Last week we asked many of our MKs why they were thankful to have been raised on the mission field in our post “Thanks-Giving About Being An MK” This week we asked our missionaries: “Do you make the time to be still, regroup and process? If so, what is your favorite way to do this?” In reading their responses I was challenged in this area in my life and I hope you are as well. Here is what many of our missionaries shared with us: (Be sure to read to the end!)
“It’s absolutely essential to take time to be still and rest. God set an example for us in the very beginning by resting on the seventh day of creation. Not because He had too but too show its importance.I find it important to be still, process, rejuvenate, whatever you want to call it on multiple different basis. Individually, it’s important to rest or do “sabbath” every day. Not the whole day. But at least 15 minutes to get away and just be!
At the next level, on a weekly basis, it’s so important to take a day away and give it to the Lord in this way. We try to do this in different ways: completely escape from our place of living, go on a hike, go on some kind of adventure, lock our doors. Whatever it is, be intentional about it. It’s even important to be intentional about this concept of sabbatical on a yearly basis. To carve out larger blocks of time to rest and reunite yourself with the Lord and get on the same page.
These things are all good. And we definitely can’t say we perfect this. But it’s something to set out for. We have found that we need to give ourselves permission to rest. Because sometimes you feel like there is always something to do and it’s not right to do sabbath. But when we look through the right lens and allow ourselves, we can truly be still and at rest as we realign with God.”
“I have 2 favorite ways to make time to be still, regroup and process. One absolutely critical way is to make time, preferably in the morning to meet with God through journal, prayer and His Word. The second is to walk around the garden in the cool of the day or evening and talk to God about all the things on my mind. While I walk and process with God, I like to be sure to have a specific listening time to hear His still small voice.”
“Yes, I do make time to be still, regroup and process. I feel it is a necessary part of life! My favorite way to do this is sitting with Dan in the main plaza here in Santa Cruz, Bolivia with our coffee and just enjoying the surroundings. It helps me get my mine off of everything else and focus on the good in life. I guess that is what helps me to regroup at this time in my life.”
“On a personal level, I think I make time to be still and process all that is going on in my morning devotions. Since Harry still works quite a bit at Sears and the baby takes a morning nap – I get some good time in the morning to spend time with Jesus and pray/process through all that is going on in our ministry. It really re-focuses me on what lies ahead and what may have happened in the past. On a couple level, I think Harry and I try to take a little get away at least once every 6 months to process all that has happened together. That also gives us a chance to talk through changes we might need to make and/or just talk freely about all that has happened.It also gives us time to thank God together on what He has been doing in and through us. Both of these strategies have been vital to my mental health and vision for the ministry.”
“Making time with children is a challenge! However, it is also so very necessary. Thankfully, our youngest still takes naps and the older kids can occupy themselves for a bit so I can get some time to myself most days. As a family we enjoy getting away to the Zomba Plateau a few hours to the south. It is quiet and peaceful there, allowing for reflection and regrouping. It also allows us to focus solely on the needs of our family for a few days.”
“Because of how busy life is on the field, when there is a moment of peace, I like to read from the bible or just sit and be still. but I find that the number one way I worship is to talk all day with God. constant communication with him helps me remember how present he is with me in every situation. Granted when I know I need personal time with God, I get away from the noise and spend time with God.”
“The way that I slow down is doing my devotions in the morning, before my kids wake up. I also really enjoy reading and listening to music. :)”
“I will answer the question in two different ways: first how I have done this personally, then how we do it as we are traveling together. Your question of taking time to “be still, regroup and process” is something I have done through my times alone with the Lord. It is a priority for my morning, so when there are activities on the schedule I get up earlier (and at times go to bed earlier the night before so I will have a clear mind in the morning). It consists of time for prayer (I use the GGF prayer calendar plus my own personal schedule to pray for every church, pastor and Grace ministry), reading of Scripture, reflection and journaling. This year I have been reading through the OT and NT at the same time, so sometimes I will read the OT passages before bed and concentrate more on the NT in my morning times. It’s a refreshing time which I would not want to miss. This is mostly a “be still” time with minimal regrouping and processing. My monthly retreat day is when I do more of that. This has been a practice I have attempted for the past few years. Unfortunately, it has not been “monthly” when I travel because it is hard to take a full day away by myself. So probably 6-8 months per year I have taken the last Monday of the month to get away from all distractions and spend concentrated time with the Lord: extended personal time in prayer, an hour or more in a passage from the Word, meditating on hymns, evaluating my life direction and motives before the Lord, and listening to the Spirit. I then spend time evaluating my ministry and seeking His direction for the upcoming month. It’s a great day! My wife and I also are spending time processing while we are driving between churches. And we pray together each night.”
“I would say that my time to be still, regroup and process things come in my life morning quiet time with the Lord, reading scripture and journaling. As God speaks through His word, it can direct my prayer time for family and other people and concerns He brings to mind. Like Frosty, I am reading through the Old Testament with one plan and the GGF New Testament plan each day. Traveling definitely adds a challenge to the amount of quiet and time I can spend, so I am enjoying being home again after 7 very full weeks on the road.”
“I enjoy time off between busy events–some days with no one around. Days where I can study, rest, and play piano or catch up on reading are great. Joining online Bible Studies has been a great constant in the crazy schedules.”
“To answer your question, what I do, I have a chair in a corner that I just use to “meet alone with God on a regular basis” I like it to do it mostly in the mornings or before I go to bed. It is the time to be on my knees, be still and leave my burdens to Him.”
“Believe it or not, I actually spoke on the topic “Be Still” at the Bethesda Church Ladies Retreat in March 2015. Had you asked me then my answer would probably be different from now. I am not good at being still and regrouping or processing. I have tried journaling, I’ve thrown lots of journals away because they sound so lame when I read back over them. I have journaled on my computer, and then I’ve deleted them because they are so out of touch with where I am “now”. I am not a pack-rat! But I have often wished that I had all those things together in one place to be able to go back through them and see how I’ve grown and changed.
I do spend time with the Lord and the amount of time and the depth of that time waxes and wanes and that bothers me. I wish I could say I am really disciplined in this area. I start having great times with the Lord and I think, “I will never let go of this again” and a few weeks later I find myself having “a quick read and prayer”. That really frustrates me and I get down on myself. But I also am trying to remember that I don’t earn God’s love or blessing based on the kind of time I spend with him. I recognize that my earthly friendships are deeper and more connected during some seasons of life and less so during others. I’m not trying to excuse myself, cuz I know the problem is me and not God, but I am trying to appropriate his grace to me.
One thing I love here in Malawi is my morning walk when I listen to sermons. For the first time in my life in Africa I have a quiet peaceful place to walk and so I listen to sermons while I walk. Sometimes I don’t listen to anything and I think and pray (sometimes I think during the sermons because a topic will get me thinking about my own life, and sometimes my thoughts are just distractions).
I do like to pray and I recently read a book called Transforming Prayer. It’s about praying Scripture and that’s an area that I want to start practicing, but it’s hard to develop that skill, but I think it’s really important. Now that we have no kids at home and we live in a quiet neighborhood, morning is definitely the best time of day for me to spend time with the Lord. I do find that if I don’t do it in the morning, I have trouble turning the day off and focusing. When I take time in the morning I also need to have a place to jot down the distracting thoughts that come into my mind so I can then put them aside and refocus. I would like to take a half day and do “Sabbath rest” but I haven’t managed to do that–not because of external pressures, but because I just haven’t made it happen.”