I love going home. During my sabbatical, I’ve had the opportunity to go home several times. Getting home is always good, but the trip home isn’t always the greatest.
I’ve indicated elsewhere that I am goal focused. So, when I go home, I want to get home as quickly and efficiently as possible. I don’t take side trips, I keep my eyes on the goal.
For me, home is about 20 hours from Ghost Ranch. Because the trip was so long, I decided to take it easy and break the trip into three days of driving. My goal was to get to the next hotel as quickly and efficiently as I could.
Those were long days in the car. What do you do to pass the time away? Playing a game? Listening to the radio? I find that driving gives me time for thought and reflection. I usually don’t have the radio on and I drive, pretty much, in silence.
As I drove through New Mexico and Texas, I thought about my great ‘learnings’ while at Ghost Ranch. One of the learnings came from a podcast I listened to with Dr. Amos Smith. The podcast was hosted by a friend of mine, Brian Russell. Since Brian is a friend of mine and it was his podcast, I decided to listen to the interview. I also found the topic about contemplative practices such as silence, solitude, and centering prayer interesting.
At one point in the interview, Dr. Smith’s answer to one of Brian’s questions blew me away! They were discussing centering prayer and Dr. Smith’s daily practices. Brian asked, “What is the end game for all of this, what do you hope to get out of it.” Without hesitation, Dr. Smith said, “Effortless living.”
Pause for a moment, right now, and think about the phrase “effortless living.” What would that mean in your life? What would it look like for life to be without effort?
I talk a lot about abundant living because Jesus said he had come to give life and give it abundantly (John 10:10). I started thinking about Dr. Smith’s phrase, “effortless living,” and thought, “Wow, wouldn’t it be great to live without effort.” Abundant living and effortless living are ultimately connected. I think you need to have both. Jesus said he came to give abundant life, but he also talked about effortless living, but not in those terms.
When Paul was heading to Damascus to persecute churches and got knocked off his horse by a blinding light, he heard a voice. The voice said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me. (Acts 9)” We remember that part, but there’s another, perhaps more helpful, part of that conversation. God also said, “It’s hard to kick against the goads. (Acts 26:14)”
That phrase intrigues me. The image of an animal kicking against the sharp goad when the farmer tries to guide it is such a helpful image. When the animal doesn’t want to be led or go where the farmer is wanting it to go, it might kick against the sharp goad. Kicking against the goad hurts.
Jesus was telling Paul, in no uncertain terms, “Currently, you are not working with me. You are fighting against me. It will be painful…for you.”
I also think of Matthew 11:28, when Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Jesus continues, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (11:30)”
We struggle when we fight. It’s tough kicking and screaming. Rich Mullins has a song with the line: “I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want
than to take what You give that I need.”
I get that line. I live that line too often! What about you? Does that lyric ring true for you?
Dr. Smith gives a vision of effortless living. Why pray? Why spend time with God in silence? Because when we do, we become more connected with what God is doing. We become more in sync with him.
When we are aligned with him, we no longer kick against what he is doing, and we discover the rest that only he can give us.