princessemmablog

A Work in Progress: Walking with Jesus

Soul food

on November 17, 2020
Beach huts at Herne Bay

As countless others have observed, we all find ourselves in a strange season at the moment. For most of us this has involved change. For some, this has meant an enforced slowing of pace, though furlough or unemployment. For those of us fortunate enough to still be working, though, work is often busier (and more intense) than ever. My work definitely falls into this category.

I have found it increasingly difficult to keep my work/home boundaries precise- they have a tendency to become distinctly blurry. I find myself working more hours and longer days.

It feels like God has been prodding me about that recently. My colleague Beth and I had a meeting with our Cinnamon mentor this week. On hearing how busy we were, how we had new developments on several fronts, new opportunities, more and more referrals, he ever-so-gently reminded us of the importance of making sure we had enough capacity for all of it; to look after ourselves and manage our time sensibly, to avoid burning out. At our staff meeting this week, I took the opportunity to remind the team of the importance of not routinely working loads of extra hours, of taking time back in lieu, and taking holiday.

Even as I said it, I thought about the kind of example I was setting by doing exactly what I was saying not to do. Ouch… I was reminded of Alice in Wonderland’s famous words:

“That’s just the trouble with me, I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

How can I ask my team to do something, and then not do it myself?! Effective leadership, wherever we do it- parenting, in the workplace, at church- is always less about talking and more about modelling.

We are in the middle of 21 days of prayer and fasting at church. On our Sunday morning Zoom call we heard wise words from several people about the importance of finding God in the everyday moments, and having an attitude of prayer. This was another timely reminder for me. We don’t need to create an artificial secular/sacred divide. God made us. Our wonderfully unique personalities are not an accident. Our souls are not separate from our bodies. We are one whole, messy entity. The great news about a relational God who loves to spend time with us is that it doesn’t matter where we are or what we are doing, He can still hear us, and speak to us. So it is totally fine to spend time with God doing what recharges your batteries; what fills your emotional tank and feeds your soul.

I realised I needed to put into practice what I was preaching, and take back some of those extra hours I had been working (as a small charity we can’t afford to pay overtime, so encourage our team to take back extra hours worked as time off in lieu). The to-do list will never be clear. There is never an ideal time to take time off. But it is vital (and no-one is indispensible, despite what our egos may tell us). So I booked today off.

After half an hour clearing essential emails and making sure all was relatively quiet on the Western front (baby steps and all!) I drove to beautiful Tankerton. I walked 5.5km to Herne Bay, with my headphones on, listening to worship music, and letting truths about God wash over me. As is so often the case with a playlist on shuffle, I end up hearing just what I need to hear. For the first half an hour, I just listened to Goodness of God on repeat.

I didn’t even really consciously pray. I gave the morning to God, and breathed the sea air, and walked in His presence; I took pictures of cute beach huts and little scurrying birds, and watched toddlers wobble on bikes and dogs bound exuberantly off their leads. It was joyous.

When I got to Herne Bay I ate sausage and chips on the beach, closely eyeballed by several large seagulls. I didn’t feel in the least bit guilty, because did I mention I just walked 5.5km. (I don’t really understand the calorie exchange but pretty sure that’s enough to cancel it our, right?!)

There were fewer people around on the way back, so I felt able to sing my praises into the wind. Sometimes on a day like this, I get some clarity about a particular issue, a revelation, a new idea; it can feel like God is downloading stuff into my brain. It wasn’t like that today. Our daddy God knows what we need. Today, He knew I just needed to be in His presence, to remind myself who He was, and who I am- a daughter of the King.

I was only gone for about 4 and a half hours, but I know that that relatively small time investment will pay dividends over the coming days and weeks. Working, serving and loving from a place of Holy Spirit fullness is so much better for us than running on empty. I hope that by sharing this today, it will be the affirmation that someone else needs to refuel- whatever that looks like for them.


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