“To act in the name of Jesus means to act from the place where we are united with Jesus in love.” – Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
How much stillness was in your day today? And before you start to feel guilty, just stop to remember what has been going on. The demand have been coming in from all quarters, many of them conflicting. Children, colleagues, neighbors, partners, friends. The phone has surely rung. Letters and bills have arrived. Day-to-day tasks like cleaning, shopping, meal prepping, keeping the car running, holding down a job. You are running around in so many circles that there is hardly time for you in your day, let alone God.
But I hope you are beginning to discover this month that God has been present in the endless circle in ways that you may not have recognized before — little corners of peace that can be found hidden in the rat race of life. While it is important for us to slow down and find stillness at the center of life, the busyness all around the edges has a part to play too.
If you have ever made pottery, you know that without the potter’s hands guiding the wet clay, there would be a big mess! In prayer we look for that kind of still and silent surrender that we could compare to the wet clay which yields to a potter’s touch. God creates us – we don’t create ourselves. And when we do try to mold the world and our circumstances into our liking, we often make a big mess of things too. To pray is to place ourselves in God’s hands and trust that God, the Potter, will form us into the people he has dreamed we shall become.
But the pot needs more than the clay for its formation, and more that the Potter’s skill. It needs the spinning wheel! There has to be motion. The spinning of my life’s hours and days, that sometimes seem so senseless and frenzied to me, may be precisely that spinning that is moving me, and all of creation, toward our destination in God.
Prayer may begin in stillness, but it becomes active when we begin to live out what we have learned in the stillness. It changes how we see things and how we react to circumstances. It helps us make decisions in light of gospel values and it shapes us into people who make a difference in the communities we find ourselves in. Our relationship with God needs action.
Read the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4:5-30. Pretend you are in the story being encountered by Jesus. Notice your own well (wherever you meet Jesus) and let yourself be in Jesus’ presence, contemplating the relationship you share.
– Who does Jesus say you are?
– How does Jesus interact with you?
– How does Jesus make you feel?
Linger there for as long as you like. Then let Jesus send you back to your village, the place in the world where you are called to live out the consequences of your prayer. Where does this call draw you? Have you drawn living water from your prayer? What are you going to do with that water now?
Next time you feel like you are running in circles, try to stand still for just a few moments. Take a deep breath and imagine:
- Standing with the soles of your feet flat on the ground, with deep roots going down into the earth beneath you.
- Plunging your bucket down into the cool waters of a well and drawing up a draught of clear water
- Dropping anchor in the middle of a gale and letting your life boat come to stillness and security.
These moments of recollection will pass, but you will have tapped into the true source of your energy, and you will be empowered to move on, because: Your feet were made for walking, the water is for carrying back to the village, the boat is built to sail.
See other devotionals in this series: