Learning to rest takes time, but the practice of nothing is for even the busiest pastor. Is it time for you to schedule unscheduled time?
By Chris Maxwell
Equilibrium in our hurried world might occur when we level the haste with relaxation, the goals with empty sheets, the determination with a siesta, the resolve with learning to rest.
Yes, add this to your list of ways toward a balanced life: nothing.
Not the right words. No words at all.
Not the right steps. No steps at all.
Not the right program. No program at all.
Schedule unscheduled time. Avoid the noise, and welcome the silence. Plan times for silence, and pursue it. Welcome it. Embrace it.
Time for nothing
I remember an evening when I stared at the stars. They were clear, bright, and beautiful. I reached to grab my phone to take a picture. But I stopped myself and didn’t take one. I reached for my phone again, this time to write down my thoughts about what I was seeing and how I was feeling. But I stopped myself and didn’t write anything."Schedule unscheduled time. Avoid the noise, and welcome the silence. Plan times for silence, and pursue it. Welcome it. Embrace it." — @CMaxMan Click To Tweet
I did nothing. And nothing was the something I needed to do. I was learning to rest.
It wasn’t easy. You know how our minds work. They hurry on ahead, finding work to be done as time is running out. That happened. Several times, that happened. Each time, sometimes better than other times, I brought my mind back to peaceful rest. I changed mental channels. I rewired the machine. And I found the beauty of doing nothing.
The breeze felt nice. The chair wasn’t the most comfortable, but it was fine. An owl came—I thought for a moment she might have something to tell me. She left. Then she returned. This time I cheated. I took a picture.
I think she smiled.
And I know I did. I smiled.
If my memory is correct, I had not smiled before on that day. I had gone away from everyone and everything that evening. At least, everyone I was usually around and everything that was usually around me.
Call it a sabbath. Call it a break. Or call it nothingness.
That was the plan for that night. Nothing. No writing, preparing, or planning. Those were scheduled for other times. That night, nothing was scheduled. That night, “nothing” was what I needed to do. And that night, “nothing” was what I did.
And it felt like the best thing I had done.
The practice of nothing
I wonder what equilibrium you might find if you stepped away—not permanently, not from a job or a relationship or a dream—for now, for a few moments. It could be for a night or for a weekend. At least, think about it for now in this hour for these few minutes. Learning to rest takes time."Learning to rest takes time." — @CMaxMan Click To Tweet
Turn the television and the computer off. Turn off anything else that tries to insist you keep it on.
Wait, though. Don’t reach for that agenda. Don’t grab that list of goals.
Leave them behind. Leave them all behind.
Take nothing with you. Nothing is your new word, your new friend, your companion. Those good things can easily become idols or addictions, can’t they?
Leave them behind.
Chris Maxwell served 19 years as lead pastor in Orlando, Florida, after five years of youth ministry. He’s now in his 16th year as Campus Pastor and Director of Spiritual Life at Emmanuel College.
Adapted from an excerpt from Chris Maxwell’s book “Equilibrium: 31 Ways to Stay Balanced on Life’s Uneven Surfaces.”