A few months back I suggested (or to be more accurate God suggested), splurging was a spiritual practice that ushered me into a mentality of abundance. Now my friend Alice considers the spiritual practice of lingering, something to try for those of us who strategically arrive to events two minutes late to avoid the chitter chatter. Listen and linger awhile.
At the beginning of the year, I had a meeting every Wednesday at 7:30 AM. Every week, I was 15 minutes late. It wasn’t because I set my alarm clock wrong, wasn’t because I couldn’t tear myself from my soft sheets until the last possible minute, wasn’t because of a series of escalating calamities.
I was late on purpose.
I knew that before the actual meeting started people would chat. I had little interest in chatter about recent gossip and upcoming parties. At home, I could be productive.
“[Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’(Luke 10:39-40)
Around this time, Erin asked me to engage in a unique spiritual practice with her. We would design our own spiritual practice to stretch our personalities, mundane habits included. I was excited to begin my spiritual practice because I expected God would reveal truths to me through the idle chatter I loathed. Maybe I would learn about a friend’s needs, or understand how to lead a small group, or come to a heightened clarity about scripture. Whatever it turned out to be, I knew God would show me something big.
The first Wednesday, I listened intently to chatter about upcoming tests, boys, gossip and talked about my excitement about the upcoming lacrosse season.
But I left vaguely disappointed. Despite my engagement, I still didn’t like idle chatter. It still knew I could be getting so much more done at home and I still could care less about the recent “drama.”
I continued in my spiritual practice and continued to be disappointed, my frustration mounting. God had revealed nothing to me: no burning bush, no letters in the sky, and not even a whisper in the wind.
“Really, God?! Really?!” I prayed “I thought I would get something out of my spiritual practice. But it was so unproductive.”
“Yep,” God replied simply.
I was a bit confused. “No, no, you don’t understand, it was unproductive”.
My mind swirled. Not productive? It had to be productive!
But, God seemed to be telling me that maybe productivity wasn’t the point.
‘“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:41-42)
Martha was distracted by many things because there were many things to do. She needed to be productive.
I was distracted by many things because there are many things to do. I need to be productive.
But we don’t believe in a God concerned with productivity. We know a God that is concerned with little more than our hearts.
As I came to this knowledge, a strange calm came over me. I knew deep in my bones that a small me is adored by an enormous God. Not because of my productivity, not because of my work, just because God is, just because God lingers.