God, Life, Busyness, Distractions, rest

Focusing on God in the Midst of Life

When I was attending the University of Toronto, I was that student who enrolled in all things ‘Humanities.’ I had grand plans of becoming an art historian and a writer, but I wanted to try my hand at painting, drawing, theatre, history, and sociology. My schedule was a rainbow of colour as I ran from class to class and even shuttled back and forth to Sheridan College, Trafalgar campus. Life was busy as I had also made the mistake of taking courses that relied heavily on essays, presentations, group work and countless readings. I was busy, I was living in a new city, and I was trying to fit in, which culminated in the need for rest.

I used to think about taking a ‘rest’ as having a nap. My family used to joke and say that I could credit my height to how much I slept. If you don’t know me, I am vertically blessed and have always been so. University was when I realized that rest came in many different forms. For me, it came in the way of quieting my mind and focusing on the world around me. Let me explain.

“Dad, how far are we going today?” I ask. I grasp a black spile between my thumb and index finger and twist and pull the tiny piece of plastic from a hole in the side of a maple tree. Sap spills from the spile. I hold the blue line, connected to the end of the spile, away from me. Sap sprays back at me like water spewing from an old, cracked tap, showering my cheeks and traveling along my face in winding pathways down my neck and into the opening of my red and brown plaid shirt. The steady spray of sap calms into a trickle, and I place the spile back into the hole of the tree, high above my head.  (Excerpt from Chimney Ridge)

When I was seventeen, I stood in the woods on our family farm and helped my dad drain the blue lines of old and fermented sap. I remember it so clearly because I was present. I stood in the snow, took a deep breath and blocked out the rest of the world. That was where I found my rest, and where the busyness of life did not matter.

“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.” ― Sarah Dessen

Last week, I decided that I needed to revisit the Bible and learn even more about God and His promises. I knew that I needed a daily reading plan as if I did not have one, I would flounder through books, chapters, and verses and lose interest. In my search, I came across an app called, Read Scripture. I opened the app and tapped away until I found my first reading. Instead of jumping right into the scriptures, however, I instead was met with a pulsating circle that expanded and compressed in size, over and over again. Above it was the text, ‘Take a deep breath as you begin to spend time with God.”

It has been a few days since I started this reading plan and every time I see the circle grow and recede, I am reminded to take a deep breath and shift my focus to God. In a world that is busy, noisy, distracting and centered around immediate gratification, this circle is a gentle reminder that our time with God is precious. In the book of Matthew, we even see Jesus separate himself from the crowds so that he can spend some time with God, alone. It was at this time that he found rest.

Whether it’s the middle of the work week, during study break in a coffee shop, or watching Netflix, take a deep breath and think about what will give you rest. God brought order out of chaos in the beginning, and He continues to do that in our lives every day. We just need to be present, focus on Him and know that He is in the details.