Most of us are fully aware that the pace of life is faster than ever before. With the progression of digital communication, life continues to move forward exponentially faster. Daily, you are bombarded by cell phone calls, emails, texts, twitter messages, Facebook posts and any other number of ways that we can reach out and touch someone. I once went on a short trip to Kansas and forgot my iPhone. I felt lost, exposed and unprepared for life! Last week, I went to the grocery store without my cell phone and felt ill-equipped to buy food!
Because we are so digitally connected, most of us take too little time for reflection. Let me suggest from Jesus’ life that quiet and unhurried time for prayer and reflection is essential for living a God honoring life. It would seem impossible to live the life we are called by God to live without reflection for at least four reasons:
Reflection is for growth.
Luke 5:15-16 “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
Luke 22:39 “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.”
Matthew 14.23 “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone…”
Jesus went to spend time in quiet often; it was his usual practice to seek time alone in solitude. It was part of his normal routine in life. So should it be in our lives. As we reflect on our lives, we grow. We grow because we allow God to speak into our lives.When I am quiet and alone, I am best able to hear what God wants me to hear. I realize that I responded inappropriately, or I missed a chance to encourage, or maybe I misunderstood the importance of something I had done earlier.
Furthermore, for reflection to produce growth, we can see that reflection for Jesus was frequent and consistent. As it was for Jesus, so it must also be for us. We must build the discipline of reflection in our daily routine and be consistent with it. For me, this means I run with no music or other people, intentionally spending my time running in quiet reflection.
Reflection is for balance.
Mark 6:30-31—30The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
John 6.14-15—14After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world. 15Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
Jesus was intentional in keeping his mind open to the Father bringing a perspective about his life that was different from being caught up in the emotions of the moment. We should also keep our thoughts or positions open to being challenged and changed through God speaking to us during reflection. This is critical. Reflection is of little use if it isn’t done with an open mind; that is being willing to see things from a new or different perspective. Balance requires continual adjustment to new forces; we see this in Jesus’ life.
Notice that whenever Jesus (and his disciples’) life was tempted to get out of proper perspective he withdrew to a quiet place. It is very easy to get caught up in what is happening around us and lose perspective. By taking time to reflect, God is able to keep our head in HIS game and not in our own. God keeps our perspective where he wants it.
Reflection is for wisdom.
Luke 6:11-13—11But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.12One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles
When Jesus was making important decisions (selecting the disciples, facing his death, etc.) we see Jesus taking extended time alone for prayer and reflection. This was not the frequent and consistent time but extended time where he was specific and focused on his need for wisdom. It is obvious that whenever Jesus needed wisdom he spent extended time in prayer and reflection.
Reflection is for handling pressure.
Matthew 14:12-14—12John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.13When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
When Jesus was experiencing some significant pressure and stress, he clearly sought out time for solitude. Great people don’t do great things under normal pressure; they do normal things under great pressure. They are able to make normal decisions under great pressure because they take time to reflect. This time of reflection is urgent and can’t always be planned. We must be aware of these times when we sense the stress is rising and we need to simply get away by ourselves for prayer and reflection.
From Jesus’ life, for Reflection to be a vital part of our life, it must be:
- Frequent and consistent
- Open minded
- Extended, specific and focused
- Urgent or when needed
How do you reflect? How do you work Reflection into your life so it is frequent and consistent? How do you make space for Reflection in moments of stress and uncertainty?