New Year 2013
When I look at my diary for the coming year it looks very full. I could not handle my role without a diary, nor without prayerful, thoughtful planning. You may, or may not, operate life with a diary. The one thing I am very grateful for when I look at all the appointments and events which fill 2013 is that built in there is space.
Now please do not misunderstand me. I love visiting parishes, schools, work places and events. I am excited by these and by key things like the Lent Series (in Newark & Southwell and Bassetlaw & Bawtry Deaneries) and the Prayer Walk (in Newstead Deanery in May). But I need space and am glad it is built in. Space to rest, relax, reflect, renew through days off and holidays. Space to read, pray, think on Quiet Days, or the Leadership Development days I have this year. We all need space.
I find myself increasingly concerned by the pressure of our society to make rapid decisions; to fix things quickly; to ‘do something’. It is a pressure on politicians all of the time; partly through the media’s power but also through the ever present desire to seek re-election. The media is always pushing for ‘an answer’, or for creating the next ‘big/new thing, or person or band or star’. Always pushing, never waiting. Filling the space with sound, pictures, events and stories – you cannot leave any space.
My fear is that the failure to make space, to take time, leads to un-thought-out decisions. It leads to hasty rather than lasting solutions. It leads to insufficient analysis and understanding. It deals with symptoms not causes; it plasters over cracks rather than dealing with foundations.
Now people can use delay to put things off. We can dither rather than decide. We do not want leaders in any walk of life and at any level of responsibility to simply go round in circles or fail to ever offer a lead. Sometimes we do just have to get on and act. However our current danger it seems to me, in society and in church, is to go for too hasty solutions. We need to create space to allow God’s voice to be heard clearly.
In the Gospels Jesus, we are told, regularly created space. He went off on his own to pray. He withdrew from the pressure of the crowd. His friends were so moved by how he prayed they asked him “Teach us to pray”. He took time. But having done so he acted, and focussed clearly on what the Father was calling Him to do.
In 2013, whatever your job, your studies, your family, your interest I encourage you to recover the importance of space. Take time; make time to be still. Take time; make time to listen, reflect, pray. Take time; make time to be with God. Do so regularly; day by day; week by week; month by month. Then having made space, be active in pursuing God’s purpose for you, and for the world.