Saturday, December 18, 2010


I must confess that I have experienced envy recently.  My friend Micah Hasty has a blog called The Common Cup where he posts a constant array of art, quotes and thoughts for his readers.  While there is plenty to envy (the beautiful design of his blog, his miraculous ability to find and post an array of content daily, etc.), I have found myself most envious of Micah's devotional postings.  Being a gifted photographer, he posts a picture of the coffee he is drinking, the music he is enjoying and the text he is reading, along with thoughts from the study.  As strange as it sounds, I have devotional envy.

I feel alive when I have been alone with a substantive book and a cup of coffee.  There is an aligning of body mind and spirit that occurs when I am at the coffee house reading or planning or studying the Word.  It is a simultaneous filling and pouring out that I cannot explain any other way than to say that it is a Holy Spirit work (In this way, pouring and drinking coffee is a liturgical act of worship).  I'm envious of my friend, because it has been at least a few weeks since I have been in that place.  It's not that I haven't read the Word or been in prayer.  I just haven't had one of those rich moments of time alone with God, the ones where everything else in the world seems simple and insignificant in the presence of God, the ones where He allows His presence to be made known more than usual.

Today, I came to a realization that has been haunting me for the last few weeks: my spirit is dry.  Don't get the wrong idea.  I'm not in sin. and I'm not far from God.  I feel connected.  I just haven't had one of those moments of closeness in while.  They don't come every day, even in the best of times (at least not for me), but I think I'm due for one.  For me, these last few weeks have been full of people in crisis.  I feel like I've been hearing a lot of sad stories about sin, loss, and brokenness.  I'm honored and privileged to have a job that allows me to be there for people in their suffering.  But since the only hope I have to give is from the Spirit, I have to get refilled often.  I haven't been filling up as much as I have been pouring out.

I had a friend tell me once that it must be great to be a pastor and get to study and pray all the time.  I wanted to punch him right there just to prove that his assumption isn't true (otherwise I would have remembered the whole "slow to anger" thing).   I think I have less time for devotions now than ever.  My days are filled with e-mails, meetings, documents, crisis phone calls from hurting people, strange requests from people needing help, missed meals and unexpected tasks, not to mention planning for upcoming projects.  Just when I think I'm getting all my work under control, I realize I've forgotten something huge that should have been dealt with months ago.  So, I scramble to get it back on track and pray God keeps it from falling apart.  Is this familiar?

On my best days, I'm like a hero in a stylized action movie.  Everything is running a mile a minute, and I'm thinking on the spot, making things happen in sync with the Spirit.  Its like I'm shooting from the hip and slaying the enemy at every turn.  Bullets whiz past me as I dodge in Neo-like fashion.  Amazing things happen.  I love it.  But, if I'm not filled up, I'm more like nameless character who steps in the quicksand and is forgotten by Scene 3.

Pastors are just like everybody else.  Time with God doesn't count as part of the work week.  We have to make it fit somewhere.  Right now, I'm making mine at 10:59 on a Saturday night.  I'm getting up early tomorrow, but I need this more than the extra sleep.

So, here I am.  It's quite.  There is no crisis to deal with.  I'm not opening my e-mails.  My family is asleep.  I'm going to re-connect with the Creator of the universe by the light of my computer screen.

I'm writing tonight to let you know that this time doesn't come naturally for anybody (not even pastors).  We really aren't superheroes (though I like to pretend I am John McClane from Die Hard).  So if you are reading this and feeling empty, do whatever it takes to make time today.  Cancel something you thought was important.  Stay up late.  Skip a meal.  Do whatever it takes, but connect.  Nothing of any value will happen until you do.


  1. Amen, brother. I've been struggling with the very same issues. Way too much stuff coming at me to deal with and no time to spend with my Lord. Sometimes I wish I had a private place where I could disappear from everyone and every problem to be with just God and his Word. I'm growing tired and weary and I feel trapped by crisis after crisis. Lord, help me find the time and the place

  2. I don't know what kind of space you have at your home, but I can tell you that staying up late helped a lot last night. I can't do it all the time, but it works when I'm desperate for some quite time.

  3. I'm humbled.
    I'm right here with you on every line.
    I'm no superhero either.
    I take time in the mornings as soon as I get to work before anyone else is in the office to spend some time in the word and take an extended time on Friday's since I take that day off every week on purpose with the intention of being able to spend more time with God.
    As minister's especially we're pouring out every day of the week.
    We need to make time to soak Him up.

  4. Yeah, I'm thinking about doing the early office thing too. Nothing like coffee with devotions. I call it "WD-40 for the Holy Spirit."