Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Beginnings and the Winter Solstice

Last night I could not sleep.  Dana and I went to bed around 10:10 (she wasn't feeling well) and I laid and read until 11:30.  I was reading "Prayer" by Yancey, which I currently have a love-hate relationship with (I'll save that for another post) but last night I found what he said to be rather good and convicting.

At 11:30 I turned out my light and rolled over to fall asleep, only to find that I was rather wide awake.  While reading "Prayer", I had decided that I needed to work at waking up earlier and taking time to run (I sit all day...) and pray (after, not during, running).  So I had an alarm set for 6am, and here I was at 11:30pm wide awake and unable to sleep.

Normally if I were to find myself in this type of situation I would get annoyed, roll around, get up and do push-ups/sit-ups to burn off energy, go to the bathroom, etc, but thankfully I had just been reading Yancey's book, so I thought "What a perfect opportunity to pray!".  So there I lay and I prayed about life, church, marriage, which led to reflecting on the past year and thinking ahead into the next year.  One conclusion that I came to is that in this past year I have felt a relational distance between myself and God that has seemed to grow.  It seems to me that I don't love God as much as I used to, I don't talk as passionately about his as I used to, I don't speak to him as often as I used to, I don't read his word with as much wonder and desire, I don't seek as persistently, pray as passionately, or evangelize as urgently.

The other thing I thought about as I laid there and prayed and thought is that it was December 21 (well, by that time it was past midnight and therefore was December 21) which I remembered to be the Winter Solstice (the shortest day/longest night of the year).  I have since found out that the Solstice date changes and this year it is actually 12/22.  However, what I realized was that one year was ending and a new was beginning.  We had seen the light of the sun grow in intensity and longevity through the Winter and Spring and the wane through the Summer and Fall, and last night as I lay awake the earth was reaching that point of starting it all over again.

And so I felt that it was in some way appropriate that I also had felt at times the presence and light of God growing within me, blossoming and burning in intensity, and then at other times waning until that point last night, where I wondered how the spark had become so small.  So now, as we head into the time of year, as the sun begins to shine more brightly, I will begin by praying that the Spirit might also shine more brightly in and through me, and I will take strides to make spaces in my life for God to speak and act and burn within my heart.  By this time it was 1:30am, I had not laid there and prayed for the whole 2 hours, I also got up and ate, went to the bathroom, did sit-ups/push-ups, read my Bible, read other things, and generally been annoyed by the fact that I could not go to sleep, however there were some ripe conclusions left in my mind after 2 free hours of pondering.

And so I started my pretend New Year (I thought it was the New Year.....just turns out I have to wait a day) at 6:45 (bumped the alarm back 45 minutes) with a run and some time in prayer / meditation over Scripture.  I hope that these can become habits that allow me to grow in my knowledge of and love for God so that I can better serve Him and the world around me.

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