“Activity for the Lord can only be sustained by extended times of prayer and communion with the Lord.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – June 15, 2023
Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Joel 2:13, NIV
Off the northeast coast of England lies a remote island called Lindisfarne. Often referred to as the “Holy Island,” this tidal island was an early center of Christian missionary work in England. Though once established and flourishing, by the 7th century a once Christian land had reverted to paganism and left behind the way of Christ. And so, into this post-Christian world an Irish monk named Aidan, who’d been living at the ancient center of prayer called Iona in Scotland, came to boldly evangelize the locals in the region of Northumbria.
St. Aidan of Lindisfarne is remembered for many things, yet today I want us to reflect upon one single aspect of his life and ministry: a commitment to both an active and contemplative life. Aidan was a man on the move, winning the local people back to Christ as he entered into their world and lovingly came alongside them, day in and day out. He was an early model of what today might be called “relational evangelism,” taking the time to gently love his neighbors and share life with them without judgement or condemnation, instead slowly earning the right to share the love of God in Jesus and to invite them to walk in this way.
And yet, as active as he was, his activity was rooted in an unshakable commitment to silence, solitude, and unceasing prayer. His home base as a monk and missionary was on an island that was literally cut off from the world at certain times of the day, with the tidal waters rushing in to isolate him and his brother monks from the hustle and bustle of the mainland. This rhythm was central to his spiritual life, for he knew his activity for the Lord could only be sustained by extended times of prayer and communion with his Lord.
Do you have a home base to which you return? The active life is remarkably easy to fall into, with activities, digital stimulation, and endless distraction at our fingertips, not to mention active service and care for others in Christ’s name. This will be with us for as long as we live, and we are meant to flourish in our active lives in the world. And yet, that flourishing life is only found when we have home bases to which we frequently return, there finding our purpose and true identity as we enter into the rest of God.
Leave me alone with God as much as may be.
As the tide draws the waters close in upon the shore,
Make me an island, set apart,
alone with you, God, holy to you.
Then with the turning of the tide
prepare me to carry your presence to the busy world beyond,
the world that rushes in on me
till the waters come again and fold me back to you.
-St. Aidan of Lindisfarne
Take time to identify the home bases in your life. Perhaps it is your physical home, or it may be with a few specific people, or when you are at school or church. As you identify them, continue to prioritize time “at home” to ensure your life in the world is animated by the renewing presence of God deep within you.
Audrey Assad: Be Thou My Vision
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