I have calmed and quieted myself. — David, Psalm 131:2
I wonder how many people in your office, your gym, your daily commute could say they’ve cultivated a quiet heart? What we assume is a normal lifestyle is absolute insanity to the God-given nature of our heart and soul. Nonetheless, this is the world we live in, raise our kids in, navigate our careers in, and so we need to find things that are simple and accessible to begin to take back our souls.
My premise is simple. The world is nuts. It’s gone off the rails and is trying to take our hearts and souls with it. If you’re doing this study in a group, I bet you barely made it here. If you’re watching this by yourself, you’re likely squeezing it into some narrow window of margin. Everyone I know, all my friends, are so busy these days.
Part of the problem is we’re trying to keep up with the pace of technology. We’re asking our souls to live at the speed of the smartphone and the laptop and it can’t be done. It’s brutal. So there’s the pace of life, right?
And then there is this tsunami of information coming at us. We’re spending four hours a day on our mobile devices, three hours using apps of various kinds, ten hours a day consuming media of some sort. That’s more information in one week than would crash a laptop. Right? And it’s not just information. It’s scandal and chaos and politics and gossip and the trauma of the world. This is hard on the soul. There’s very little room left to be human anymore.
My musician friends tell me that they’re not playing much music these days, and my gardening friends didn’t have a chance to plant this year what they wanted to plant. We’re all just living right at the edge of our margin.
Most of us get home on most days in a state of exhaustion, numb on our good days, fried more often than we’d like to admit. It’s like what Bilbo said: “We feel thin and stretched like butter, scraped over too much, bread.”1
That’s why I wrote this series. So we can get our lives back. Jesus has a way out. Jesus can show you the escape hatch to this madness that we’re living in. He began to show me the way out through a number of simple daily practices that helped me breathe again and restore my soul. He will do the same for you.
If you or any of your group members are just getting to know one another, take a few minutes to introduce yourselves. Then, to kick things off, discuss one of the following questions:
- Are you happy and carefree most of the time? Why or why not?
- Would you describe yourself as rested and refreshed? Why or why not?
- Do you look forward to your future? Why or why not?
Invite someone to read aloud the following passage. Listen for fresh insight and share any new thoughts with the group through the questions that follow.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life… and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. — Matthew 11:28-30, MSG
- What is Jesus’ general assumption about us within His three questions? How accurately does this describe you?
- What is His core invitation?
- What are the results dependent on?
Play the video segment for session 1. A summary of the key points is provided for your benefit as well as space to take additional notes.
- We tend to go through our days with no margin — racing from one thing to the next. As the pace in which we’re living accelerates, we don’t seem to have even one minute to just pause, breathe, and release it all to Jesus.
- The big lie is how technology was supposed to create room in our lives for all those things that we enjoy. It’s done the exact opposite, increasing our workload as we try to keep up to the pace of a world gone completely mad.
- On average, we spend four hours a day on our mobile devices, three hours using apps of various kinds, and ten hours a day consuming media of some sort.
- It’s not just the tsunami of information that is coming at us but also the trauma of the world. It’s hard on the soul. There’s very little room left to be human anymore.
- The One Minute Pause is the practice of taking sixty seconds to simply breathe, be quiet, and let your soul catch up to you. This isn’t a time to pray, process, or be productive — but simply to breathe.
- Benevolent Detachment is the practice of releasing everyone and everything to God. “Benevolent” because it’s not angry or cynical but done in love and kindness. “Detachment” because it’s a recognition we can’t carry the world. We are not God.
- Jesus is actually really serious about us turning things over to Him on a regular basis (Matthew 11:28-30). The One Minute Pause and Benevolent Detachment are two great ways to do so.
Take a few minutes to go through the following questions with your group.
- In what specific ways has the pace of your life accelerated in the past few years?
- Are there certain things you’ve had to give up recently — such as hobbies or simple pleasures — just to keep up?
- Were you surprised to hear we spend ten hours a day consuming media of some sort? What has the effect of this been on your soul?
- What was the experience of the One Minute Pause like for you? Was it difficult to not try to be productive during that time — or easy to simply let your soul breathe?
- What does 1 Peter 5 say we should do with our worries and cares? How good are you at practicing this?
- Benevolent Detachment involves learning to release everyone and everything to God. What are the hardest things for you to release to God? Why?
Wrap up your time together with prayer. Remember, prayer is simply talking to God. Here are a few ideas of what you could pray about based on the topics of this first session:
- Ask God to reveal the ways that you are running on empty — physically and spiritually.
- Pray for God to help you learn how to live freely and lightly
- Commit to doing the One Minute Pause each day.
- Cast all your cares and burdens to God and leave them there.
- Release everyone and everything to the Father through Benevolent Detachment.
GIVING IT A TRY
Your first weekly practice involves the One Minute Pause. It can be used in many ways: for prayer or silence, to find your heart again, or to enjoy a moment of beauty. We’ll develop this practice throughout this study.
To get started:
- Pick one or two moments each day when you are least likely to be interrupted.
- Set your phone alarm to remind you. Pick a notification sound that is gracious, not adrenaline producing (“Bell,” or better “Silk.” Not “Suspense” or “News Flash” for you iPhone users). You are not sounding an alarm; you are inviting your soul to a gracious pause.
In these sixty seconds:
- Be still and simply breathe.
- Let everyone and everything go.
- Ask for more of God: Jesus — I need more of You; fill me with more of You, God. Restore our union; fill me with Your life.
I have developed an app to help you practice the One Minute Pause; it’s beautiful, and I think it will be of great service to you. You can find it for free in the app store.
This one simple practice will open the door to many others. Your soul is going to thank you.
- J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (New York: Ballantine Books, 1954), p. 34.
Excerpted with permission from Get Your Life Back Study Guide: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad by John Eldredge, copyright John Eldredge.
* * *
Come share your thoughts with us about Get Your Life Back on our blog!