“What do you want me to do for you?”
This question haunts me, stirs me. Jesus, all-knowing God in the flesh, posed this question to a blind beggar on the roadside. This man’s faith prompted him to respond to Jesus with what most of us would consider utterly impossible. “I want to see!” blind Bartimaeus cried.
I bury my desires down deep in the safety of obscurity. If I don’t acknowledge them they won’t overpower me. They won’t expose my vulnerability, my humanity. If I keep those longings hidden, I don’t have to admit the disappointment, the brokenness that has come from shattered dreams or unanswered prayers.
If Jesus asked me the same question he directed to Bartimaeus, I would probably answer with something surface, something that only required a little faith. I would find the thing that kept my heart shielded, the request that could be easily answered.
“What do you want me to do for you?”
This invitation from our Savior isn’t one that can be answered with safety. It is an invitation to strip away the barriers, to reveal our deepest longings. This is the start.
In Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation, Ruth Haley Barton writes, “When we are in touch with our deepest longings… we are compelled to seek out ways of living that are congruent with our deepest desires.”
This is your invitation, sisters. Over the next two months we will be creating a tender space to uncover those longings. It might take time and practice, allowing ourselves to listen well to all that is going on in our hearts. Then we will walk through a series of patterns and rhythms outlined in Barton’s book, including disciplines like solitude, prayer and Scripture.
I usually approach spiritual disciplines with the very best of intentions that manifest in a long, holy to-do list. I want to fit it all in but find myself worn out and dried up. Can you relate?
As we will find out as we read Sacred Rhythms, we don’t start with the practices lest we only make it about more to do, habits that someone else has told us to include in our routine. No, first we dig deep underneath the noise and activity and drivenness of our lives and uncover the longing that is stirring. Out of this longing, Barton will help us create rhythms that breathe life instead of draining life.
This is the perfect book to prepare our hearts for the Velvet Ashes Retreat coming up in April (registration opens tomorrow!). Perhaps you have found yourself in a particularly dry season and you long for the Spirit’s peace to refresh you. Perhaps you are overwhelmed by all the demands that clamor daily, the tasks that pop up just as soon as one gets finished. You long for rest and space to sit and be with the Father. We believe that He wants to meet you during the retreat through the video testimonies, the journaling prompts and Scripture passages that will be offered. There is great richness in store for you!
So why not join us for Book Club as we open up our hearts, understand the longing that might have been buried deep, journey through the spiritual disciplines outlined, and prepare to set aside this retreat time in April. Let’s do some mighty soul work over the coming weeks together! I believe the Father has some sweet gifts ready for us.
If Jesus asked you the question He asked Bartimaeus, do you know how you would answer? What has been your experience with spiritual disciplines in the past? What are you hoping the Father will do in your heart as we journey through Sacred Rhythms in the coming weeks?
Here’s the reading plan for Sacred Rhythms, starting next week!
March 5: Introduction and Chapter 1
March 12: Chapter 2
March 19: Chapter 3
March 26: Chapter 4
April 2: Chapter 5
April 9: Chapter 6
April 16: Chapter 7
April 23: Chapter 8
April 30: Chapter 9 and Appendices