I diverted from my usual prayer path on Monday. A narrower track took me to a tree I had not seen before. Part way up, a platform perched precariously. Who built it? For what purpose? Alack, there were no clues.
I tried to imagine what I might use it for. Sitting up there would give a different view. A shift of perspective might be refreshing. Is this the reason God took people out of their normal positions?
Jonah re-thought his life from inside a fish; Zacchaeus came to repentance up a tree; Joseph had his dreams refined from inside a cistern and a prison. We all need perspective from time to time. Sometimes God creates this directly, but I hope I don’t have to be thrown in prison to get it! We have capacity to create our own opportunities for seeing things more clearly. Here are a three suggestions:
- Go somewhere alone. Life is noisy. Silence, or at least relative quiet, helps us hear a different voice – sometimes our own, and sometimes that of the Spirit. Jesus went up mountains alone, “knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:15 NIV11) on more than one occasion, “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” (Luke 6:12 NIV11). If Jesus needed solitude, so do we.
- Go somewhere different. Same old sights, same old thoughts. I vary my prayer walks in length, direction and location. One time it’s clockwise, another anti-clockwise. One day a park, another the woods, a third the railway line (disused!). Elijah needed a different location to understand God’s message to him (1 Kings 19.4 & verses 8-9 – a bush, a cave and a mountain). Even sitting in a different chair might make all the difference. When I am at home I move my thinking or praying-chair to different parts of the garden or room.
- Go somewhere empty. Leave the laptop, tablet and phone at home (or at least in the bag – turned off). Was this part of the reason Jesus told his disciples to, “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.” (Mark 6:8 NIV11)? The less we carry the less we worry. When distractions are diminished, the brain has space to imagine.