Last week, Gem and I were given the gift of a work week at a friend’s cabin in Southeastern Utah. It sits at about 8,000’ in a part of the state between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. It is remote enough to have no cellular or internet connectivity. That was a gift rather than a liability for us.
The time away wasn’t intended as a vacation but as a week to work on a next book project with IVP that Gem and I will co-write. Since it won’t become available until sometime in 2019, Lord willing, I won’t say much more about it than that it is about how to remain engaged in the transforming journey into which Jesus invites us. We got away with the intention to lay a good foundation as we begin writing the first draft.
So even though our Facebook pages looked like we were on vacation (with lots of pictures of local beauty), we were spending the majority of the time thinking, praying; and collecting ideas, presentation materials and journal excerpts that we will draw from as we do the writing that lies ahead.
You’re probably aware by now that the tagline for Unhurried Living is “Rest Deeper. Live Fuller. Lead Better.” What we found so encouraging last week was that it works. We have not had a more deeply restful week, a week more abundant in the life of God in us or a more productive week of work in a very long time.
We ended up gathering about 35,000 words of content from the various sources we mined for ideas. (For reference, the final book will be somewhere around 60,000 words). Some of it will need to be pruned back rather dramatically. Some will need to be watered and cultivated since it is only seed at present. But by the end of the week, we had a strong outline and a significant start on nearly every chapter of the project.
We were especially grateful for the focused prayers and encouragement of our Unhurried Living Community. They are a core group of 100-some friends, partners, pray-ers and supporters who were very intentional about praying for our week away. They had a huge impact on the fruitfulness of our work. (If you’d like to be part of this inner circle on this separate email list you can sign up at this link).
There was something about being away and withdrawing from the normal connectivity of our lives that enabled us to do very fruitful work together. Restful, fruitful work. What a gift!
On the last day of our time away, Gem and I thought and talked together about how we might experiment with bringing this restful, fruitful rhythm back home with us to our normal, far-more-connected world. There were a few rhythms that we decided to more intentionally cultivate:
- Seek to limit our engagement with emails and social media to late morning and late afternoon, rather than letting them be omnipresent in our thoughts and emotions throughout the day.
- Begin each morning enjoying the presence of God in scripture, in prayer, in nourishing spiritual reading, in journaling.
- Allow the first part of our morning to flow from enjoying God to working with God in creative, focused projects like writing, content development and strategic work in developing Unhurried Living.
- Be more intentional about a true, 24-hour Sabbath each week, usually Friday dinner through Saturday dinner. In seasons of busier travel (like I’ll have over the next three months), we’ll seek to be creative about rescheduling that weekly day).
- Experiment with remaining unattached to media and internet on weekday evenings. Instead, enjoy dinner outdoors (as weather permits), enjoy conversation, or reading, or a neighborhood walk. Aim for whatever might feel soul restful.
- Put our smart phones on “Do Not Disturb” from dinner until late morning. (We’ll plan to handle phone calls, appointments, and administrative details generally in the afternoon).
Now, as I write this post on my first morning back home in the office, I can see that these intentions will be a challenge. Quite a few details have collected in our absence. I like to solve those immediately and experience the satisfaction of closure.
But challenging is not the same as impossible. I am seeking to see them as a process into which we are being invited. The aim isn’t perfection. The aim is progress. We are seeking to change our sense of focus and that doesn’t happen quickly. We want to see if we can enter into a richer sense of how deep rest and abundant life can bear better fruit in our work.
Your work situation might be very different from ours. You may have less freedom or flexibility to try on our experiment. But is there one element you might try?
- How might you find a way to relax on an evening that wasn’t so dependent on media (social or otherwise), but included conversation, good reading, playing a game together, whatever?
- What resistances rise up in you arguing that such an experiment is unreasonable, even undesirable? Do you sense that resistance arises from the depths of your true desire, or might they be echoes of something old within you that needs to fade rather than be reinforced?
- Is there anything in our experiment that you think would help you take a step forward in resting deeper, living fuller and leading better?
We love to hear your responses or questions. Your friendship and interaction could help us enact our intentions more fruitfully.
You might also enjoy “Good Work Grows in the Soil of Good Rest”