Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm and said: “Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its size? Surely you know? Who stretched out the measuring line for it? Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling bands? When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves stop?Job 38: 1, 4-5, 8-11
The pandemic has made us more mindful about our hands. We take much more care about what our fingers touch. And we wash our hands more thoroughly and more often. This heightened awareness can be coupled with the following Christian mindfulness exercise.
Put something on your dominant hand, like a Band-Aid, a different ring or a mark with a pen. This will help you notice your hands more frequently during this exercise.
Then, when you touch something or someone, do it with intentional kindness. Be gentle and aware. Feel grateful for the things you touch. Feel love for the people you are touching.
Think of the kind touch of Jesus. He reached out to the leper. He created furniture and bowls from wood. He did it all with love. With His grace, we can bring more love to our daily round.
Another Christian mindfulness practice involving touch during the pandemic is here.
Jesus had a lot of respect for his cousin, John the Baptist, saying, “Among those born of woman, there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” His mother probably told him about her participation in the birth.
I’ve always thought that God was gracious to Mary to guide her to visit her elderly relative, Elizabeth, and her unborn baby. The unborn John the Baptist told his mom via the Holy Spirit that Mary was pregnant with the Messiah.
That allowed the two women who were experiencing miraculous pregnancies to talk about the implications for three months. I’m sure it helped prepare Mary to go face Joseph and the rest of Nazareth as an unmarried pregnant girl.
John the Baptist lived out in nature. Perhaps that was the only way he could commune so deeply with God.
Once he started his ministry, he also started looking for someone. Which one was the Messiah? Did his mother already tell him it was his relative Jesus? Did Jesus and John have a friendship as children? On this, the Bible is silent.
There are so many things that I’d love to know, and I’m happy to believe that all my questions will eventually be answered. Just as all the questions of John the Baptist were.
John Eldredge released “Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad” in February. Then the world went madder.
The only real advice that went out of date by March were the steps to unplug from technology overload. Toning it down is smart, but technology has proven its value during the pandemic.
Otherwise, Eldredge encourages:
- Inserting multiple One-Minute (or longer) Pauses in our day.
- Turning everyone and everything over to God through benevolent detachment.
- Being kind to yourself.
- Enjoying the beauty of nature often.
Eldredge is an outdoorsman who lived in Colorado with acreage, mountains and horses. His ways of seeking Christian mindfulness reflect that.
Overall, the book on Christian mindfulness practices is a gentle read. It has a 5-star review from nearly 300 people on Amazon and a 4.6-star review from 380 people on GoodReads. Eldredge also created an app, One Minute Pause, for the exercises in the book.
The book encouraged me to use benevolent detachment multiple times a day, particularly as a new opening to my nightly examen practice.
Christian mindfulness enjoins you to police your own thoughts, behaviors, spending habits and other actions with an eye to observing God’s law, while trusting in God’s mercy to shower forth love and forgiveness — even on those who have hurt you, or who oppose you politically, or whose moral values are at odds with your own.
If Jesus could ask God to forgive those who crucified Him, even though we have no reason to believe that they asked for God’s forgiveness, shouldn’t you ask God’s forgiveness for all those whose behavior doesn’t meet with your approval?Carl McColman, “The Big Book of Christian Mysticism”
Social distancing can result in upsetting conversations over Zoom and via social media. This is particularly true when we reach out to others who are upset, one way or the other, over systemic racism and/or the pandemic and/or everything.
Working with the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, we can detox from these conversations to return to deep inner peace. It involves, first, identifying how we are feeling. Angry? Disgusted? Sad?
Rather than running away or ignoring the feeling, accept it. Lift it up to the Holy Spirit in prayer. Gently listen to your own thoughts in Christian mindfulness, returning to deep breathing and the Jesus prayer when needed.
Next, calm your feelings. Ask Jesus to be with you as you take care of yourself like you would take care of an upset child. Be fully mindful of your own state. Remember: God is here. God is now. He is with you in your pain and sorrow.
As you calm down, release the emotion to God. As you release, listen. Do you hear a message about something you should do or not do? Did this upset come from a sin area or a false way that you see yourself or the world?
Just keep calming and releasing the problem to God, being willing to do His will. If you are listening in humility, God will be there in a transformational way.
Walking in Christian mindfulness through ongoing pandemic and racial injustice requires faith that abiding in Jesus will bring us peace. In reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Peace Is Every Step,” I found that Buddhists believe achieving inner peace is necessary to achieving a peaceful world.
In the introduction, the Dalai Lama writes: “Although attempting to bring about world peace through internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way. Wherever I go, I express this, and I am encouraged that people from many different walks of life receive it well. Peace must first be developed within an individual. And I believe that love, compassion and altruism are the fundamental basis for peace.”
As a Christian, I think we achieve true inner peace by abiding in Jesus. For me, His graces are necessary to overcoming my anxious nature. All the Christian mindfulness exercises I do … and the Buddhist exercises that I adapt … are ways to practice opening the door to God.
An explanation of the differences between Buddhist mindfulness and Christian mindfulness is here.
Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is within us. I do agree that prayer, study and Christian mindfulness practices help us all to walk left-foot, right-foot with God in love, compassion and altruism.
To expect that we cannot achieve peace until everyone is on that path is sad. But I do agree with the Buddhists that inner transformation makes outer peace easier. To be like Jesus … willing to meet people where they are in love … is the path forward.
Living in a fallen world has been especially tough this year. Anger, fear, anxiety … it’s all fallout from a time of protest and pandemic. Brokenness is all around us as well as within us.
I was feeling worried and weary recently. Then Jesus reminded me of a great truth: He wants me to be at peace and without fear. The only way I can do that in a fallen world is to keep my focus on Him.
Focusing on the presence of Jesus gives us strength to do what we need to do. Jesus wants us to live without fear, and He gives us the ability to do that. But we have to focus on Him.
That doesn’t mean that we ignore the pandemic or the issues that are causing the protests. We seek Jesus first, and He gives us all the strength, courage and wisdom we need to do what is right. And he gives us joy and peace as we abide in Him.
“The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” — Zephaniah 3:17
Today is National Get Outdoors Day for 2020. It’s a good time to think back: Do you remember the endless summers of your childhood? I loved mine.
Is there something from those days that you can bring back into your routine? Swimming pools? Old movies on hot afternoons? Reading in a homemade tent in the back yard? Making real lemonade?
The summer ahead is going to be a little odd. Our neighborhood swimming pool is closed, and many of the regular adventures are curtailed. But we can buy a blow-up pool for the back porch to cool our feet in!
We can also take devotionals and prayer books to the woods or to a metro garden to spend time worshipping God within His creation.
Make a plan to do something outdoors to bring back those wonderful summers. After all, we don’t know how many summers we each have left.
Walking in Christian mindfulness in the presence of Jesus looks a certain way. We are each individuals, but consistencies exist. The Bible details them.
Here’s a list of what it looks like to live in God’s presence, put together by Ken Boa and Jenny Abel in their free PDF, “A Guide to Practicing God’s Presence.”
They suggest that we start by picking one of the descriptions below. Put on a card and keep it by our beds. Meditate on this verse morning and evening, asking God to help you live it.
Here are the suggested verses:
- Abide in Jesus. (John 15:45)
- Love God and your neighbor. (Matthew 22:37-40)
- Set your mind on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:5-6)
- Walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16,25)
- Set your heart on the things above. (Colossians 3:1-2)
- Rejoice always. (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
- Pray continually. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- Give thanks in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
- Run the race of life with endurance. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
- Submit yourself to God. (Romans 12:1-2)
- Press on toward the goal. (Philippians 3:12-14)
- Dwell on whatever is excellent and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:6-8)
- Remember God. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)
Other resources to support your Christian mindfulness journey are listed here.