Decorating the sanctuary for Christmas 2017.
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.
Lately I’ve been reflecting on my time as a youth at a Lutheran outdoor camp in Kansas. One clear memory is of my time with my counselor and cabin mates sitting outdoors having T.A.W.G. time. The playful camp acronym stood for Time Alone with God. Every day our counselor would carve out half an hour where we sat quietly, reflectively, alone with our Creator. We had Bibles and journals and were encouraged to read, write, pray or reflect. Sometimes our counselor had us do T.A.W.G. time inside our cabin. My favorite times though were when we would go for a hike and do T.A.W.G. time on one of the camp’s scenic hilltops, or in one of the forested outdoor chapels, or alongside the creek bed. At first it was difficult for me to focus during this time of quietness with God. I didn’t know exactly what to do and my mind would frequently wander to what dinner might be that night, or if we would go swimming that afternoon. T.A.W.G. time was a challenging discipline.
It only took a couple of days, however, to really get into the groove of spending time in solitude and prayer. I made a game of looking up a bible verse or two and journaling about them. Sometimes I would take a handful of colored pencils and create artwork reflecting my thoughts and prayers. Sometimes I would let my thoughts take on a conversation with God, chatting in my head silently about what I was struggling with or a particular joy I’d experienced that day. And I was amazed to find that by the end of the week, not only did I leave camp with fun memories and friends and experiences, I left camp feeling centered and grounded in who I was as a child of God. God spoke to me in the stillness, moved me spiritually, and that re-charged my soul’s batteries. I left camp feeling connected to my Creator and yearning to do T.A.W.G. time every day.
Jesus must have known the importance of Time Alone with God. Consistently throughout the gospels we hear stories of how he went off by himself to pray or to be alone. Oftentimes the bookends of his T.A.W.G. were ministry with crowds of people wanting to hear him teach or experience his healing touch. That service to others was undoubtedly taxing on him. And I’m sure that he encountered many challenges working with people from all walks of life. So, he took time to connect with his Creator and to listen for the voice of God in the midst of a hectic and demanding calling.
I believe that time is what helped sustain Jesus in his ministry and his journey to the cross. Because he was able to regularly commune with God, he had the clarity of mission and sense of wholeness that he needed when life got rough. Time with God recharged and transformed him. It does the same for us! When we take time to be still and know God (Psalm 46), we hear God’s voice within our souls. We are sustained in our life’s callings, and given the power we need to overcome life’s adversities. It may be a difficult discipline, but T.A.W.G. time is essential for us Christians.
So today…I’m going to carve out a little time alone with God…and feel my soul start to recharge.
On behalf of my family, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to St. Mark Lutheran. During my father's illness and through his last days, each of you were an extension of Christ's love and comfort to our family. The beautiful cards with kind words, the meals, the calls, texts, emails, and hugs were so comforting and meaningful to me and to my family. St. Mark continues to be such a deep well of love and comfort and a beautiful expression of Christian community. In the words of the apostle Paul, "I thank my God every time I remember you..." (Phil. 1:3)
The Grumbling-Delerme Family
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