I like the verb to ‘consider’. It’s a good word. It’s defined in the dictionary as follows:
1. To think carefully about; reflect.
2. To think or deem to be; regard as.
3. To form an opinion about.
4. To take into account; bear in mind.
5. To show consideration for.
6. To look at thoughtfully.
This kind of ‘considering’ is a neglected practice for many, especially followers of Jesus. And yet Ecclesiastes 7:13 could not be clearer when it says: ‘Consider what God has done.’ And Hebrew 10:24 similarly invites us to ‘consider how to spur each other on to love and good deeds.’ So I need to give time for considering, and I suspect you do too. That’s why I’ve been having a Reading Week this week. Not as holiday, but actually as work. I have a couple of days left and so far it’s been really valuable.
I could have gone away and stayed in a Guest House or cheap hotel, but I actually chose to come and stay with my good friend Iain in the United States. I searched the internet for the cheapest plane tickets I could find and flew out last week. He’s been busy at work all day allowing me reading time and then we’ve caught up in the evenings and at the weekend. His house has no TV to distract, and the most amazing view over Lake Michigan. It’s the ideal place to consider.
Here’s what I wrote in my Journal on Saturday.
‘It’s great to be here and have ‘space’ to think and rest and consider. In our busy western live there is little time for considering. When we do have time we’re often tired or lazy so we end up putting on the TV, wanting to be entertained to fill the space. But we need the space not to be immediately filled – because we need space to consider. Space to take stock. Space to think. Space to pray.’
I am grateful for that – today – and this week. And it’s been very fruitful.
I’ve missed my wife Sam, and my boys, and I’m looking forward to catching up with them later on this week as it’s Half Term. I value them so much and mustn’t neglect them. But this considering time has been really good. I’ve had my mind stretched through reading, thinking, praying and writing. I’ve enjoyed chatting with Iain, finding out what’s going on in his life, what he’s reading and planning and hoping for. And of course when you travel you have all kinds of experiences and meet all sorts of fascinating people. Here are just three.
So I chatting with Tom, the part-time truck/ part time cab-driver who picked me up from O’Hare airport and gave me the low-down on current US politics. He’s hoping Obama doesn’t get in next time. And then there was Laura, the waitress at Wine Knot, the bistro in Kenosha where we ate on Saturday night, who served us so well and was excited when Iain decided he not only wanted to pay for our meal, but also for the people sitting on the table behind us who’d we chatted to earlier on. And yesterday at church I met Matt, an intern at Crossways Church who comes from Guilford (in the UK) and is presently studying part-time at the famous Trinity Evangelical School down the road in Deerfield. He loves the United States but can’t understand why everyone here isn’t as excited as him about the Rugby World Cup Final! All three are interesting people. All with things to do, an opinion to share and a story to tell. A story to consider.
So this week for me is about intentionally creating a context to help me read and consider. It’s good to have a little space like that every day: time to think; to pray; to be inspired by God’s word. That’s what Psalm 119:15-16 encourages us to do regularly when it says:
‘I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways, I delight in your decrees, I will not neglect your Word.’
I do do that. Every day. And find it really beneficial. If you don’t do that then make a start. Start today. But every now and then I know I need a longer more concentrated time too. Like I’m having now. And I suspect many of us do too.
Of course you don’t need to get on a plane and travel half way round the world in order to consider. There are lots of ways you can do that right where you are. The important thing is that you do it. So… are you doing it? If not, get out your diary, plan the time and find the space.
There is great value in having space to consider.