The Deep Well with Erin Davis Podcast

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Episode 6: Alone with the Father

Season:  Connected   Buy

Laura Booz: Well, Erin, this is my favorite chapter. It’s my favorite episode of the entire season because I know this feeling so well.

In fact, when I was reading the chapter in your book. If you’re just joining us now, the book I’m talking about is Erin’s book that she wrote in 2014. I just find it amazing that God gave her this word “pandemic” before we ever had one! It’s called, Connected: Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling Alone Together.

Erin Davis: You got it!

Laura: There’s a chapter in this book, it’s chapter 8. In the margin I’ve just written, “Yes! 100%! Totally agree!” You share some truths in there that get right to the heart of the matter—right to the heart of those days when I am just feeling so desperately alone.

There have been days I go up to my bedroom, and I just lay on the ground face down and cry out to the Lord, because it’s so clear that He’s the only One who can meet me there. Have you ever felt that way?

Erin: Oh, I’ve felt that way. I might have felt that way earlier today. That’s a pretty frequent occurrence in my heart. But what hasn’t always been frequent is to take that step and to cry out to the Lord. I’ve burned a lot of time and energy and tears and worries trying to fix it in other ways instead of crying out to the Lord.

Laura: Well, I know in this episode you’re going to speak to each one of us, because we’ve all been in that place. We all need to know what to do. So let’s dive in.

This is The Deep Well with Erin Davis. I’m Laura Booz. I’m so grateful to be exploring God’s Word with Erin and the entire Deep Well community as we look at relationships.

Erin: Well, if you are a lover of good stories—and who isn’t?—then you probably already know the story of the Trojan War from Greek Mythology.

After a fruitless ten-year war against the city of Troy, the Greeks came up with a unique strategy. They constructed this massive structure. It looked like a horse, and it was hollow. Inside that hollow horse they hid an elite force of their best fighters. Think Seal Team Six inside this massive wooden horse.

They left it outside the gates of Troy, and the rest of the Greek army sailed off toward the horizon. Their enemies watched those boats go and believed that the fighting was finally over.

They assumed that the giant wooden horse was an offering to their false god Athena. So they wheeled the giant beast inside the fortified walls of their city—the fortified walls that had kept them safe during that long war. They wheeled that giant horse in.

And then night fell, and the Greek special force of fighters climbed out of their hiding place. They unlocked the gates for the rest of the Greek army who had returned under the cover of darkness. Troy was destroyed. The war ended, and the Greeks won.

Now, archeologists have confirmed that the War of Troy really occurred. In fact, they found evidence of the city of Troy being burned to the ground, but most of them think the Trojan horse is a myth.

It sure is a good one. It grabs our imaginations. As we continue to think about our connections with each other, I want it to because, as we’re talking about loneliness and connection, I want us to think about a different kind of Trojan horse—one that so many of us have pulled inside the gates of our own lives.

Let’s think of a Trojan horse as something that we invite into our lives because we think it’s a gift, but, in time, it turns and attacks us.

Now, technology can be a Trojan horse.

Perfectionism can be a Trojan horse.

We’ve already talked about how. If we have a low tolerance for our own mess and the messes of others, that can keep us disconnected.

But the Trojan horse I want us to tackle together in this episode doesn’t look like a giant horse.

It looks like your job.

It looks like your church.

It looks like—and here’s where some toes are going to get stepped on—it looks like your kids’ sports schedule.

In the war to live connected lives, the Trojan horse that’s sitting outside the gates—or inside the gates in some cases—is busyness.

Here’s a snapshot of just how big this idol has become: 80% of Americans work the equivalent of a second workday after leaving the office. Guilty.

Add to that, 10-million Americans work more than sixty hours per week. We work more hours here in America than any other advanced country.

More than half of us sleep less than six hours per night, which means that 40-million Americans suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. We’re simply too busy to sleep.

And when we ask each other, “How are you?” We have two standard responses—right? “We’re tired.” And, “We’re busy.” And we’re telling the truth.

Does this describe our own life? Those statistics describe mine, if I’m honest.

How about some of these thoughts:

Are you desperate for quality time with the people that you love the most, and you don’t know how to get it?

Do you wake up exhausted and go to bed exhausted?

Do you have very little or no time in your life for rest and reflection?

Several years ago, during the season I’ve talked about in this series, when I was so deeply lonely, or, rather, when I became aware of how lonely I was, I was also chronically exhausted. Now, some of that was circumstantial—two young children (that will wear you out). But a lot of it was how I structured my time. No matter how often I went to bed early or how many naps I took, I was just worn out.

I was standing in my kitchen one day, and my eyeballs hurt, I was so tired. It occurred to me that my big problem wasn’t sleep deprivation. It was sacred deprivation. There were no parts in my day; there were no parts in my week; there were no parts in my month; there were no parts in my year that were set apart—sacred—that were untouchable to the demands of my everyday life. So I was tired.

One study found that 60% of Christians feel that our hectic schedules prevent us from spending time with God—60% of us feel that our schedules prevent us from spending time with God. That is the definition of sacred deprivation.

Just this morning as I was preparing to teach on this, a friend texted me. Here’s what she said:

I’m really struggling. I’ve been doing so bad with giving God my time and focusing on Him. I want to be a godly woman. I want to crave the Word of God, but I just don’t even know how to get there.

She didn’t know I was going to be teaching on this.

I love that she texted me. I love that she reached out for help. I love that she realized that the root problem was the way she was spending her time, or, rather, the way she wasn’t spending her time. She wasn’t spending time with Jesus. She isn’t spending time in His Word.

I said, “Be encouraged because the Spirit is working in you that you even realize that and want to turn.”

None of us would say this out loud, but the reality of our lives sends a message, and the message is this: “Lord, I’m just too busy for You.”

No wonder we feel disconnected. We need God’s help. We can’t do this on our own. We can never do it in our flesh to see our schedules and our work differently. So I’m going to pray for Him to do that.

Jesus, we love You. You created our lives. You created our responsibilities. You created time, and yet stand outside of it. Who else could show us a different way to manage our lives?

And so, as we open Your Word, Lord, I pray that You will give us eyes to see the truth of how we are to live. I pray that we wouldn’t veer into shame or guilt or condemnation or legalism, Lord, but that we would be liberated to live lives connected to You. It’s in Your name I pray, amen.

I’d love for you to turn in your Bibles to Proverbs 14:4, that book of wisdom. I, being a farm girl, love how much of that wisdom is agrarian, and this verse is an example.

Proverbs 14:4 says this: “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”

That might feel like a strange verse to us if we’re not farmers, but it gives us two contrasting images here. The first one is a barn without an ox.

Now, there’s this trend right now for weddings to be happening in barns, but barns are actually not for weddings. Barns are for livestock. So this first barn here might be a wedding venue. There’s no ox. It’s a clean barn. But, like I said, barns aren’t meant to be clean. They’re meant to be used.

And then there’s the second picture, the second barn. And in the second barn, there is an ox. And what’s the result of that barn with the oxen in it? “Abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” What’s the result of the second barn? Abundant crops. Usefulness. Fruitfulness. Productivity.

Work is good. We see way back in Genesis that work is not a product of the curse. Fruitless work is a product of the curse. And so, work is good. The Bible esteems hard work. Somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty times Scripture talks about the value of work. Work produces something—like that barn with the oxen in it. It’s not an equivalent to busyness. Work produces fruit of some kind.

Now, Scripture adds balance to our view of work, and it’s the kind of balance that we often don’t add to our approach to work.

Scripture mentions Sabbath rest close to 150 times. So work about thirty times; Sabbath rest about 150 times. It seems to me we have our wires crossed.

We cannot know and be known in the leftover slots of our calendar.

We cannot have deep intimacy in the midst of constant chaos.

We cannot produce or have God produce in us good fruit if we think busyness is the same thing as productivity.

We cannot nurture a relationship with God when there’s no time for Him.

So how do we fix what we’ve broken? Let’s look at what Jesus did—that’s always a good path to take.

One thing I notice in the Gospels is that Jesus spent a lot of time alone. Actually, what Jesus did was He spent a lot of time alone with the Father—not just alone—but alone with the Father.

One of the most pivotal moments in Jesus’ earthly ministry was what we call the “Feeding of the 5,000.” (If you read the text, it was actually a lot more people than that.) So, picture it: There are thousands of people there—thousands. And Jesus meets their needs. He gives them truth. And then the story has a weird ending.

Let me read us Matthew 14:22–23:

Immediately (I think that word is compelling—immediately) he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

Try to imagine you’ve never heard about the feeding of the 5,000 before. Try to see it with fresh eyes. Picture what happened: Thousands of people come to Jesus. They witness with their own eyes and with their own taste buds this miracle. They eat miracle bread. They eat miracle fish. They hear Him say these really profound things. And then do you think they just packed up and headed home? No.

You know there were follow-up conversations.

There was probably, like, a line of folks who wanted their own tailor-made miracle. Right? They’d seen what He could do.

I’m sure there were people who wanted to pray with Jesus. I’m sure there were people who wanted Jesus to come to their homes. I’m sure that as a result of this there was a renewed burst of attention toward Jesus.

I don’t think that Jesus fed those crowds and then suddenly His schedule cleared up and that He suddenly had time to go feed His own Spirit.

The Bible says “immediately”—immediately. While the bread was still in their mouths, He dismissed the disciples. He dismissed the crowds. He walked away to be alone with the Father. And this is not an outlier. It was not a rare occurrence. It was the norm for Jesus.

Matthew 13:1: we find Jesus sitting alone by a lake.

Matthew 15:29: we see Him sitting alone on the side of a mountain.

Luke 22:41: He pulls away from the disciples to pray by Himself.

These are not the things we paint into our Christian art, maybe not even what we picture when we picture Jesus. We picture Him in the crowds. Right? We picture Him on the boat with the disciples. He did all of that, but a lot of times, at the pinnacle at the moment, He’d just walk away and be with the Father.

Luke 5:16, if I read it from the Christian Standard Version, says, “Yet he often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.” Often. Not rarely. Not sometimes. “He often withdrew to the deserted places.” This was a rhythm in Jesus’ life.

He did not wait for someone to give Him a permission slip, because no one was ever going to. He didn’t wait for someone to say, “Jesus, do You need a little quiet? Do You need a little time to pray?”

This also strikes me: He never apologized for it. Never. He never said, “I’m sorry, but I need to go.” Nope.

He never said, “I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed another miracle.” Nope.

He went to be with His Father—over and over. And His teaching infuriated the Pharisees, but I have a hunch this habit of Jesus’ infuriated His disciples, as it would have infuriated me if I was in the mix.

But Jesus, being fully God and fully man, made time to be alone with His Father. That is reason enough for us to do the same.

We’ve been in a series about loneliness, and so far, in this episode we really haven’t talked about loneliness much. But here’s what I want you to know: It’s paradoxical to think that spending time alone with God can ease our loneliness. It’s mysterious. I don’t know how that works, but I know it does.

I know in my own life, when I feel lonely, I often don’t need to be around people more. I need to be with the Father more. I get confused about why my cup is empty. And it’s a good place to start—to be alone with the Lord.

This is just one way. We need re-programmed about how living connected lives really works. We need time alone with the Lord. We need to turn away from life’s constant demands—and they are constant. We’ve got to walk toward peace.

I love the picture that David gives us of this in Psalm 131:2. David says this: “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

I know this because I’ve nursed four babies. A baby who is still nursing does not snuggle in closely to his mama, because he wants to be fed. He will wiggle, and he will cry, and he will whimper.

David gives us a contrast to that. Inside his soul, he says, “I’m like a weaned child with its mother. I’m free to just nestle in and be with the Lord. I don’t have to ask Him for anything, though I can. I don’t have to feel worry that He’s not going to meet my need. I can just snuggle in to the Father like a weaned child with his mother.”

He quiets himself. He doesn’t wait for anyone else to quiet him. He heeds God’s command that’s so famous that we say it so often. It’s also in the book of Psalms, “Be still and know that I am God.”

God doesn’t say, “I will make you be still.” He says, “Be still”—like a weaned child with his mama.

Here’s a question for you to think about—it’s not rhetorical. Give the real answer in your heart or out loud: When was the last time you were still?

This is basically how I operate: I wake up. I run, run, run, run, run, run, run. I sit down, and I fall asleep. (laughter) That’s most of my days. My husband knows if he turns a movie on, it better be a movie he likes because I’m going to be asleep in about five minutes. Part of that is because I have a very full life and a lot going on, and part of that’s because I can go many twenty-four-hour cycles without being still with the Lord.

If we are never still, or rarely still with God, we will live disconnected, and we will feel a soul loneliness.

Here’s something else Jesus did: He honored the Sabbath.

We first see that word “sabbath” in Exodus 16:23. The Israelites had just been delivered from slavery, and as slaves, all day, every day, was planned out for them. They didn’t have any say on how they spent their free time—there was no free time. They spent it making bricks.

And so, the Lord emancipates them. They’re living in the wilderness, and they have to learn how to live. So God gives them this commandment, Exodus 16:23:

This is what the Lord has commanded: "Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.” 

Sabbath is a God-given rhythm that we find woven throughout all of God’s Word. You probably already know it’s one of the Ten Commandments. Work, performance, and achievement are not on that important list of instructions.

So can we assume that Sabbath, since it’s all throughout the Bible, since Jesus Himself observed it, since God, as He is teaching His people how to live, started with this. That it is of paramount importance to God?

In Leviticus 23, God was giving Moses instructions for the seven feasts of Israel. Again, God was giving the nation of Israel their calendar. And before He gives Moses the feasts, He commands, again, a rhythm of Sabbath. And the feasts, they observed them in the wilderness, but they took them into the Promised Land. And God is saying Sabbath is for the wilderness, and Sabbath is for the Promised Land, and Sabbath is for you, and Sabbath is for all of God’s people.

Here’s what it says in Leviticus 23:32:

It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. [If you’re a write-in-your-Bible girl, you might circle “afflict.”] On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.

Afflict—this is not easy Sabbath. It requires self-denial. Again, that’s paradoxical, that rest could require self-denial. But it is because it requires us to acknowledge that, when we rest, the world keeps spinning without us.

We will all have to fight a nearly constant gravitational pull from Sabbath. It is annoying to pull the brakes on our busyness. It is inconvenient. It will frustrate other people. And yet, the command of God’s Word, and the example of Jesus says: “Do it anyway.”

In the Old Testament, we find Sabbath mostly as a command. And it can feel like a rule when we read about it in the Old Testament . . . and it was. In the New Testament, Jesus shows us how life-giving this rule is.

In Mark 2, the Pharisees tried to condemn Jesus and His disciples for eating grain together on the Sabbath. If you know the story, they were walking along a grain field, popping the heads off of the grain and eating them on the Sabbath. And the Pharisees, who were on the hunt to find something to accuse Jesus of, accused Him of not observing the Sabbath. And Jesus’ response to them is a gold nugget when we think about the rhythms for our own lives.

Verse 27 says:

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

Sabbath is a gift that we’ve left unwrapped. And Sabbath is not, according to Jesus’ example, a place for just shutting down and for shutting everyone else out.

The Old Testament Israelites observed the Sabbath together. It was a community choice. And Jesus, here, He takes a walk, and He eats with His disciples on the Sabbath.

So if we follow Jesus’ example, Sabbath is time set apart to rest. It’s a time set apart to seek the Lord. And it’s margin to connect with those you love.

We’ve been trained to think a different way. We’ve been trained to think that full schedules equal meaningful relationships with God and others.

And the Bible gives us an alternative: Stop. Pull away. Be with the Lord. Stop. Rest. Eat a good meal. Be together. Connect. And do that next week, and do that next week, and do that next week, and do that next week—until the Lord comes back.

So let me tell the story of the Trojan horse with an alternate ending: After a ten-year war, the Greeks retreat, and they leave in their place a giant wooden horse. And the Trojans have a moment of clarity. “This does not make sense.”

The jig is up. The small team of soldiers is easily exposed, and they’re defeated. Troy wins.

God is worthy of the very best of our time and energy—not the leftovers—because, let’s be honest, there are no leftovers. And our husbands and our children and our friends, they deserve a version of us that is not chronically stretched thin.

As I think of this area of my life and I think about where I was when I wrote the book, Connected, I’m so grateful because there’s growth here. I’m not suffering from sacred deprivation. I do have rhythms with the Lord and with others. I don’t feel lonely anymore.

We really can change. In fact, God really can change us. (That’s the only way we can change.) We don’t have to be exhausted and disconnected all the time.

So as someone with only one life to live, you deserve to know that rich relationships with Jesus and rich relationships with people really are possible. You can re-write your own story, you know. You don’t have to keep pace with the rest of the world. You can spend time alone with the Lord today. You can ask Him to help you live without chronic sacred deprivation. You can put Sabbath on your calendar right now as you’re listening.

I wanted to wrap up this episode by reading David’s words from Psalm 46. They reorient me, and I hope they reorient you away from the allure of busyness. They push back against that Trojan horse.

If you’re listening, and you can, read along with me. I’m going to read Psalm 46:8–11:

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.

"Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Laura: That’s Erin Davis, reminding us of the number one thing we need when we’re tempted by loneliness—not to fill it with more stuff, not to fill it with more commitment, more busyness—but we need a relationship with God Himself.

If you’d like to know a little more about how to fight loneliness, then grab a copy of Erin’s book. It’s called, Connected: Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling Alone Together. And you can pick that up fromReviveOurHearts.com/TheDeepWell.

At this point in the episode, we like to break away and hear from Erin unscripted.

Erin Unscripted

Laura: Erin, I know this isn’t prescriptive. I know you’re not going to give me a formula right now. But I would love to know what your personal time with Jesus looks like.

Erin: I’d love to tell you. It’s the best part of every day.

I’m an early riser by nature, but as I age, and as I have more and more demands on my life, I think that nature could easily shift into a not-so-early riser. But I protect it pretty fiercely because that is my time with the Lord.

So I get up quite a bit earlier than I need to get up for my responsibilities to my work and my family. I turn on the tea kettle while I fold a load of laundry. And that little ritual of waiting for the water to boil while I fold a load of laundry wakes my brain up. And then, when the laundry is folded and the water is hot, I take a cup of tea to my living room, and I open my Bible.

I usually spend about forty-five minutes to an hour there with the Lord just reading and thinking. I would say reading my Bible is the way I hear from the Lord the loudest. So most of that time is spent reading a passage, journaling through that passage, making notes in my Bible about that passage. Then I say a prayer, and my feet hit the floor, and I’m off to the races.

That’s my daily rhythm. Then I set aside Fridays of every week to seek the Lord a little bit differently. I have just some kind of planned prayer times on Fridays and keep a running list of needs. When people ask me to pray for them, I’m glad I can always say, “Yes. You’re on my Friday list.”

So I try to really scale back my Friday schedule. In fact, I just made some pretty significant changes to my Friday schedule in order to protect that time.

So this is all happening while raising my kids and while working. It’s not like I go away to a mountain cabin for all of these things—although that sounds nice! It’s happening in the midst of my life, but it’s planned. It is scheduled, and it is set apart. It’s not negotiable, and I don’t think I can live without it.

Laura: That’s awesome! Keep going!

Erin: Thanks.

Laura: So, when it comes to your family schedule and your work and all the stuff, have you ever had to make some hard decisions about opting out of busyness for the sake of spending time with Jesus?

Erin: For sure. In fact, not only have I ever had to, but I’m always having to. I mean, we’ve all heard that “good is the enemy of best” and those kinds of things, and they’re true. So we prune. My husband and I have pretty regular rhythms of saying, “It’s just all on the table. Let’s just put everything on the table—everything we’re doing. Let’s just talk about it all.” And, “Is it all necessary?” A lot of times we’ll make some cuts there.

I’m a writer. I love to write. It’s one of my top three favorite things to do in life. I could do a lot of free-lance writing, and I would really love to do free-lance writing, but I say no to most free-lance writing assignments for lots of reasons—to protect my time with the Lord and just to protect my time with my family and to have some rest rhythms in there, too.

It stings every time, because I love to write. I want to be writing. I’d rather be writing than doing almost anything else. A lot of times people are offering to pay me to write. So it’s like . . . I hate to say no to that, but it’s necessary to fight the beast of busyness that always seems to be growling for my attention.

Laura: That’s good.

I personally find it so difficult to navigate through all the opportunities for my kids—invitations and just everything seems so good. And, like you just said, “good can be the enemy of the best.” Right?

Erin: Right.

Laura: I really long to grow in wisdom about this. How do you think we can?

Erin: Well, the way we grow in wisdom about anything. The Bible tells us, “If you lack wisdom, you can ask the Lord for it, and He’ll give it to you generously and without finding fault.” And so, right there, take a beat.

Have we ever asked the Lord for wisdom about what activities are kids are in? Or have we just done it and asked the Lord to bless it? Those are not the same thing.And did we ask Him for wisdom once, and then we stop asking Him for wisdom?

So it takes that discernment, but it takes that connection with the Lord. It has to be an outflow of that.

But, Laura, you said something to me once that has really been formative for me. You said, “Home is so life-giving.” And it is. It is so life-giving.

It’s just another way, I think, that we can be counter-cultural, because I think there is a message that we pick up on that “activity is so life-giving.” And it often isn’t. There is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to our family’s activities. We often don’t know that the returns have been diminishing until we’re already signed up for eighty-two things. Right?

So I think it just takes a lot of evaluation and humility and a willingness to disappoint people. But it’s worth it to have a life-giving home.

Laura: Yes. It sure is.

You’re making me think of the passage of Scripture that says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:1).

I think we have to do that in regard to our schedules. I mean, the pattern of this world is, “Sign them up. They should be in a sport, in a music lesson, in an art lesson. They should be learning about politics and going to camp and doing all the things.” And we honestly cannot sustain that.

Erin: There’s some balance. I would say, my oldest son really loves basketball. And I have been pretty resistant for a couple of years to that just because of the ways it has impacted my schedule. And my husband at one point was like, “Erin, this is really important to him. And this is a way that we love him by supporting him in this.”

So I would not swing it so far as to say that you never have any activities because one way I am being connected to my boy right now is by being there in those bleachers and cheering my heart out for something that he really loves—even though I’d rather be at home.

So it’s not a hard and fast rule of no activity. We could be legalistic about it, I think.

Laura: Oh, yes. So easily. Right? But that’s where the “being transformed” by the Lord and His Word is so helpful, because He then gives us the grace and the help to think about those things.

I do find in marriage it’s so helpful to have that unity, because there will be times, too, when I’m ready to just plow ahead and sign up. Or I’m kind of skittish and not wanting to move ahead, and Ryan might have a different perspective.

Erin: Right.

Laura: One of the things that some older friends of ours told us in regard to making decisions, especially about your calendar or your finances in marriage . . . Hopefully this seems related to this series we’re doing here, but one of the things they told us was to seek unity.

So you might not be able to have all of your decisions laid out, you might not know every little “I” dotted and “T” crossed, but: Are you unified in anything? Take a step there, and then take the next step.

Erin: I love that

Laura: So that helps with our schedule.

Erin: It does help.

Laura: Sometimes Ryan will say, “Well, if you’re going to sign up—say to lead a Bible study at church; I’m always gunning to do that . . .

Erin: Sure. Me, too.

Laura: “I know I have six kids, and I’m homeschooling, and can hardly get out the door, but sign me up! I’m your girl.”

He’ll say, “Oh, Sweetie, I really want you to be able to do that. Why don’t you say, ‘Look, I can commit for the first two weeks, and then I need to evaluate it, if it’s really working for us or not.’” Because sometimes you really don’t know until you get the thing rolling.

Erin: That’s so wise.

Laura: You want to be able to say upfront, like, “I’m just so human, and I’m going to respect these boundaries that I have and my limitations and weaknesses, so count on me for Week 1, and then we’ll evaluate.”

Erin: I love that.

Laura: Another expression that I just love and think about a lot—sometimes I’ll actually write it on a Post-It note or something and put it up because I need to bring it to remembrance—is: The people around us won’t necessarily remember all we’ve done or all we’ve given them or even all we’ve said. But they’ll remember how we made them feel.

And when we’re busy, no matter what we say or what we hand over to someone or what we do for somebody, I think sometimes we can miss that important aspect of loving the person.

So, taking the time and kind of making margin in your life, trusting the Lord with our time. I think, “Wow! That would really help for someone to feel treasured.”

Erin: It’s for sure

A little low verbal cue that I listen for is when several people in a row in a short verse of time will say to me, “I know you’re busy, but . . .” And I’m, like, “Uh-oh.”

We’ve either got a reality problem or a perception of reality problem here, because I would much rather them feel like, “Erin is available to me.” And instead, they feel apologetic for even approaching me with something, and I’ve misstepped there somewhere along the way.

Laura: So, Erin, I want you to picture the ideal restful day, when you’re really just resting in the Lord, resting in His salvation. You don’t have to over-spiritualize it, but, really, what comes to mind? What does that look like for you?

Erin: Well, I want to be with my people, which is my husband and my kids. And I’d love to sleep in a little bit. My body is tired.

I’d love to eat good food, but not have to cook it and not have to do the dishes and not have the dishes sit in the sink, because that bothers me.

And then, I just would like to lay on the couches and watch old movies, or new movies—good movies—that are entertaining enough to make my eyelids not so heavy that I want to fall asleep in a minute.

I love it when my kids and I are just one big pile of bodies and blankets on the couch. We’re just lying there and enjoying what we’re doing.And that’s it. It’s that simple. Rest and my people and good food.

Laura: Great picture. Thanks for your honesty. I love that.

Erin: Thanks

I don’t know, you might be listening, and you might be thinking, What about church? Like Laura’s thinking, What about church?

I love going to church, and I’m so grateful that’s part of the rhythm of my life. But if it is the perfect Sabbath, it is a day of rest with the people that I love, and the Lord’s there. He’s with me in it.

Laura: What does your typical Sabbath day look like?

Erin: Well, we’re in COVID-19 still, so there’s the pandemic version. I’ll give you that version, and then I’ll give the non-pandemic version.

We’re doing home church with two other families right now. So we get up and head over to our friends’ house, and we actually meet in their barn, and we stream services from our church there. It’s really sweet. I love it a lot.

Sometimes somebody will bring a pan of blueberry muffins or sometimes somebody will whip up a batch of biscuits and gravy. A lot of times our kids are still in their footie pajamas. I just love it!

So we’ll watch church. We’ll sing the songs together. We watch the service together. A lot of times we’ll linger there for a long time, talking about what we just heard and what’s going on in our lives.

And then we mosey home . . . right now. We eat our lunch at home. I’ve still got some nappers, so they nap on Sunday afternoon. And, honestly, I usually work a little bit on Sunday afternoon. I try to meal prep on Sundays so that the rest of my week is smooth. Then that’s the day, for the most part.

Now, in the non-COVID world, we go to church with that same group of friends, but then there’s more of us. Then we try to go out to lunch with people from our church afterwards, and then we come home and do the napping and the meal prepping and all of that.

Laura: I take a lesson from the Jewish women of days gone by—or maybe even today. Honestly, when they’re working so hard to prepare for their Sabbath Day. They’ve got to get all the food baked and all the things ready because when the sun goes down on Sabbath Day, it’s Sabbath Day. Right?

And here we are on this side of redemptive history, I try to learn what Jesus means about keeping that Sabbath day holy. And what He really wants when He wants to restore my soul and bring me to Him.

So I find that I, too, need to make it a priority on all the days of the week. And I need to look forward to it. And I need to sometimes work hard to make sure it happens. Do you ever find that?

Erin: For sure. The cycle of the weeks happen so quickly. And it’s like, “Oh, we’re back to the weekend again!” or “We’re back to Monday again,” or we’re back to whatever. It’s like everything, if I don’t prepare for it, the tyranny of the urgent is a real force in all of our lives, and it is tyrannical. So, yes. I need to prepare for it.

And it’s the same thing for me. God is so kind. He gives such practical instructions so often. To the Israelites, when God gave them this command for this thing called Sabbath, He told them to prepare their food in advance and to get their work done before. That’s, like, “Oh, that’s so smart!” Lightbulb on in the brain!

Can’t I make a double-batch of lasagna and put one in the freezer? Can’t I make extra Sloppy Joes on Tuesday to prepare me for later? Is that keeping with what God intended? Well, it keeps with how God instructed us to observe it.

So I think it is wise to prepare. And if you think it is just going to happen, that these pockets of sacred rest are going to drop into your lap, they aren’t. So we fight for them, and we prepare for them.

Laura: That’s great.

Yes. I want to cycle back around to how this does to our loneliness. So, to wrap up this session, can you just bring us back around, thinking about how this is sacred, how this seeking the Lord gets to that ache of loneliness like nothing else can?

Erin: Well, loneliness is just that—it’s an ache. I don’t know if this is true of everybody’s hearts and lives, but it’s certainly true of me. I’ll get a gnawing ache in my heart, and I don’t even know what it is. I can’t even name it. I’m just off. I’m just hurting. I just don’t feel right.

So I might name it loneliness . . . and it might be. Or I might name it stress. Or I might name it frustration. But it’s not. It’s different. It’s an ache for the Lord to fill me back up. You know that idea that He fills our cups to overflowing. Only He can do that.

The world is always draining our cups. Only the Lord can fill our cups. And He’s so good, that you could just keep coming back to Him, keep coming back to Him, keep coming back to Him, keep coming back to Him. He really is a deep well.

So He satisfies the ache. That’s why this is the antidote to loneliness. It’s because it is the Lord who soothes our aches.

Laura: Yes. You bring to mind a verse from Isaiah 12, verse 3, where it says, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

I think that’s what you’ve been getting at this whole time.

Erin: Right.

Laura: Our relationship with Jesus is a deep well, and He is there for us to draw joy from over and over again—not just on the day of our salvation when we make our confession of faith in Him, but every single day to be coming back to Him.

Erin: Yes. The farm we live on has a deep well—a literal deep well—and the water is so good out of that well. I kind of hate to leave home because I have to drink icky hotel water or whatever. But the first time I drank water from that well, I was, like, “This is the best water I’ve ever tasted in my life!” And I still feel that way.

But I would have just drank from it once. I drink from it every day. I keep drinking from it. I keep needing, and the more I drink from it, the thirstier I am for it. And that’s the picture that Scripture is giving us of God: Drink from the well, and keep drinking from it.

Laura: That’s so good.

Remember: God’s Word is a deep well. You can lower your bucket and pull up truth every time. The Deep Well is a production of Revive Our Hearts, calling women to freedom, fullness and fruitfulness in Christ.

Learn how to connect with people—even needy people. Subscribe to The Deep Well podcast with Erin Davis. You’ll find it on your preferred podcast app, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com/TheDeepWell.


 

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Erin Davis - The Deep Well #6 

Laura Booz: Well, Erin, this is my favorite chapter. It’s my favorite episode of the entire season because I know this feeling so well.

In fact, when I was reading the chapter in your book. If you’re just joining us now, the book I’m talking about is Erin’s book that she wrote in 2014. I just find it amazing that God gave her this word “pandemic” before we ever had one! It’s called, Connected: Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling Alone Together.

Erin Davis: You got it!

Laura: There’s a chapter in this book, it’s chapter 8. In the margin I’ve just written, “Yes! 100%! Totally agree!” You share some truths in there that get right to the heart of the matter—right to the heart of those days when I am just feeling so desperately alone.

There have been days I go up to my bedroom, and I just lay on the ground face down and cry out to the Lord, because it’s so clear that He’s the only One who can meet me there. Have you ever felt that way?

Erin: Oh, I’ve felt that way. I might have felt that way earlier today. That’s a pretty frequent occurrence in my heart. But what hasn’t always been frequent is to take that step and to cry out to the Lord. I’ve burned a lot of time and energy and tears and worries trying to fix it in other ways instead of crying out to the Lord.

Laura: Well, I know in this episode you’re going to speak to each one of us, because we’ve all been in that place. We all need to know what to do. So let’s dive in.

This is The Deep Well with Erin Davis. I’m Laura Booz. I’m so grateful to be exploring God’s Word with Erin and the entire Deep Well community as we look at relationships.

Erin Davis: Well, if you are a lover of good stories—and who isn’t?—then you probably already know the story of the Trojan War from Greek Mythology.

After a fruitless ten-year war against the city of Troy, the Greeks came up with a unique strategy. They constructed this massive structure. It looked like a horse, and it was hollow. Inside that hollow horse they hid an elite force of their best fighters. Think Seal Team Six inside this massive wooden horse.

They left it outside the gates of Troy, and the rest of the Greek army sailed off toward the horizon. Their enemies watched those boats go and believed that the fighting was finally over.

They assumed that the giant wooden horse was an offering to their false god Athena. So they wheeled the giant beast inside the fortified walls of their city—the fortified walls that had kept them safe during that long war. They wheeled that giant horse in.

And then night fell, and the Greek special force of fighters climbed out of their hiding place. They unlocked the gates for the rest of the Greek army who had returned under the cover of darkness. Troy was destroyed. The war ended, and the Greeks won.

Now, archeologists have confirmed that the War of Troy really occurred. In fact, they found evidence of the city of Troy being burned to the ground, but most of them think the Trojan horse is a myth.

It sure is a good one. It grabs our imaginations. As we continue to think about our connections with each other, I want it to because, as we’re talking about loneliness and connection, I want us to think about a different kind of Trojan horse—one that so many of us have pulled inside the gates of our own lives.

Let’s think of a Trojan horse as something that we invite into our lives because we think it’s a gift, but, in time, it turns and attacks us.

Now, technology can be a Trojan horse.
Perfectionism can be a Trojan horse.

We’ve already talked about how. If we have a low tolerance for our own mess and the messes of others, that can keep us disconnected.

But the Trojan horse I want us to tackle together in this episode doesn’t look like a giant horse.

It looks like your job.
It looks like your church.
It looks like—and here’s where some toes are going to get stepped on—it looks like your kids’ sports schedule.
In the war to live connected lives, the Trojan horse that’s sitting outside the gates—or inside the gates in some cases—is busyness.

Here’s a snapshot of just how big this idol has become: 80% of Americans work the equivalent of a second workday after leaving the office. Guilty.

Add to that, 10-million Americans work more than sixty hours per week. We work more hours here in America than any other advanced country.

More than half of us sleep less than six hours per night, which means that 40-million Americans suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. We’re simply too busy to sleep.

And when we ask each other, “How are you?” We have two standard responses—right? “We’re tired.” And, “We’re busy.” And we’re telling the truth.

Does this describe our own life? Those statistics describe mine, if I’m honest.

How about some of these thoughts:

Are you desperate for quality time with the people that you love the most, and you don’t know how to get it?
Do you wake up exhausted and go to bed exhausted?
Do you have very little or no time in your life for rest and reflection?

Several years ago, during the season I’ve talked about in this series, when I was so deeply lonely, or, rather, when I became aware of how lonely I was, I was also chronically exhausted. Now, some of that was circumstantial—two young children (that will wear you out). But a lot of it was how I structured my time. No matter how often I went to bed early or how many naps I took, I was just worn out.

I was standing in my kitchen one day, and my eyeballs hurt, I was so tired. It occurred to me that my big problem wasn’t sleep deprivation. It was sacred deprivation. There were no parts in my day; there were no parts in my week; there were no parts in my month; there were no parts in my year that were set apart—sacred—that were untouchable to the demands of my everyday life. So I was tired.

One study found that 60% of Christians feel that our hectic schedules prevent us from spending time with God—60% of us feel that our schedules prevent us from spending time with God. That is the definition of sacred deprivation.

Just this morning as I was preparing to teach on this, a friend texted me. Here’s what she said:

“I’m really struggling. I’ve been doing so bad with giving God my time and focusing on Him. I want to be a godly woman. I want to crave the Word of God, but I just don’t even know how to get there.”

She didn’t know I was going to be teaching on this.

I love that she texted me. I love that she reached out for help. I love that she realized that the root problem was the way she was spending her time, or, rather, the way she wasn’t spending her time. She wasn’t spending time with Jesus. She isn’t spending time in His Word.

I said, “Be encouraged because the Spirit is working in you that you even realize that and want to turn.”

None of us would say this out loud, but the reality of our lives sends a message, and the message is this: “Lord, I’m just too busy for You.”

No wonder we feel disconnected. We need God’s help. We can’t do this on our own. We can never do it in our flesh to see our schedules and our work differently. So I’m going to pray for Him to do that.

Jesus, we love You. You created our lives. You created our responsibilities. You created time, and yet stand outside of it. Who else could show us a different way to manage our lives?

And so, as we open Your Word, Lord, I pray that You will give us eyes to see the truth of how we are to live. I pray that we wouldn’t veer into shame or guilt or condemnation or legalism, Lord, but that we would be liberated to live lives connected to You. It’s in Your name I pray, amen.

I’d love for you to turn in your Bibles to Proverbs 14:4, that book of wisdom. I, being a farm girl, love how much of that wisdom is agrarian, and this verse is an example.

Proverbs 14:4 says this: “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”

That might feel like a strange verse to us if we’re not farmers, but it gives us two contrasting images here. The first one is a barn without an ox.

Now, there’s this trend right now for weddings to be happening in barns, but barns are actually not for weddings. Barns are for livestock. So this first barn here might be a wedding venue. There’s no ox. It’s a clean barn. But, like I said, barns aren’t meant to be clean. They’re meant to be used.

And then there’s the second picture, the second barn. And in the second barn, there is an ox. And what’s the result of that barn with the oxen in it? “Abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” What’s the result of the second barn? Abundant crops. Usefulness. Fruitfulness. Productivity.

Work is good. We see way back in Genesis that work is not a product of the curse. Fruitless work is a product of the curse. And so, work is good. The Bible esteems hard work. Somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty times Scripture talks about the value of work. Work produces something—like that barn with the oxen in it. It’s not an equivalent to busyness. Work produces fruit of some kind.

Now, Scripture adds balance to our view of work, and it’s the kind of balance that we often don’t add to our approach to work.

Scripture mentions Sabbath rest close to 150 times. So work about thirty times; Sabbath rest about 150 times. It seems to me we have our wires crossed.

We cannot know and be known in the leftover slots of our calendar.
We cannot have deep intimacy in the midst of constant chaos.
We cannot produce or have God produce in us good fruit if we think busyness is the same thing as productivity.
We cannot nurture a relationship with God when there’s no time for Him.

So how do we fix what we’ve broken? Let’s look at what Jesus did—that’s always a good path to take.

One thing I notice in the Gospels is that Jesus spent a lot of time alone. Actually, what Jesus did was He spent a lot of time alone with the Father—not just alone—but alone with the Father.

One of the most pivotal moments in Jesus’ earthly ministry was what we call the “Feeding of the 5,000.” (If you read the text, it was actually a lot more people than that.) So, picture it: There are thousands of people there—thousands. And Jesus meets their needs. He gives them truth. And then the story has a weird ending.

Let me read us Matthew 14:22–23:

“Immediately (I think that word is compelling—immediately) he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.”

Try to imagine you’ve never heard about the feeding of the 5,000 before. Try to see it with fresh eyes. Picture what happened: Thousands of people come to Jesus. They witness with their own eyes and with their own taste buds this miracle. They eat miracle bread. They eat miracle fish. They hear Him say these really profound things. And then do you think they just packed up and headed home? No.

You know there were follow-up conversations.

There was probably, like, a line of folks who wanted their own tailor-made miracle. Right? They’d seen what He could do.

I’m sure there were people who wanted to pray with Jesus. I’m sure there were people who wanted Jesus to come to their homes. I’m sure that as a result of this there was a renewed burst of attention toward Jesus.

I don’t think that Jesus fed those crowds and then suddenly His schedule cleared up and that He suddenly had time to go feed His own Spirit.

The Bible says “immediately”—immediately. While the bread was still in their mouths, He dismissed the disciples. He dismissed the crowds. He walked away to be alone with the Father. And this is not an outlier. It was not a rare occurrence. It was the norm for Jesus.

Matthew 13:1: we find Jesus sitting alone by a lake.
Matthew 15:29: we see Him sitting alone on the side of a mountain.
Luke 22:41: He pulls away from the disciples to pray by Himself.

These are not the things we paint into our Christian art, maybe not even what we picture when we picture Jesus. We picture Him in the crowds. Right? We picture Him on the boat with the disciples. He did all of that, but a lot of times, at the pinnacle at the moment, He’d just walk away and be with the Father.

Luke 5:16, if I read it from the Christian Standard Version, says, “Yet he often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.” Often. Not rarely. Not sometimes. “He often withdrew to the deserted places.” This was a rhythm in Jesus’ life.

He did not wait for someone to give Him a permission slip, because no one was ever going to. He didn’t wait for someone to say, “Jesus, do You need a little quiet? Do You need a little time to pray?”

This also strikes me: He never apologized for it. Never. He never said, “I’m sorry, but I need to go.” Nope.

He never said, “I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed another miracle.” Nope.

He went to be with His Father—over and over. And His teaching infuriated the Pharisees, but I have a hunch this habit of Jesus’ infuriated His disciples, as it would have infuriated me if I was in the mix.

But Jesus, being fully God and fully man, made time to be alone with His Father. That is reason enough for us to do the same.

*****We’ve been in a series about loneliness, and so far, in this episode, we really haven’t talked about loneliness much. But here’s what I want you to know: It’s paradoxical to think that spending time alone with God can ease our loneliness. It’s mysterious. I don’t know how that works, but I know it does.

I know in my own life, when I feel lonely, I often don’t need to be around people more. I need to be with the Father more. I get confused about why my cup is empty. And it’s a good place to start—to be alone with the Lord.

This is just one way. We need re-programmed about how living connected lives really works. We need time alone with the Lord. We need to turn away from life’s constant demands—and they are constant. And we’ve got to walk toward peace.

I love the picture that David gives us of this in Psalm 131:2. David says this: “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

I know this because I’ve nursed four babies, and a baby who is still nursing does not snuggle in closely to his Mama because he wants to be fed. So he will wiggle, and he will cry, and he will whimper.

And David gives us a contrast to that. Inside his soul, he says, “I’m like a weaned child with its mother. I’m free to just nestle in and be with the Lord. I don’t have to ask Him for anything, though I can. I don’t have to feel worry that He’s not going to meet my need. I can just snuggle in to the Father like a weaned child with his mother.”

He quiets himself. He doesn’t wait for anyone else to quiet him. He heeds God’s command that’s so famous that we say it so often—it’s also in the book of Psalms—“Be still and know that I am God.”

God doesn’t say, “I will make you be still.” He says, “Be still”—like a weaned child with his Mama.

Here’s a question for you to think about—it’s not rhetorical. Give the real answer in your heart or out loud: When was the last time you were still?

This is basically how I operate: I wake up. I run, run, run, run, run, run, run. I sit down, and I fall asleep. (Sounds of laughter.) That’s most of my days. My husband knows, if he turns a movie on, it better be a movie he likes because I’m going to be asleep in about five minutes. And part of that is because I have a very full life and a lot going on, and part of that’s because I can go many 24-hour cycles without being still with the Lord.

If we are never still, or rarely still with God, we will live disconnected, and we will feel a soul loneliness.

Here’s something else Jesus did: He honored the Sabbath.

We first see that word “Sabbath” in Exodus 16:23. The Israelites had just been delivered from slavery, and as slaves, all day/every day was planned out for them. They didn’t have any say on how they spent their free time—there was no free time. They spent it making bricks.

And so the Lord emancipates them, and they’re living in the wilderness, and they have to learn how to live. So God gives them this Commandment, Exodus 16:23:

“This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” 

Sabbath is a God-given rhythm that we find woven throughout all of God’s Word. You probably already know it’s one of the Ten Commandments. Work, performance and achievement are not on that important list of instructions.

So can we assume that Sabbath, since it’s all throughout the Bible, since Jesus Himself observed it, since God, as He as teaching His people how to live, started with this, that it is of paramount importance to God?

In Leviticus 23, God was giving Moses instructions for the seven feasts of Israel. Again, God was giving the nation of Israel their calendar. And before He gives Moses the feasts, He commands, again, a rhythm of Sabbath. And the feasts, they observed them in the wilderness, but they took them into the Promised Land. And God is saying Sabbath is for the wilderness, and Sabbath is for the Promised Land, and Sabbath is for you, and Sabbath is for all of God’s people.

Here’s what it says in Leviticus 23:32:

“It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. (If you’re a write-in-your-Bible girl, you might circle “afflict.”) On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”

Afflict—this is not easy Sabbath. It requires self-denial. Again, that’s paradoxical, that rest could require self-denial. But it is because it requires us to acknowledge that, when we rest, the world keeps spinning without us.

And we will all have to fight a nearly constant gravitational pull from Sabbath. It is annoying to pull the brakes on our busyness. It is inconvenient. It will frustrate other people. And yet, the command of God’s Word, and the example of Jesus say: “Do it anyway.”

In the Old Testament, we find Sabbath mostly as a command. And it can feel like a rule when we read about it in the Old Testament—and it was. In the New Testament, Jesus shows us how life-giving this rule is.

In Mark 2, the Pharisees tried to condemn Jesus and His disciples for eating grain together on the Sabbath. If you know the story, they were walking along a grain field, popping the heads off of the grain and eating them on the Sabbath. And the Pharisees, who were on the hunt to find something to accuse Jesus of, accused Him of not observing the Sabbath. And Jesus’ response to them is a gold nugget when we think about the rhythms for our own lives.

Verse 27 says: “And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

Sabbath is a gift that we’ve left unwrapped. And Sabbath is not, according to Jesus’ example, a place for just shutting down and for shutting everyone else out.

The Old Testament Israelites observed the Sabbath together. It was a community choice. And Jesus, here, He takes a walk, and He eats with His disciples on the Sabbath.

So if we follow Jesus’ example, Sabbath is time set apart to rest. It’s time set apart to seek the Lord. And it’s margin—to connect with those you love.

We’ve been trained to think a different way. We’ve been trained to think that full schedules equal meaningful relationships with God and others.

And the Bible gives us an alternative: Stop. Pull away. Be with the Lord. Stop. Rest. Eat a good meal. Be together. Connect. And do that next week, and do that next week, and do that next week, and do that next week—until the Lord comes back.

So let me tell the story of the Trojan horse with an alternate ending: After a ten-year war, the Greeks retreat, and they leave in their place a giant wooden horse. And the Trojans have a moment of clarity. “This does not make sense.”

The jig is up. The small team of soldiers is easily exposed, and they’re defeated. Troy wins.

God is worthy of the very best of our time and energy—not the leftovers—because, let’s be honest, there are no leftovers. And our husbands, and our children, and our friends, they deserve a version of us that is not chronically stretched thin.

As I think of this area of my life, and I think about where I was when I wrote the book, “Connected,” I’m so grateful because there’s growth here. I’m not suffering from sacred deprivation. I do have rhythms with the Lord and with others. And I don’t feel lonely anymore.

We really can change. In fact, God really can change us. (That’s the only way we can change.) We don’t have to be exhausted and disconnected all the time.

So, as someone with only one life to live, you deserve to know that rich relationships with Jesus and rich relationships with people really are possible. You can re-write your own story, you know. You don’t have to keep pace with the rest of the world. You can spend time alone with the Lord today. You can ask Him to help you live without chronic sacred deprivation. You can put Sabbath on your calendar right now as you’re listening.

I wanted to wrap up this episode by reading David’s words from Psalm 46. They reorient me, and I hope they reorient you away from the allure of busyness. They push back against that Trojan horse.

If you’re listening, and you can, read along with me. I’m going to read Psalm 46:8 through 11:

“Come, behold the works of the Lord,

how he has brought desolations on the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;

he burns the chariots with fire.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Laura: That’s Erin Davis, reminding us of the number one thing we need when we’re tempted by loneliness—not to fill it with more stuff, not to fill it with more commitment, more busyness—but we need a relationship with God Himself.

If you’d like to know a little more about how to fight loneliness, then grab a copy of Erin’s book. It’s called, “Connected: Curing the pandemic of everyone feeling alone together.” And you can pick that up fromwww.ReviveOurHearts.com/TheDeepWell.

At this point in the episode, we like to break away and hear from Erin unscripted.

Erin, I know this isn’t prescriptive. I know you’re not going to give me a formula right now. But I would love to know what your personal time with Jesus looks like.

Erin: I’d love to tell you. It’s the best part of every day.

I’m an early riser by nature, but as I age, and as I have more and more demands on my life, I think that nature could easily shift into a not-so-early riser. But I protect it pretty fiercely because that is my time with the Lord.

So I get up quite a bit earlier than I need to get up for my responsibilities to my work and my family. And I turn on the tea kettle while I fold a load of laundry. And that little ritual of waiting for the water to boil while I fold a load of laundry wakes my brain up. And then, when the laundry is folded and the water is hot, I take a cup of tea to my living room, and I open my Bible.

I usually spend about 45 minutes to an hour there with the Lord just reading and thinking. I would say reading my Bible is the way I hear from the Lord the loudest. So most of that time is spent reading a passage, journaling through that passage, making notes in my Bible about that passage, and then I say a prayer, and my feet hit the floor, and I’m off to the races.

So that’s my daily rhythm. Then I set aside Fridays of every week to seek the Lord a little bit differently. I have just some kind of planned prayer times on Fridays and keep a running list of needs. And when people ask me to pray for them, I’m glad I can always say, “Yes. You’re on my Friday list.”

So I try to really scale back my Friday schedule. In fact, I just made some pretty significant changes to my Friday schedule in order to protect that time.

So this is all happening while raising my kids and while working. It’s not like I go away to a mountain cabin for all of these things—although that sounds nice! It’s happening in the midst of my life, but it’s planned, and it is scheduled, and it is set apart. It’s not negotiable, and I don’t think I can live without it.

Laura: That’s awesome! Keep going!

Erin: Thanks.

Laura: So, when it comes to your family schedule and your work and all the stuff, have you ever had to make some hard decisions about opting out of busyness for the sake of spending time with Jesus?

Erin: For sure. In fact, not only have I ever had to, but I’m always having to. I mean, we’ve all heard that “good is the enemy of best” and those kinds of things, and they’re true. So, we prune. My husband and I have pretty regular rhythms of saying, like, “It’s just all on the table. Let’s just put everything on the table—everything we’re doing. Let’s just talk about it all.” And “Is it all necessary?” A lot of times we’ll make some cuts there.

And, I’m a writer. I love to write. It’s one of my probably top three favorite things to do in life. And I could do a lot of free-lance writing, and I would really love to do free-lance writing, but I say no to most free-lance writing assignments for lots of reasons—to protect my time with the Lord and just to protect my time with my family and to have some rest rhythms in there, too.

And it stings every time because I love to write. I want to be writing. I’d rather be writing than doing almost anything else. And a lot of times people are offering to pay me to write. So it’s like. . .I hate to say no to that, but it’s necessary to fight the beast of busyness that always seems to be growling for my attention.

Laura: That’s good.

I personally find it so difficult to navigate through all the opportunities for my kids—invitations and just everything seems so good. And, like you just said, “good can be the enemy of the best.” Right?

Erin: Right.

Laura: I really long to grow in wisdom about this. How do you think we can?

Erin: Well, the way we grow in wisdom about anything. The Bible tells us, “If you lack wisdom, you can ask the Lord for it, and He’ll give it to you generously and without finding fault.” And so, right there, take a beat.

Have we ever asked the Lord for wisdom about what activities are kids are in? Or have we just done it and asked the Lord to bless it? Those are not the same thing.

And did we ask Him for wisdom once, and then we stop asking Him for wisdom?

So it takes that discernment, but it takes that connection with the Lord. It has to be an outflow of that.

But, Laura, you said something to me once that has really been formative for me. You said, “Home is so life-giving.” And it is. It is so life-giving.

And it’s just another way, I think, that we can be counter-cultural because I think there is a message that we pick up on that “activity is so life-giving.” And it often isn’t. There is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to our family’s activities, and we often don’t know that the returns have been diminishing until we’re already signed up for 82 things. Right?

So I think it just takes a lot of evaluation and humility and a willingness to disappoint people. But it’s worth it to have a life-giving home.

Laura: Yes. It sure is.

You’re making me think of the passage of Scripture that says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

I think we have to do that in regard to our schedules. I mean, the pattern of this world is “sign them up. They should be in a sport, in a music lesson, in an art lesson. They should be learning about politics and going to camp, and doing all the things.” And we honestly cannot sustain that,

Erin: There’s some balance. I would say, my oldest son really loves basketball. And I have been pretty resistant for a couple of years to that just because of the ways it has impacted my schedule. And my husband at one point was, like, “Erin, this is really important to him. And this is a way that we love him by supporting him in this.”

So I would not swing it so far as to say that you never have any activities because one way I am being connected to my boy right now is by being there in those bleachers and cheering my heart out for something that he really loves—even though I’d rather be at home.

So it’s not a hard and fast rule of no activity. We could be legalistic about it, I think.

Laura: Oh, yes. So easily. Right? But that’s where the “being transformed” by the Lord and His Word is so helpful because He then gives us the grace and the help to think about those things.

And I do find, in marriage, it’s so helpful to have that unity because there will be times, too, when I’m ready to just plow ahead and sign up, or I’m kind of skittish and not wanting to move ahead, and Ryan might have a different perspective.

Erin: Right.

Laura: One of the things that some older friends of ours told us in regard to making decisions, especially about, your calendar or your finances in marriage—hopefully this seems related to this series we’re doing here—but one of the things they told us was to seek unity.

So you might not be able to have all of your decisions laid out, you might not know every little “I” dotted and “T” crossed, but: Are you unified in anything? Take a step there, and then take the next step.

Erin: I love that

Laura: So that helps with our schedule.

Erin: It does help.

Laura: Sometimes Ryan will say, “Well, if you’re going to sign up—say, like, to lead a Bible study at church. I’m always gunning to do that.

Erin: Sure. Me, too.

Laura: “I know I have six kids, and I’m homeschooling, and can hardly get out the door, but sign me up! I’m your girl.” He’ll say, “Oh, Sweetie, I really want you to be able to do that. Why don’t you say, like, ‘Look, I can commit for the first two weeks, and then I need to evaluate it, if it’s really working for us or not.’” Because sometimes you really don’t know until you get the thing rolling.

Erin: That’s so wise.

Laura: You want to be able to say upfront, like, “I’m just so human, and I’m going to respect these boundaries that I have and my limitations and weaknesses, so count on me for Week 1, and then we’ll evaluate.”

Erin: I love that.

Laura: Another expression that I just love and think about a lot—sometimes I’ll actually write it on a Post-It note or something and put it up because I need to bring it to remembrance—is: The people around us won’t necessarily remember all we’ve done or all we’ve given them or even all we’ve said. But they’ll remember how we made them feel.

And when we’re busy, no matter what we say or what we hand over to someone or what we do for somebody, I think sometimes we can miss that important aspect of loving the person.

So, taking the time and kind of making margin in your life, trusting the Lord with our time, I think, like, “Wow! That would really help for someone to feel treasured.”

Erin: It’s for sure

A little low verbal cue that I listen for is when several people in a row in a short verse of time will say to me, “I know you’re busy, but. . .” And I’m, like, “Uh-oh.”

We’ve either got a reality problem or a perception of reality problem here because I would much rather them feel like, “Erin is available to me.” And instead, they feel apologetic for even approaching me with something, and I’ve mis-stepped there somewhere along the way.

Laura: I have another question for you: I would love to know what your ideal Sabbath day looks like.

Erin: Oooo….well, I’d sleep in. I’m tired. Some extra sleep would be so nice.

And then, I’m also a foodie. So I would have a really yummy breakfast. My husband and kids would be there, but miraculously, there wouldn’t be dishes. I don’t know how that works, but. . .because if there are dishes in the sink, that’s going to bug me.

And then, I would just love us to watch some old movies and lay around—be sleepy, be bumps on a log.

That’s it.

Laura: You wouldn’t go to church?

Erin: Well, yes, we’ll go to church. I knew as I was saying this was not going well. (Sounds of laughter.)

Laura: Like, “What am I forgetting?”

Erin: Okay, my ideal Sabbath. . .let’s start over. I need to say something about the Lord probably.

Laura: I love that honesty, though, Erin, because I think the Lord. . .

Erin: Church is not restorative for me.

Laura: It restores our soul.

Erin: Yes, let’s just talk about it. . .I’m not going to give a fake answer.

I don’t know, you might be listening, and you might be thinking, “What about church?” Like Laura’s thinking, “What about church?”

I love going to church, and I’m so grateful that’s part of the rhythm of my life. But if it is the perfect Sabbath, it is a day of rest with the people that I love, and the Lord’s there. He’s with me in it.

Laura: What does your typical Sabbath Day look like?

Erin: Well, we’re in Covid-19 still, so there’s the pandemic version. I’ll give you that version, and then I’ll give the non-pandemic version.

So we’re doing home church with two other families right now. So we get up and head over to our friends’ house, and we actually meet in their barn, and we stream services from our church there. And it’s really sweet. I love it a lot.

Sometimes somebody will bring a pan of blueberry muffins or sometimes somebody will whip up a batch of biscuits and gravy. A lot of times our kids are still in their footie pajamas. I just love it!

So we’ll watch church. We’ll sing the songs together. We watch the service together. A lot of times we’ll linger there for a long time, talking about what we just heard and what’s going on in our lives.

And then we mosey home…right now. And we eat our lunch at home. And I’ve still got some nappers, so they nap on Sunday afternoon. And, honestly, I usually work a little bit on Sunday afternoon. I try to meal prep on Sundays so that the rest of my week is smooth. And then that’s the day, for the most part.

Now, in the non-Covid world, we go to church with that same group of friends, but then there’s more of us. Then we try to go out to lunch with people from our church afterwards, and then we come home and do the napping and the meal prepping and all of that.

Laura: I think one way we have not changed much from the olden days when they would be preparing for the Sabbath Day a whole day ahead of time, I always think about the Jewish women scurrying around and getting things ready before sundown on the Sabbath Day—like in “The Fiddler on the Roof.”

Erin: They were probably totally exhausted by the time Sabbath came around because they worked double-time on the day before.

Laura: They were ready to put their feet up.

Erin: Yes.

Laura: I do think that I need to take the Sabbath Day more seriously on the other six days of the week and remember that it’s coming. When the Lord said, “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy,” I don’t think He means on Sunday. I think He means, like, “Every day of the week, remember—it’s coming—and to set it apart and to rest with Me and to make that a special day of seeking restoration.”

Erin: Right.

Laura: But in our modern world, I find that it just sneaks up on me over and over again. So after this episode, it’s really on my radar to go back and even look at the actual physical calendar hanging on my refrigerator and see if maybe I can even make a note to myself—plan ahead for Sunday.

Erin: Yes. Me, too!

Laura: We’ll plan to have a beautiful day.

Erin: Honestly, as I was preparing to teach this series, I was, like, “Oh, that’s an area I’ve really let slide.”

Several years ago I did exactly that. Sabbath was blocked on my calendar. It was no compromise. I don’t know when I stopped making that mark on my calendar, but at some point I did.

It’s on my heart, too. It’s important, and it won’t happen by accident. It’s important to the Lord. It’s a gift for me, and I want to take steps back toward it.

Laura: Yes. I want to cycle back around to how this does to our loneliness. So, to wrap up this session, can you just bring us back around, thinking about how this is sacred, how this seeking the Lord gets to that ache of loneliness like nothing else can?

Erin: Well, loneliness is just that—it’s an ache. And I don’t know if this is true of everybody’s hearts and lives, but it’s certainly true of me. I’ll get a gnawing ache in my heart, and I don’t even know what it is. I can’t even name it. I’m just off. I’m just hurting. I just don’t feel right.

So I might name it loneliness—and it might be. Or I might name it stress. Or I might name it frustration. But it’s not. It’s different. It’s an ache for the Lord to fill me back up. You know that idea that He fills our cups to overflowing. Only He can do that.

Everything else. . .the world is always draining our cups. Only the Lord can fill our cups. And He’s so good, that you could just keep coming back to Him, keep coming back to Him, keep coming back to Him, keep coming back to Him. He really is a deep well.

So He satisfies the ache. And that’s why this is the antidote to loneliness. It’s because it is the Lord who soothes our aches.

Laura: Yes. You bring to mind a verse from Isaiah 12, verse 3, where it says, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

I think that’s what you’ve been getting at this whole time.

Erin: Right.

Laura: Our relationship with Jesus is a deep well, and He is there for us to draw joy from over and over again—not just on the day of our salvation when we make our confession of faith in Him, but every single day to be coming back to Him.

Erin: Yes. The farm we live on has a deep well—a literal deep well—and the water is so good out of that well. I kind of hate to leave home because I have to drink icky hotel water or whatever. But the first time I drank water from that well, I was, like, “This is the best water I’ve ever tasted in my life!” And I still feel that way.

But I would have just drank from it once. I drink from it every day. I keep drinking from it. I keep needing, and the more I drink from it, the thirstier I am for it. And that’s the picture that Scripture is giving us of God: Drink from the well, and keep drinking from it.

Laura: That’s so good.

--(Re-do)--

Laura: So, Erin, I want you to picture the ideal restful day, when you’re really just resting in the Lord, resting in His salvation. And you don’t have to over-spiritualize it, but, really, what comes to mind? What does that look like for you?

Erin: Well, I want to be with my people, which is my husband and my kids. And I’d love to sleep in a little bit. My body is tired.

And I’d love to eat good food, but not have to cook it and not have to do the dishes and not have the dishes sit in the sink because that bothers me.

And then, I just would like to lay on the couches and watch old movies, or new movies—good movies—that are entertaining enough to make my eyelids not so heavy that I want to fall asleep in a minute.

I love it when me and my kids are just one big pile of bodies and blankets on the couch, we’re just laying there and enjoying what we’re doing.

And that’s it. It’s that simple. Rest and my people and good food.

Laura: Great picture. Thanks for your honesty. I love that.

Erin: Thanks.

--(Re-do)—

Laura: I take a lesson from the Jewish women of days gone by—or maybe even today. Honestly, when they’re working so hard to prepare for their Sabbath Day. They’ve got to get all the food baked and all the things ready because when the sun goes down on Sabbath Day, it’s Sabbath Day. Right?

And here we are on this side of redemptive history, and I try to learn what Jesus means about keeping that Sabbath day holy. And what He really wants when He wants to restore my soul and bring me to Him.

So I find that I, too, need to make it a priority on all the days of the week. And I need to look forward to it. And I need to sometimes work hard to make sure it happens. Do you ever find that?

Erin: For sure. The cycle of the weeks happen so quickly. And, it’s like, “Oh, we’re back to the weekend again!” Or, “We’re back to Monday again.” Or we’re back to whatever. And it’s like everything—if I don’t prepare for it, the tyranny of the urgent is a real force in all of our lives, and it is tyrannical. So, yes. I need to prepare for it.

And it’s the same thing for me. . .God is so kind. He gives such practical instructions so often. To the Israelites, when God gave them this command for this thing called Sabbath, He told them to prepare their food in advance and to get their work done before. That’s, like, “Oh, that’s so smart!” Lightbulb on in the brain!

Can’t I make a double-batch of lasagna and put one in the freezer? Can’t I make extra Sloppy Joes on Tuesday to prepare me for later? Is that keeping with what God intended? Well, it keeps with how God instructed us to observe it.

So I think it is wise to prepare. And if you think it is just going to happen, that these pockets of sacred rest are going to drop into your lap, they aren’t. So we fight for them, and we prepare for them.

Laura: That’s great.

--Laura doing different endings--

  • Are you ever tempted to approach relationships as if they’re a bank account? You know, like, you make a deposit, but you definitely expect to get something in return. Erin will address that question on her next episode. You’ll get some practical advice on how to deal with difficult people when we come back here on “The Deep Well.”
  • Remember: God’s Word is a deep well. You can lower your bucket and pull up truth every time. “The Deep Well” is a production of Revive Our Hearts, calling women to freedom, fullness and fruitfulness in Christ.
  • When someone needs you, how do you respond? Here’s Erin Davis.
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About the Teacher

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

About the Guest

Laura Booz

Laura Booz

Laura Booz is the author of Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God's Good Gifts in Motherhood and the host of the Expect Something Beautiful podcast with Revive Our Hearts. She'll cheer you on, share practical ideas, and point out the beautiful ways God is working in your life. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ryan, and their six children. Meet her at LauraBooz.com.