The alarm sings at 6am. I pull thick curtains back in the dark bedroom, shield sleepy eyes from swathes of sunlight cascading through cottage windows. Lift the hinge on the wooden door and walk into the vast length of quiet house toward the kitchen, where the tea kettle awaits the push of the lever.

Standing in front of a bank of windows as coils heat the water, I survey the garden graced with golden highlights and watch birds flit between branches, inserting myself into the rhythms of life God creates with each turn of the earth on its axis.

Alone in a beautiful place, desperation and desire surface when I am prone toward utility, to push and force production. I am waiting for God in the stillness, to do what I know I cannot do myself.

I desire God but when I am busy, I’m uncertain about what it is that he desires from me.

“When we cut ourselves off from awareness of our desire, we cut ourselves off from the very invitation of God into the intimacy we seek.” Ruth Haley Barton, Silence and Solitude

Returning to the warm cocoon of sheets with a steeping cup of tea, I open scriptures, read a chapter in a new book, highlight, meander in the land of Google on a search for definition; journal six pages of lined paper while intermittently staring out the window, attempting to make sense of new horizons of thought.

But creative inspiration plummets the minute I look at the clock, gasping in revelation. Lingering to listen for nearly three hours results in a mental halt and sitting in front of the computer blanketed by shame.

Still in pajamas, the cursor blinks on an empty page. Not one word has been written on the project I’m tucked away in the Cotswolds to write. I want to stay in the intimate presence of God but time ticks, pushing me to produce.

I am measuring success in word counts while God measures success in the unseen attentive heart that longs to wait on him first.

We discount time as wasted when it cannot be measured by what we produce. Equate time as utilitarian and quickly assess your worth as not enough and less than.

When the house is finally quiet, linger in prayer instead of cleaning up dirty dishes and the shaming voice of utility says you’re a failure at housekeeping.

Be quick to ponder the Truth and slow to respond to your inbox and shame attempts to convince you are irresponsible.

Read a book that inspires transformation and hear the accuser name you slack and lazy.

How many times have I felt the sting of failure that comes in declaring, “I’ve accomplished very little,” only to realize that reflection and contemplation are required work, not a waste, for the opus of creative imagination.

Our most important work is accomplished by enjoying the Creator, not checking off a list.

Dare to wait on God and pull back the curtain on what you fear the most – being known, found out and counted of little value — and find true belonging in the time marked as unproductive.

Success comes in discerning a still, small voice repeating, “I see you. I know you. I love you!” And then believing it.

We cannot fully rest until we are prepared to receive first.

Time for considering the ways of God is not time wasted but a seed of desire planted that will eventually bloom and bear fruit.

Download our free printable June calendar with daily prompts from Chapter 6 in Rhythms of Rest: Stop or Be Forced to Stop. Because when we forget God is in control of what he creates, a forced Sabbath is a reorientation so we’ll remember. 

And just in time for summer, download a copy of Rhythms of Rest on your Kindle for $1.25 in the US and £.96 in the UK. What a steal of a deal!