The Rev. Linda Kaufman reflects on falling away from a practice of silence and prayer time with God and how taking it up again has made her fall in love with Jesus all over again:
I don’t really remember when I stopped having regular quiet time. Not that I stopped believing in or expecting to connect with God; I just stopped getting up early. I continued to preach and celebrate. I continued to hear that people liked my sermons. I just let the relationship slide a little. I took things for granted and only sat in quiet when I needed a word to preach, or had an occasional down time. Oh, and my reading changed also. Somehow over the years I got hooked on detective novels, particularly the works of Elizabeth George, and I loved the Jack Reacher thrillers. The depths of scripture and quiet reflection gave way to murder and mayhem, violence and sex. I was addicted to thrillers.
During this time I did a pretty good job, outside of church, of keeping my faith to myself. In church I preached Jesus; I told of the miracles I saw and experienced. But no one would ever have considered me an evangelist. At best, I was reluctant to share my faith. That was probably the nicest thing you could say about my lack of evangelism.
Two years ago something shifted. During summer 2011, I spent a couple of days with my friends Paul and Mariann Budde in Minneapolis. Mariann and I had gone to Virginia Theological Seminary in the 1980s and had kept up sporadically over the years. While I was there I was surprised to realize that Mariann was still having her quiet time. She was reading, praying, and working out every morning. I felt a little bad at what a slacker I had become, but not bad enough to change.
That summer something else amazing happened: Mariann was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., and she asked me to preach. Uh oh, I thought, I had better get back to a serious relationship with God. No more coasting. This was time for a big push.
My renewed love for Jesus is sloshing over onto my colleagues, my friends, and my work. Sometimes I am winsome and compelling, with offers of love and faith and joy. Other times I just blurt out, “I think I need to pray for you. I brought my oil. Can we pray?” And they love me no matter how awkward my attempts. Sometimes they even seek me out. And I pray for each of them and their families every morning. The odd thing is that all of this has made me bolder with all the people I meet doing my work. I share with folks how my love for God impels me to do this work. I have no idea whether this offends or invites, whether it is winsome or off-putting, but I do know this: My heart is full and I slosh love in lots of directions.
The song of my life has changed over the decades, but the content of my intention has not: God delights over us and dances over us with joy.
Read more about her “big push” here.