We can do everything for God or we can do nothing for God, but He is still with us (2 Timothy 2:11-13). He loves us, and his love is not dependent on how good we are or how right we are at the moment. We could be crossing all our t's and dotting our i's or we could be living a life set apart from Him, and He loves us. We can walk away, He follows. He is truly our Pursuer. However, he is a gentlemanly pursuer. He doesn't crash our parties. He won't reign down a forcible nature to make us do what He wants. He pursues with whispers and He waits.
He waits to pour out His love on us.
What does that mean, anyway? Life sometimes feels awfully lonely. We can feel very alone or distraught and with no hope. Whether we feel as though we have been abandoned by God, or we have never invited Him in to be our Savior and Lord, or we serve Him every day and try to follow all the rules, the words, "God's love" can still be shrouded in mystery.
Many, including myself, have worked our whole lives to make our way. Thoughts of stopping for Christ and devoting time to being formed in Him, becoming more like Him, learning about Him, praying to Him, all sound like good things. So, maybe tomorrow I will have time for this work of spiritual formation, but today "I" have a to do list that I will never finish. It wouldn't be wise to stop what I am doing to devote more than a quiet still moment to God. And then I find myself wondering, "Where is God" anyway? My busyness has led me to be drained of energy, joy and love for others. He was there. I just wasn't listening because I needed to be still and I wasn't.
God has brought me in the last 5 years or so into a new place of thinking in regards to making time for Him. I think that the first time I really thought about this in any depth was when I read George Muller's autobiography, or maybe an article about him. He referred to having so much on his list to do that day that he must devote an extra hour to his prayer time.
More time devoted to prayer because the day was extra busy with tasks? What a quizzical statement! I was really busy. I had a lot to accomplish! So it was my prayer and Bible study time in the morning that was getting squeezed out.
Yet Muller's words have stuck with me. I have prayed to have a heart for God — that I would see that I needed time with Him in order to face the busy day ahead.
There is a verse in Proverbs — I don't remember the exact wording — that speaks to the busyness of humankind and how we basically run in circles. I think of a hamster running around inside his wheel. I need to step away from the wheel. It is not that working hard, or schooling hard, or mommying hard are bad things. They aren't. I have not been called to life in the desert where I have all day to contemplate the greatness of God. I have been called to live within this beautiful life of mine, yet see God and honor His presence in each moment ... with my heart, not just with my actions or voice.
During the Growing Deeper Spiritually Residency (Lipscomb University) last week, someone referred to the phrase, "functional atheist." I heard those words and they hurt a little. I claim to be a follower of Christ, but am I functioning as one? Or do I say the words and function apart from Him. Do I believe what Christ says and do I live it?
These were questions that I asked myself throughout the week. When I look at the example of Christ, I have to ask myself an important question. Jesus walked away from busyness for quiet time with God — to be filled and to be tuned by the Father — so do I do that? Or maybe do I push through the busyness on my own? Do I let someone else's feelings or thoughts towards me affect me or do I rest in the fact that I am God's beloved? Do I live a life that overflows with God's love towards others because I have stopped and been with Him or do I just walk by those people that require more patience than I have to give?
These are hard questions for me. At this point in my life, thanks be to God, I don't wrestle with many of the sins that were struggles to me in my younger days. I wrestle with the fact that I might just be putting on a smiley face and pushing through it. I wrestle with living in the overflow of God's love.
If it is left up to me and my heart and my strength and my love, I will always fail to really love the unlovable, the irritating, ... Sure, I might be able to put on a smile and say, "God bless you!" Yet do I love them with God's unfailing love? No, probably not.
But when I stop running in circles and take time to give God adoration and glory each day — desire to know Him, rest in His love, live a life of contemplation of where He is and what He is doing — then I am able to do better with accepting the difficult others because it is His love, not mine, that pours out. When I can rest in being God's beloved, I can share that "belovedness" with others.
Yet there are those unspoken questions.
- Do I really trust God?
- Do I believe that if I devote time to Him it will be worth the time spent?
- Am I afraid that if I stop and listen I won't like what He says?
- Am I afraid that if I stop and listen He won't say anything?
The Father tells us in His own words, "Be still and know I am God" (Psalm 46:10). But many of us wonder just what that means.
Do I just sit in my Barcalounger and close my eyes and wait for God to talk?
Do I sit cross-legged style and push some of my fingers together and make a humming noise?
We often associate stillness and contemplation with Eastern religions or something identified as New Age. Yet all truth originates with God. All good things are His. We can't let our fear of turning into "New Agers," Eastern Mystics, or modern monastics keep us from basking in the silence with the One who loves us most. The Father has great things to say. Sometimes He might nudge us to make some tweaks in our lives, but most of the time He will just whisper that we are His beloved. We can rest in His love. When we do, it starts flowing out of us to others.
I can't highly enough recommend the book Soul Feast (http://hlt.me/qLHpeE), by Marjorie Thompson. Her wonderful writing helps those of us who want to stop the busyness and set apart some time for God know how to do just that. God's transformation happens in silence and solitude, according to Henri Nouwen. If we are too conformed to busyness, then silence and solitude might forever escape us and we will be the less for it.
The mystery of God's love will show itself in abundance if we will only be still and focus on Him — if we will quit focusing solely on ourselves and our to do lists and open ourselves to the Father. We will hear Him in the whispers, like Elijah (1 Kings 19:11)!
Be still ...
and know ...
that I am God!
Or as Jesus showed us:
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there (Mark 1:35).
Tammy is part of The Coffee Group, a varied group of women who express their love, faith, and praise for God with ladies they love. They do ladies' retreats and special speaking on God's work in their lives, as well as the importance of sharing your faith story.
Check out their website: