Do you feel it? The pressing in of the year ahead? As we kick off 2020, let’s pause. Be fully present. Take it all in. The gift of life. The people God has given you to love. The work you GET to do. The dreams you GET to dream. For all that is hard in life today – there are endless things to be grateful for.
Choose to kick off this year in stillness.
There are so many ways we avoid silence, so many types of noise we choose to fill the gaping voids in our souls. Social media is just the obvious one. We keep music playing in the car or streaming through our headphones. We pack our schedules with all the good things we think we should be doing. We juggle committees and demanding jobs and try to keep up with an unrealistic number of friends—yet we feel isolated. We are often doing so much for God but barely meeting with Him. And we feel as if we are losing everywhere we look.
Amid all this busyness we’ve made it impossible to hear His voice saying, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
What is it that we’re running from? What keeps us from carving out space and time for the quiet we so desperately need?
Ready for it? Yes, we are busy and distracted and it is dang hard to sit still. But we are also afraid of facing ourselves and, in turn, facing God. We are afraid of being found out. We forget that He not only loves us but actually likes us too.
Yep, He sees all; He even knows every thought before we think it, the psalmist said. (Psalm 139:2) But somehow, unlike humans, He has grace for all.
Yet, just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we find ourselves naked and afraid in life so we choose to hide.
What are we afraid might be found out? Here are a few things I’ve seen, both in my own life and in the lives of those I know and love:
- The fear of being put to work. Sitting alone with God has a way of bringing action items to mind so we try hard to avoid letting these thoughts come to the surface of our consciousness. Need to forgive someone who wronged you? Reach out to the person you hurt? Make good on a commitment you’ve been neglecting? Sitting in the quiet with God will remind you of these things and a thousand more.
- The fear of being asked to change. Worse still, what if solitude reveals not just a specific action you need to take but rather a broader issue you need to address? The nightly numbing habit. The increasing tendency to yell at your kids. The pull of Facebook when you’re being paid to work. If we don’t carve out time when the Holy Spirit can help us assess the quality of our lives, then we won’t have to assess the quality of our lives. Easy peasy, right? Yeah. Not the best approach.
- The fear that you’re all alone in the world. Clearly this one hits closest to home. Why did I refuse to practice solitude during that eighteen-month span of doubt and disbelief? Because I was afraid that if I reached out to God, there would be nobody home to take my call. I hate that I didn’t close that distance sooner.
Quiet time isn’t so quiet, is it? Our heads actually get noisier when the noise all around us falls away. Behind every one of these fears is a lie: I cannot face God as I am. All we can see at first is the mess.
Here’s the truth: we are messed up, every one of us. Which is exactly why we need time with God alone, in the quiet, where we can hear His healing voice. We have a choice between chaos and quiet, between noise and solitude with God, between denial and healing.
So why is it dangerous to keep believing this lie? Because humans never stay in neutral. We are either moving toward something or moving away from something. The antidote to running from ourselves is running to the only One who helps us get over ourselves. The lie is that we will be shamed. The truth is that the God who is Creator and sovereign over the universe and the God who conquered sin and death is the same God who wants to be with you in your pain, shame, and other circumstances. “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” (Romans 2:4)
Lie: I’ll feel better if I stay distracted.
Truth: Only being with God will satisfy me.
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. (Psalm 84:10)
If I were to ask you to complete the sentence “When we draw near to God…,” what truth follows it? “He will draw near to us.”
The line is taken from James 4, from a passage cautioning believers against being overtaken by the ways of the world. The apostle wrote, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.””
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:4-7)
And then in summary he wrote, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” – James 4:8
When we humble ourselves before God, submitting fully to Him, regardless of what has kept us away—and regardless of what we were doing while we were away and for how long we allowed that chasm to grow—we find He was always there, waiting for us to come back.
This post is an excerpt from Jennie’s book, Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts. To read more, order your copy here!