I did everything right; lined my Bible on the floor right next to the window, got my music and headphones, cleared the carpet facing the sun, ready to pursue worshiping my God…
I play worship, start singing, lift my hands in the stillness of a quiet house as if luring Him to come.
Still, why is it that even with God, we can encounter him in a way that works how we want, then manufacture it, repeating it over and over, as if formula’s will appease Him or bring Him out of hiding?
Like Moses on the mountain, no thunder and strong winds were coming. I was too busy for His still, small voice. And I just wanted Him to “fill me” so I could go about my day.
Then in the middle of my preparations, I feel Him say,”Turn it off”. Like a parent, me the teenager with my music blaring trying to get attention.
“What?” My Spirit shouts. “But I am worshiping YOU”, I justify…
As if God needs my serenading Him before He’ll enter the room.
I obey. But not because I feel like it. Or want to.
I put the music down, don’t open up my Bible, don’t lift my hands in worship. Like a bratty, preoccupied child, just waiting to finish my timeout.
I sit there. Simply because I was told to.
Then, in the quiet moments, vacant. My Spirit echos hollow, the chambers of my heart cry, feeling fully tangibly human….I look up from my void and He serenades me with conversation, with warnings, and encouragement.
And why is it we fill our days with business, crowd out His voice, fail to ascend the mountain of His goodness because we have a calendar, an agenda….because we try to fit God into our empty spaces instead of letting our empty spaces be consumed by a fully-alive God?
The quiet grips me. My mind races with the unsettling. I want to hurry God along, fit Him into my schedule, I want to check off “time with Him”, before our little one wakes.
But what I didn’t comprehend was that it was I who had been sleeping. And sometimes we don’t even realize we are sleeping until we are fully awake.
I feel His Spirit breezing past. The weight of His glory like Moses fully dependent in the desert. His presence thick. .My needs becoming small while time stands still and He ministers to my thirsty heart.
It is there, He talks. Talks of things that are and was, and is to come. He dresses me with His promises, and awakes my sleeping spirit, previously entangled with preoccupations.
He shares not with a some rushed commanding, or pat on the head like a passing Father, simply acknowledging His children. But He strolls by, comforts, with the familiarity of a friend, the tenderness of a husband, the gentleness of a companion who has known me from my childhood.
I drink it up now seeing my thirst, like a Martha who had deceivingly thought she was Mary, like the woman at the well who had not cared or known she was separate or lonely from The One who adored her fully.
And it is there His Shepherd-voice reminds me, “It is not enough to go through the motions, encounter me without hearing from me.”
“My. Sheep. Hear. My. Voice.”
Him lovingly reminding me of all the times I had heard Him in the past. Reminding me of how I had unknowingly drenched His voice with all my business and chatter. Demanding Him to dance. Just because I had ten minutes to spare.
Too often we talk about hearing the voice of God in the church. Some struggle with the times and places, some even think that God got lost and just can’t find them…
But scripture tells us, “Those who are mine hear my voice.” (John 10:27) And, “For God does speak, now in one way, now in another, though man may not perceive it”. Other translations say, “Though no one notices”, or “man doesn’t pay attention”. (Job 33:14)
Do we fail to hear Him because we are too busy? To loud? Too determined to encounter God like we want or think we can?
And I wonder in a day of all our accomplishments, or platforms, performances, awards, and achievements…if we forget somewhere along the way that all is nothing if we fail to hear our Shepherd speak?
Lately, I had not realized that I had been forcing my “alone time”. I had been pressing God to speak, instead of waiting with my cup open, anticipating Him to fill it.
I had been cramming in devotions, (because that’s what good Christian’s do, right?) Instead of Him taking my hand and letting Him speak in the wondrous quiet.
And I wonder…
- Do we think God might not respond…so we don’t wait? Don’t listen?
- Do we think He will be mean or harsh?
- Do we fear Him calling us out, or pointing to our sins? Do we feed off our restlessness instead of letting Him take it?
- Do we think God delights in us always asking and pleading, while He get’s no voice into any of this relationship?
- Do we fear He is greater…so we shrink Him small or put Him in a box?
- Do we not want to relinquish control…so we dominate the conversation and only let Him speak when it is what encouraging or pleasant?
But what if we just stopped, stayed silent, and simply asked our God to speak to us? What if we put down our phones, set aside and carved out time alone to still ourselves and listen? How might our lives change?
- What if we did this day after day?
- What if we confessed? Repented and obeyed everything He impresses upon on us every time He spoke?
- What if we stopped making formulas out of our time with God?
- What if sat like the revivalist of old, there in His presence until He showed up and met us in that moment?
- What if we charted out time alone with Him…daily, moments out of every day to wait in His presence and listen to what He is saying?
Friends, I confess I have been racing lately. Even making my quiet times, something I dictate instead of being a vulnerable sheep.
And I wonder, will you join me as I return to the practice of taking time every day, not to talk or do, read, or listen, or even speak to the God who desperately wants relationship with us…
But to simply get small, silent, quiet, waiting before Him…listening?
Because my guess is…Our Shepherd has something to say.
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