Monday, September 5, 2011

Be Still...

Week 36

Psalm 46:10  He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

I have read that verse and sung the little devotional song that comes from it so many times in my life.  But, how often have I followed what that passage has said.  In this face-paced, busy society (Of which I am caught up in) I do not take the time to be still enough.  I even keep searching for God and His will in my most busy of times.  Now, I'm not saying He doesn't speak during my busy times, or that He does not guide me through my fast-paced life.  But, there is something to be said about "being still" and listening for God.

Scholars and Authors believe (Including Richard Foster; Celebration of Discipline, Henry Blackabay, Experiencing God, and James Bryan Smith; The Good and Beautiful God) that silence is an essential part of drawing closer to God.  In fact in I Kings 19, God came to Elijah in a whisper after Elijah looked for Him in many awesome wonders.  God coming to Elijah in a whisper has always intrigued me. 

So, why is it so difficult for me to listen for God in the midst of silence?  I don't know about you, but I'm addicted to noise.  I have to have something going all the time.  I get into my vehicle and have the radio already on.  I come into the house and turn on the TV or radio.  When I sleep I have a fan going (Not just because I am hot natured) in order to have "white noise".  Furthermore, my noise does not have to have volume.  I am continually checking email, checking websites, looking at Facebook, playing games on my phone, etc.  Sometimes I can see God at work amongst the noise, but do I really hear Him speak during those times?  Rarely.

So, here is my challenge to myself and to you.  Practice silence and listen.  This is difficult to do.  I have done it in the past and fallen away from it.  James Bryan Smith in The Good and Beautiful God gives some great pointers.  Here are some of them.

1.  Block out some time to have silence in your day.  Even if it is a couple of minutes.  Build up to five minutes, 10 minutes.  I know some simply turn off the radio in their cars going to work.  The challenge here is to listen and not be in prayer.

2.  As you spend your time in silence, journal.  At first, journal the noise that distracts you from your silence.  You will notice as you practice this that your distractive noises will decrease.

3.  Listen and pay attention to random thoughts.  Write these down if needed.  God may be speaking in these random thoughts.  Ask God/Jesus, "What do you want me to get out of these thoughts?"  The answer may not come to you right away; it may show itself days later.  In one of the men's groups I attend, we actually practice an exercise called "Tending to Jesus."  Simply, we pray for Jesus' guidance then spend time in silence listening for what may come up.  We pay attention to random thoughts.  After our time of silence, we share what came up for us.  We don't give advice or prophesy; we just speak what came to heart.  If what we have spoken sticks with a person in the group, we figure it came from Jesus and that person pays attention to where it shows up in his/her life.  I've been amazed at what God has done through this type of work.

4.  As eluded to in the above exercise, after a time of silence, pay attention over the next few days to what comes from your time of silence and what God put on your heart. 

There are other forms of silence that can be practiced as well.  The three books mentioned above are a good start.  I challenge each one of us to learn how to "Be Still" more often.

Study questions/challenges:

1.  Are you addicted to noise?

2.  Do you feel as if you are distant from God?

3.  Could it be your noise getting in the way?

4.  Are you willing to take the challenge this week to practice silence?

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