Over the years, I’ve realized that out of the various Spiritual Disciplines, there are few that I neglect as often as Silence and Solitude. Spending time, silent before the Lord, waiting to hear what He had to say rated secondary to “action”, as I perceived it.
Has this even been the case for you?
In reality, we all lead busy and harried lives filled with appointments, meetings, and task lists – excellent and valuable things that fill our day from morning to evening. As a culture, we’ve equated “busyness” with “productivity”, and if we’re harassed enough, it means that we’re “getting things done.” It’s interesting to think about the idea of “waiting” as an “action.”
A couple of the Gospels tell us the story of Mary and Martha.
It’s a familiar story, but the idea that Mary had the “right idea” by sitting, waiting, and listening to Christ should give us pause in our own lives. Are we listening to hear the voice of the Lord, or are we pushing forward with our agendas and letting the crowded rabble of the world fill our minds and steal our attention?
Over the last year, and most of this one as well, we’ve all become accustomed to things being “put on hold.” COVID has changed most of our lives immeasurably. For the extreme poor, COVID has created even more stress and thrown millions more into poverty. How do we take busy, stressful, and demanding situations and instead turn our hearts, minds, and attention to the Lord? How can we learn from these experiences and let them draw us closer to God rather than into our disappointment?
First, we can recognize God’s sovereign rule over our lives.
It’s essential that as we go from day to day, we don’t just serve God in theory but that we acknowledge that He runs every part of our lives. He is our King, and to faithfully serve Him, we need to know what His plans are. When we come to terms with this and accept it, it should create a desire to listen, wait, and learn.
Second, we need to come to terms with our dependence on the Lord.
For the most part, we go about our business with the idea that if we work hard enough or “put in the hours”, we can make our own success. This can create a “me” centric worldview wherein our efforts are what bring us happiness. Yet, we cannot lose sight of the fact that God is the provider and sustainer of our lives. Because of this, we should regularly come to Him, not just with our cares and concerns, but with an earnest desire to hear from Him.
Finally, we must realign our priorities to match up with God’s heart.
Thankfully, God has given us His Word so that we can know many of His expressed intentions. If we live with God’s plan as paramount in our lives, it creates a dependence on hearing from God, knowing His heart, and putting the most important things upfront. It’s been said that prayer isn’t about changing the mind of God but rather about changing ourselves to be in line with what He is already doing. For us to be able to do this, we need to quiet ourselves in order to listen.
As we strive to listen, learn, and reorient our attention, we must also prioritize the things that God has already told us are important.
Without needing to ask, we can know that God cares about the oppressed, the needy, and the lost. Focusing on these things isn’t about adding more to your already crowded itinerary but rather about asking yourself what you can let go of and how you can align yourself more with God’s expressed will. The poor need our help, and, more than that, they need to hear about the Love of Christ. Seek to know the Lord, listen to what He has to say, and look for ways to make His goals your goals.
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