Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Difficulty of Being Still

by Danetta Kellar

The snowstorm could not stop my plans to get away. In fact, the promise of snow made me even more determined to pack my writing, books, and fuzzy pajamas and load up the four-wheel-drive. On the way out the door I grabbed my trusty hot water bottle. I was ready for solitude in a winter wonderland. An introvert’s dream come true.

Every January I take time off from the rest of life to get away with God. I have come to depend on this time of looking back and looking ahead, reflecting and planning. 

Time apart with God anchors my year and gives me clarity for the busy and unpredictable days to come. 

Like forecasted, the snow fell during the first night and I awoke to a world covered in startling whiteness. A fresh, new start. A covering of all that yesterday lay dirty and broken. Noise hushed by quiet drifts of millions of individually crafted crystals made of ice. God on display.

A perfect scenario in which to settle in and seek Him.

I sat down at the little kitchen table and began to read the Words of Life. Then I remembered I wanted coffee to make it all perfect. So I got up.

I made my coffee and tried a new creamer in it, sitting down again with my Bible. Yuck! The cream was too sweet. I got back up and poured it out. After all, this retreat needs to be absolutely perfect, right down to what I drink while I pray.

Sitting back down again, I took a deep breath and tried to remember what I had started reading. Wow, that snow sure makes the sun glare through the blinds! I got up again and adjusted the blinds. Four times. 

By now I was hungry, having skipped breakfast. I made some oatmeal.

About an hour after I started my time alone with God, I finally started my time alone with God.

Just talk to me. 

I could hear God’s voice in my heart. It didn't seem very spiritual or monk-like, but I began pacing around the room, pouring my thoughts out aloud to Him. I told Him what I was worried about, what I was confused about, what I was happy about, what was stopping me from being still. I laid out my questions for the year, and decisions I needed to make. I talked, and I talked, and I talked. 

Then, suddenly, like the last little floating flake of falling snow, the words ran out.

Now, that was not so hard, was it?

My soul was calm. My mind was still. I returned to the table and opened my Bible. Again. I began to revisit the promises God has given over the years. And my heart was filled with praise and worship. As I re-examined those promises, new truths I had not before seen became clear. The voice of God in my heart began to instruct me, fill me with hope, purpose.

There were things I had not thought of but He had.

There were people I had not come to pray for but He asked me to.

There were burdens I was carrying secretly that He gently exposed and took from me.

We cannot be still until we have poured our hearts out to the One who sees them more clearly than we do. This is our first step.

God is not annoyed by what you have to say. He is a Listener and a Counselor, a Helper and a Guide. He is a Comforter, a Planner, a Hope-Giver, and a Rescuer. He undertakes for us the tasks we cannot even see yet. 

Are you sad and distraught, wishing you had someone to talk to who knows you? Do you feel too tired to reach out to someone, to try to find someone who would just listen? 

Talk to God. He accepts you and loves you.

I once observed a conversation between a very old man and a little girl. The girl talked incessantly and jumped from topic to topic. The old man smiled gently and nodded. His facial expression showed delight and patience, adoration and kindness. He listened, and listened. The little girl laughed and talked, completely comfortable and accepted. 

How like our Father, I thought to myself. A gentle and patient listener, delighting in us as we bounce around, pouring out our hearts about what is important to us. What God is this, who listens to His children and cares for them so tenderly? He is our own Father, the One who loves us.

Past the noise of our cluttered minds and hearts, God is patiently waiting. He has much to say to us. 

God speaks to us like the quietly falling snow, covering our distress with calm. He speaks to us through His word, the Bible. Its pages are overflowing with hope, hope, encouragement, and instruction to guide our lives.

It is difficult to be still, to seek Him, to really listen. But it is a challenge worth accepting

Being still before God does not require sainthood or a weekend away. Begin with the simple discipline of stilling yourself for a few moments at the start of each day. The reward of finding Him will grow so dear that your determination to seek him longer will also grow. Before you know it you won’t be able to live without that precious time with the One who knows you so well.


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