August 17, 2011

Beloved

It really is in the whisper. If I could sum up my experience last week at Scarritt-Bennett in Nashville it would be that God is with us. Of course that is what Immanuel means, right? God is with us. We can do everything for God or we can do nothing for God, but He is with us. He loves us and his love is not dependent on how good we are or how right we are. We could be crossing all our t's and dotting our i's or we could be living a life set apart from Him, and He loves us. We can walk away, He follows. He is truly our Pursuer. But he is a gentleman Pursuer, He doesn't crash our parties, He wont reign down a forcible nature, He pursues with whispers and He waits.

He waits to pour out His love on us. What does that mean, anyway? Life sometimes feels awfully lonely, we might feel very alone or distraught and with no hope. Whether we feel as though we have been abandoned by God, or maybe we have never invited Him in to be our Savior and Lord in the first place, or maybe we serve Him every day and follow all the rules but still, the words, "God's love" can be a mystery.

Many, including myself, have worked our whole lives to make our way. Thoughts of stopping for Christ and devoting time to formation in Him, becoming more like Him, learning about Him, praying to Him, those all sound like good things, and maybe tomorrow I will have time for that, but today "I" have a to do list that I will never finish and it wouldn't be wise to stop what I am doing to devote more than a quiet still moment to God. And then I find myself wondering, "Where is God anyway"? My busyness has led me to be drained of energy, joy and love for others. He was there. I just wasn't listening because I needed to be still and I wasn't.

God has brought me in the last 5 years or so into a new place of thinking in regards to making time for Him. I think that the first time I really thought about this in any depth was when I read George Muller's autobiography, or maybe an article about him, and he referred to having so much on his list to do that day that he must devote an extra hour to his prayer time. That was a quizzical statement to me, because when I was really busy and had a lot to accomplish it was my prayer/Bible study time in the morning that was squeezed out. That portion of reading has stuck with me since. I have prayed to have a heart for God that would see that I needed time with Him in order to face the busy day ahead.

There is a verse in Proverbs that I don't remember the exact wording but it speaks to the busyness of humankind and how we basically run in circles. I think of a hamster running around inside his wheel. Step away from the wheel. It is not that working hard, or schooling hard, or mommying hard are bad things, they aren't. I have not been called to life in the desert where I have all day to contemplate the greatness of God. I have been called to live within this beautiful life of mine, but to see God and honor Him in each moment...with my heart, not just with my actions or voice.

During the Growing Deeper Spiritually Residency (Lipscomb University) last week, someone referred to the phrase, "functional athiest." I heard those words and they hurt a little. I claim to be a follower of Christ, but am I functioning as one? Or do I say the words and function apart from Him. Do I believe what Christ says and do I live it? These were questions that I asked myself throughout the week. When I look at the example of Christ who walked away from busyness for quiet time with God to be filled, do I do that? Or maybe do I push through it? Do I let someone else's feelings or thoughts towards me affect me, or do I rest in the fact that I am God's beloved? Do I live a life that overflows with God's love towards others because I have stopped and been with Him, or do I just walk by those people that require more patience than I have to give?

These are hard questions for me. At this point in my life, thanks be to God, I don't wrestle with many of the sins that were struggles to me in my younger days. I wrestle with the fact that I might just be putting on a smiley face and pushing through it. I wrestle with living in the overflow of God's love. If it is left up to me and my heart and my strength and my love, I will always fail to really love the unlovable, the irritating,... sure I might be able to put on a smile and say,"God bless you," but do I love them with God's unfailing love? No, probably not. But when I stop running in circles, give God adoration and glory each day, desire to know Him, rest in His love, live a life of contemplation of where He is and what He is doing, then I might be able to do better with that, because it would be His love, not mine, that pours out. When I can rest in being God's beloved, I can share that "belovedness" with others.

Do I really trust God? Do I believe that if I devote time to Him it will be worth the time spent? Am I afraid that if I stop and listen I wont like what He says? Or maybe am I afraid that if I stop and listen He wont say anything?

He tells us in His words, Be Still and Know I am God. Many of us in evangelical faiths might wonder just what that means. Does that mean I sit in my parka lounger and close my eyes and wait for God to talk? Does that mean I sit cross legged style and push some of my fingers together and make a humming noise? I think that because that is what we have seen in movies we immediately associate stillness and contemplation with Eastern religions. All truth originated with God. All good things are His. We can't let our fear of turning into new agers keep us from basking in the silence with the One who loves us most. He has great things to say, sometimes He might nudge us to make some tweaks in our lives, but most of the time He will just whisper that we are His beloved. We can rest in His love. When we do, it starts flowing out of us to others. I can't recommend the book Soul Feast, by Marjorie Thompson, enough. This wonderful writing helps those of us who want to stop the busyness and set apart some time for God know how to do just that.

God's transformation happens in silence and solitude, are the words of Henri Nouwen. If we are too conformed to busyness then silence and solitude might always escape us. We will be the less for it.

The mystery of God's love will show itself in abundance if we will only be still and focus on Him, and quit focusing solely on ourselves and our to do lists. We will hear Him in the whispers. You can find a beautiful story of Elijah hearing God in the whispers in 1 Kings 19:11.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful and inspiring post. It was the perfect timing for me to read your words. Makes me was to buy SoulFeast right this second. But alas, I am too busy and must go hop in the shower. Ironic, huh? Love you.

Jana B

Anonymous said...

Sorry. That should have read "want". I'm still a bit sleepy this morning.

Jana

ChristyCate said...

Thanks, my sweet friend! I needed this!

Phil said...

Hi Tammy. I am going to re-publish this in Heartlight.org this week. It also fits what our focus is on Sundays this month in our Time in the Word and the Heartlight article today: Just One!

Blessings and glad you got this special get away!

Phil