Viking Views – Learning to Be Still
The beginning of a new year brings feelings out in me that I would compare with the feelings I experience in August at the start of every school year. Now it’s April, and I can say that I start the same cycle as summer approaches. I get this insane determination that I will finally be that mom…that wife…that Christian, that daughter, that friend and that health nut. And by that, I mean perfection. I will be so much more patient and consistent with my boys. I will become an outdoorsy mom this summer instead of a “Yes, you can play video games” mom. I will be joyful, confident and care free for my husband instead of making him analyze my fears and anxieties over and over with me. I will read my Bible every day, oh, and journal…not because I feel obligated, but because I will love it. I will invite friends to lunch…or even host a girl’s night. And in about six months from now you will be wondering if I am training for a fitness competition because of how healthy I am going to eat and how consistently I am going to exercise. No big deal, right? I can do all of this.
Except I can’t. And so this year, way back in January, I decided that I was going to focus on doing LESS. I’m not going to lie and say I am not trying to do some of the things that I mentioned previously. I want to eat less junk, spend less, complain less, and be less busy. Less busy…It’s easier said than done. I want to learn to be still and rest and really learn to appreciate all that God has already blessed me with. I want to HEAR HIM, and I want to OBEY HIM, and ultimately, I want to BE USED BY HIM.
I want to get into the habit of acting on those promptings that I get from the Holy Spirit. What if every time I felt that nudge to act, I did? I would finally invite that neighbor that I’ve waved to a few times over for dinner, pay for that person’s groceries, reach out to that friend that I know would love to hear from me, or write a note to encourage someone. These are all opportunities for me to be obedient and used by God. But I could miss all of this. I could hear the Holy Spirit and ignore him. I could keep myself busy and not allow my brain to actually reflect and listen and ultimately drown out His voice.
When I taught fifth grade we used to do this exercise with the students at Camp Gilead. We would ask them to make it to the other side of a roped off area by listening to the directions from their partner. Oh, and they were blindfolded. And as soon as they started taking steps forward things were thrown in their path. If they stepped on these things they were out of the game. They couldn’t see the things that were thrown in their path and they could barely hear the voice of their partner because all of the other partners were also shouting different directions to their partner. This was the game of life. The game showed the students that in life we are trying to get to the other side by listening to ONE voice. Things will be thrown at us that we never saw coming, but our job is to listen to that one voice that will get us safely to the other side. The other voices are screaming at me, “Be fearful! Compare yourself to others! Gossip with everyone else! Don’t forgive! Promote yourself above others!” They are loud. They are at times deafening, but when I am still and slow down, I can hear God’s voice. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” When I am not still, I fall into the habit of living and striving as if I am God. I’ve never seen a more clear illustration of how important it is to stop listening to every voice and listen to God’s voice.
A few years ago I was the recipient of someone else listening to and obeying God’s voice. My son was sick, and we didn’t know what was wrong with him. After many weeks without answers I started to lose hope. I remember praying one morning and asking God to encourage me; to let me know that he heard me. All day I waited. I looked deeply into the eyes of strangers hoping that they would say something from God. It sounds weird, but hopelessness brings out a desperation for God that seems weird to others. As the day came to an end I started to think that God didn’t hear me or even care about the fact that I was losing hope and faith in Him. And then I checked the mail. And there was a letter. A note from Dean Johnson. I hadn’t spoken to Dean about my son, but he had heard about what we were going through. Dean’s note said that he was praying for me as I was in deep waters. He reminded me that God is faithful to know my frailties and weaknesses, but also powerful enough to bring me through. He said that God’s strength should be my peace and that I should cling tightly to the one who loves me more than I know! This letter was my encouragement. It was my God clearly telling me that he hears me, sees me and loves me. I am so thankful for Dean’s obedience to the Holy Spirit. Dean had no idea that I had prayed that morning for God to show himself faithful to me. And what I really love about this is that it was a letter that came in the mail. God knew way before I did that I would need this letter from Dean on this day. His timing is perfect.
So, I encourage you to join me in learning to be still this year. Join me in listening for the Holy Spirit’s voice. Be used by Him in the lives of others. Make it a habit to immediately obey His voice. It’s uncomfortable and scary, but He is faithful!