Updated: Oct 29, 2021
I'm not to compete anymore. I've made up my mind. I'm tired of trying, working, coping, striving, worrying. Yes, I need to be honest with you. I strive and worry at times. I've come to believe that work, strife, and worry are things I shove inside my soul when I feel blank inside without them.
It's not that blank space inside is bad or wrong or even completely empty. The most challenging thing about the blank space is that it's silent. Silence feels scary and unusual.
Let's face it, we don't get a lot of reinforcement from our culture- even religious culture sometimes - to be still. If you're like me, you're used to a certain noise level inside. There are a thousand and one handy reasons we can use to maintain our inner noisy status quo.
We have deadlines, projects, and ideas that beg for action. Children, spouses, and households invite our love and attention. Important missions with God can keep our feet moving regardless of what is spoken to us in God's silent space. How do we untangle ourselves from the noisy motion of movement that keeps us from trusting?
Indeed, we are called to do things beyond sitting in our prayer chair for hours each day. Most of us know our faith is activated by action, so what's so crucial about slowing down and listening to…nothing? What if that place where nothing lives turns out to be the place where EVERYTHING lives? For those that insist on "action" as your number one priority, ask yourself:
"Have your best actions at times failed you?"
"Are there repeating patterns in your life that keep you from accomplishing
things most important to you?"
"Do you at times sense personal potential slipping through your fingers
despite your best intentions?"
I was in a food addiction recovery group when I had a sponsor named Charlie. He was from Boston, so everyone called him "Chahlie" because he said "pahk da cahr" and other things people from Boston say. One time when I was stressed out talking to him on the phone, he told me," you jus gotta learn to be gentle wit yurself." I had never heard words like those before. "Easier said than done," I thought as I tried to take in such grace.
But is this not God's way with us? We've been forgiven; There's nothing to earn; He's done it all; He doesn't wag his finger at us when we blow it. No matter how bad we mess up, we even have direct access to "da trone room" (as Chahlie might say). God HIMSELF has specifically told us to cast our cares upon Him.
I Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you
Have you CAST your anxiety on Him? I mean, really CAST it! It's ok to not like your anxiety; it's a liar. It's not from God anyway. Go ahead, give it a good "cast" right now! For those who live in Christ, we have every right to use our voice to change things in our environment.
You shall decree a thing, and it will be established for you.
But what do we do when we've cast our anxiety on Him but still struggle? My first instinct in situations like this is to DO SOMETHING! First impulses lead me to do things like this:
Check my text messages
Tell with my wife
Send an email
Search for a new scripture verse that speaks to me
What if none of that was really the way of peace? What if actions like these only served to maintain the inner noise level we've become accustomed to? Here's my lesson:
"Don't Just do Something, Stand There."
My friend, Mike Donaldson, calls this "trusting deeper" instead of "working harder." Such trust does not engage in worry when a deadline seems to slip. This trust does not second guess your self-worth or the handiwork of God in your circumstances. This kind of trust is found in the silence. Trusting leads us to the "secret place" with God. When we learn to "stand there," we become still. For those willing to listen, there is much to be heard in the silence.
Be Still and Know that I am God
The path to going higher with Jesus involves going lower within ourselves. Most of us want peace, favor, purpose, and the love God has for us. But how are we doing about loving Him the way HE wants to be loved?
Long ago, a friend told me that "surrender is an action word." What she meant by that is when we truly surrender, our actions change. Our choices become different as a result of our deeper surrender. There's nothing wrong with occasionally having a couple of beers with friends, but have there been any issues coming of that practice for you? Have you felt a nudge from God to adjust your entertainment choices lately? Is there a relationship you know that is best to let go of? Is an unhealthy food pattern calling you? Any of the above need not be "Capital S Sinful," but for some of us, they can be the very things holding us back from God's highest and best for our lives.
We might not hear such things if our default setting of "doing something" overrides His beautiful silence. And we may not feel strong enough "to do the something" He's showing us to do when He leads us in the silent place. But it's good to remember that all things revealed from the secret place also carry God's solutions with them. Our place is simply to listen, trust and obey. He does all the rest.
As a teacher, I'm fighting the notion right now to rattle off the "to-do list" of fourteen things that we can all do to help ourselves engage in the secret place. In this instance, I'm choosing to be a son instead of a teacher. Let's leave the list for another time. Together we can trust deeper for God to be our teacher. Such are the blessings that come from welcoming the quiet place of trust He has for each of us.
If you'd like to share how God is speaking to you or continue this conversation, please reach out to me here at https://www.kingdomwinds.com/Jamie-Tougas