the gift of stillness

God is present everywhere and participates in all the circumstances of our lives. It is not necessary to shut down the rest of your life or retreat to a distant mountain top to be with him. Driving down the highway, in hospital waiting rooms, at dinner, greeting clients – God’s presence fills every moment of the day.

The experience we call “spiritual formation” is essentially nothing more nor less than learning to be sensitive to the divine presence. We can’t fix ourselves. We can’t find our own way. We certainly can’t control life’s twists and turns. But we can gradually learn to sense God’s presence with us in all things. His love. And his peace. But I confess to having a problem doing it.

As I’ve tried to figure out why I have the problem, at least this much is clear: I am more comfortable with noise than silence, activity than stillness, struggling than surrender, trying to be strong than admitting my weakness.

It was the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal who said, “All human miseries come from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” Could he possibly be right? Do we humans need more reflection than we permit ourselves? Time to take our thoughts and feelings seriously? The courage to bring them honestly before God to see what he may want us to learn? To be?

Last week I was forced to sit still in weather-bound traffic for a while. For Type-A personalities, that is nerve-jangling, finger-drumming time! I had a schedule. There were things to do. So . . . something told me to pray instead of churn. And I did – about a host of things. The time passed quickly. When I was able to get going on the road again, there was no haste or panic. Just gratitude for an unanticipated time for prayer. And a sense of peace about what lay ahead.

Maybe Pascal was right. And perhaps it would be wise to book a half day each month for silence before God. To use dead time in airports to be alone with God. To turn off the noise of a radio for the chance to hear God while driving to work. It would likely do wonders to focus our lives on being over doing. The meaning of life above its routines. The positives more than the negatives.

Perhaps you live at such a hurried pace that a half day or even a half hour of silence with God seems impractical. For today, put just five minutes of silence between appointments or work two five-minute periods of quiet into your morning.

At the end of the day, you may have discovered the meaning of this text from Scripture: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Reprinted from Rubel Shelly’s FAX of Life.

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