As I shared at the end of last week’s post, we’ve got to take the time to listen to & learn about God’s heart. As believers, we have been adopted into God’s family as His children; no concern or desire is too small for God. This has struck on an even deeper level since I had my sons.
Though it can be unbelievably challenging, especially in the early days, there is no joy like having a child. It has really helped me to understand God’s heart for His children in a whole new way. I get so excited about every little thing my kids do. “Oh, my goodness! He stuck out his tongue! Wasn’t that amazing?” “Wow! He’s getting teeth!” “He smiled at me and grabbed my hair!” It’s amazing to think God rejoices over every little discovery and victory in our lives.
I also am amazed at how much I love my kids. So much love for someone who comes into this world, relatively helpless. As infants, babies don’t give us any particularly compelling reason to love them. Yes after my first son was born, I caught myself thinking, “Wow, is this how much my parents love me?” He didn’t do anything to earn or deserve my love, except that he’s my child.
So often we try to earn God’s love by our actions. Or we worry that we’ve lost God’s love when we struggle with sin, doubt, or unbelief. But God simply loves us because we’re His creations, His children. And He loves me (and you!) far more than I could ever love my son. THAT is unfathomable.
We not only to read His Word to learn about Him, but also pray & practice spiritual disciplines. I don’t really have time to go into this topic in depth, but I’ll say a few things.
One of the most important disciplines that can help us get to know God, besides Scripture-reading & prayer is silence & solitude. Ps. 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God”. The Hebrew word for “know” there means “to experience.” If we become still, we can create the space we need to really know God. There are so many things in this world that cry out for our attention, and it can become increasingly difficult to quiet them. We need to still the noise and the clamor and the chatter of our lives and just wait.
We know that even Jesus has short & long periods of silence, solitude, prayer & fasting. You can find little pockets of solitude in your day. Early in the morning when you first wake up. Sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Since having a baby, sometimes I just sit quietly and take deep breaths as I watch him play. Besides those little pieces, we need to create bigger spaces where we just sit in silence and allow God to work in our lives. We may not hear anything specifically. Actually, we can frustrate ourselves if we try to heard to hear, but our simple prayer can be that God would work into our hearts the knowledge of who He is and who we are in Him.
We don’t have any trouble meditating on things we are passionate about it. If you’re a big Harry Potter fan, did you have to remind yourself that a new movie just came out? Did you have to write yourself a reminder to see it, or put it on your to-do list? No, of course not! In fact, the thought of seeing it was likely consuming much of your thoughts in the days leading up.
Are we that passionate about God and knowing Him deeply? Are we like the church in Ephesus, who was serving God with all their hearts, but had lost a passion and a true love for the reason they were serving? Have we forgotten to take the time to rest in God’s presence, to not only learn to trust Him, but also to allow Him to know us deeply?
You will get to a point in your Christian walk, if you’re not there already, where your motivation for spending time with God is simply because you need it, because you notice the difference in your life when you don’t make the time to spend with Him, praying and reading His Word. Until you reach that point, it’s OK for your motivation to be obedience. Psalm 119:45 says “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” Knowing God’s Word and His principles brings freedom. “Quiet times” or “devotionals” don’t have to look like sitting in a chair & reading the Bible. It could mean taking a prayer hike and listening to the Bible on your iPod. It could mean blasting worship tunes & dancing in your living room. It could mean going to a nursing home & doing a Bible study with some of the residents. Feel free to be creative. Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Pathways, has some great suggestions.
Next week we will talk about the next step in learning to walk in freedom: spending time with freedom seekers.