Thursday, September 25, 2014

Learn to Stop Running so we Can Listen

"I really need to take a break and get away."

"I'd just like a few moments of quiet, but I don't know if I can find it."

"I know it's important to take time to get quiet and listen to God, but I just don't know how to fit it into my day."

"I can't put my phone away for any amount of time. What if someone needs an immediate response form me?"

How often have you said those things? Or though them?

I've noticed that we like to talk about our need for rest from the daily demands of life. We can articulate the reasons why we need it. We can point to Scripture that says we should do it.

But our practice of it doesn't seem to line up with our talk. We don't do well at practicing what we talk about. I don't do well at practicing what I talk about sometimes.

I've been challenged in this area of my walk with God this summer (as many of my recent posts indicate). And as I've learned how to step into this more, I've realized just how much we miss when it's not a regular part of our lives.

It's only when we stop running and silence the noise of our lives that we can hear from God. In the midst of our fast-paced, noisy culture, doing so is difficult. We're conditioned to expect an instant response and to try to do multiple things at once. Putting off the response to that text or email until later and doing only one thing at a time takes practice for us to learn how to do it well.

The danger comes in never learning to do it well or even to do it at all. We try and it feels too hard, so we quit trying. Or, we try it and the interruptions keep coming, whether other people or our own thoughts, so we give up trying.

But, this is something we have to learn because it's counter-cultural. It will take time to learn, because it's counter-cultural. Instead of expecting to do it well the first time, we need to begin expecting we won't do it well, expecting to get distracted.

Then we'll begin to discover the value in taking the time. That's when we'll realize a desire for it. That's when it becomes a regular part of our lives and our actions will begin to match up with our talk.

We can't begin expecting it to be a lengthy time. That's not realistic when we're learning anything. We have to teach the muscles what to do and how to do it repeatedly. We build the strength and endurance slowly over time.

We have to start small when we begin to make it a regular part of our lives. And build it from there.

I've always looked up to people who could take days or a week or longer and spend it with God - having shut off the distractions and noise of the world. I wished it was something I could do. I wanted God to give me the ability to do it right away.

But in the last few years, I've discovered it's something developed over time. It starts with a small chunk of time and it grows as we practice it more. As we develop the muscles and endurance for it.

Where are you at with this?

Is it time to start the regular pattern of time to rest? To start small with lots of grace for yourself as you learn and develop the muscle?

Is it time to take the next step in this? To take more time and stretch yourself? All while still offering yourself grace as you grow?

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