“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” ~Psalm 46:10
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” ~Psalm 27:14
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been formulating a blog post in my head. Then I saw that Rachel Olsen, a Proverbs 31 writer (www.rachelolsen.blogspot.com), was doing a devotional carnival today, allowing many of her readers to write a devotion on the topic of Pleasing God and to link to each other’s blogs to read them. I love this idea. So I thought I would join in and use the blog post I’ve been working on in my head as a jump-start into the carnival.
Perhaps you can relate to this scenario…you are talking on the phone to a friend that is very dear to your heart. She is pouring her heart out to you and at the end of the conversation, you are asked for some guidance, direction, or even some encouragement. She is expecting it. But before you can respond, just as you open your mouth, she states that she has to go and hangs up. You are left wanting desperately to share with her your own heart but are not given that opportunity.
Recently, God has shown me something about myself. I am that dear friend who hangs up prematurely. I am a great talker but not always a great listener. I always thought I was a great listener– as a former child and family therapist, listening is critical! But it would appear that in certain circumstances, I fail at listening. Circumstances such as my prayer life, for example.
This hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks last week as I was driving to a dentist appointment. I felt the need to turn off my radio and just have some quiet time with God. I began talking to God about how I was feeling, what was on my mind, and so forth. After a good fifteen minutes of talking to God, I decided to turn my radio back on. And I felt God admonish me. What had happened to the “quiet” time, of the give and take, of hearing what God had to say? I had engaged in a soliloquy, not a conversation. I was convicted at that moment by the Holy Spirit as I realized how very often I do this. There I was, asking God for direction on certain issues close to my heart, yet I wasn’t giving Him time to provide that direction. I turned the radio back off and apologized to God.
And then I realized how hard it is to “be still and know” (Psalm 46:10). Even after I felt convicted and turned the radio back off, I had to work hard to be still. Thoughts about my kids, my to-do list, and what I was going to make for dinner all began vying for attention and attempted to crowd out my focus on the Lord. A few days later, I found myself wrapping up a time of Bible reading and prayer much the same way. I crammed it into my schedule, felt pleased that I had done so, and was immediately convicted again. Once more, my lack of follow-through by not allowing time to simply enjoy being in His presence and hearing what He had to say rose up glaringly in front of me. This was not going to be easy.
So among the many, many ways we can please God, my current focus is on honoring Him by listening. By investing myself in the sacrifice of silence. By accepting the gift He offers of a relationship with Him. I feel so humbled when I stop and think that the God of the universe wants to fellowship with me, wants to speak to me! And then I feel so disgusted at my own arrogance when I realize that I am brushing off that same God by making the focus of quiet time about me rather than about Him. I pour out my heart, plead with Him for Him to reveal His will, and then I “hang up”. God wants a relationship with us, He wants us to approach Him on his throne and not only share what is on our hearts, but wait to hear what is on His. When we make such opportunities solely about us rather than about God, we not only insult God, we miss out on His wisdom, encouragement, guidance and peace.
Dear Father, please forgive me for not taking the time to invest in our relationship that I should. Forgive me for not putting my desire for a relationship with You above my own needs and desires in the moment. And please forgive me for making it about me. I pray that you will help me shift my focus onto pleasing You during our times together and help me to develop patience to not only “be still and know”, but to “Wait for the Lord…” (Psalm 27:14). Father, thank you that you allow me to spend time with you, and that you want to spend time with me. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.