This week I get the pleasure of attending a women’s development conference. I have been looking forward to this time of renewal and anticipated the hope of new friends and amazing fellowship for the last few months! During this time I was asked to read a couple of books (The Eternal Current” by Aaron Niequist and “Invitation to Silence and Solitude” by Ruth Haley Barton). I HIGHLY recommend them to anyone who is looking for a deeper and more intimate connection with the Lord!
Many of the practices in these books are a completely foreign idea to me! I mean, I know many of you know me well by now. Can you image me serenely sitting, taking deep breaths and focusing on quietly waiting to hear from God?! I am not one to be silent or in solitude or to sit still for that matter (have you ever had to sit through a meeting with me? It must be awful watching me squirm about!). Even the thought of practicing stillness makes me uncomfortable.
While focusing on being still and listening for God’s direction is just one small facet of these books, it has proven to be the most challenging for me. Upon my first try at sitting in silence I decided to try for 5 minutes of stillness. My inner dialogue went something like this “Breathe in, breath out, focus on not focusing, listen, what was that thing I needed from the store? Wait, NO focus, breath in. Oh hey a dust bunny, I need to clean under the chair!” I looked at the clock and a full minute had passed…
The next time I tried sitting in solitude (some might call it meditating) I decided to try and recite a phrase each time my mind started to wander. These phrases needed to be things that helped me to focus on my intentions and the spiritual journey I am on. I have tried many phrases over the last few weeks; I have even took a stab at lamenting, but the phrase that has seemed to stick around was one I came across on Facebook. “Be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” Except I have changed the words to these, “Lord make me fearless in pursuing fuel for my soul.” These words have proven very powerful indeed!
Sitting in silence is still proving to be extremely difficult for me to navigate. Some days I just find rest in the Lord. He knows the desires of my heart and does not need my words to feed them. Some days I feel raw and vulnerable, stripped down without words to cover my shortcomings. In these moments magic happens! I may never be a pro at practicing silence and solitude (that why it is called a “practice”). But I do know that God is working in my soul, setting it on fire with the passions he has given me to serve his people. I challenge you to try and sit in silence, focusing on how God is working in your life. How long did you last?