“Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me-the very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.”
Isaiah 30:15 The Message
I did it! I accepted the invitation to retreat and pulled away from the front lines of life and ministry to have time with God. I packed up the car and drove to a peaceful setting just far enough from the familiar. After unloading and exploring the house I settled into a comfy chair with delight…I was ready! My eyes closed and I waited.
It didn’t take long to sense it…
In just a few short minutes it was apparent. Although I had taken the time to disengage from life and quiet the swirl around me, the reality was that there was so much chaos inside me!
During this time God brought portions of Isaiah 30 to my mind.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it”
The Message puts in this way:
“Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me – the very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.”
This was an “aha” moment! I had not realized how much churning was happening from deep within and how much it affected my ability to sense God’s presence and listen to His voice. I have been striving in all things…even striving to be in the presence of God.
If this kind of churning resonates with you, here are three things that can help you calm the chaos from within.
Integrate silence and solitude into your day. It is hard to be still, to quiet our heart and mind so that we can be aware of God’s presence, let alone sense the Spirit’s prompting and movement. When everything seems to churn inside returning to God brings us rest from the chaos. Spend time each day just being with God. I am starting with 10 minutes a day to stop and be with God. This isn’t a time for Bible study or crafting prayers. It is just time to be. When we make this a regular practice in our day-to-day it will not only help the swirl to settle, but it will help us to be less distracted and more engaged with God in the times we can get away for retreat.
Don’t judge yourself. When I sit to be with God everything else seems to bombard my thoughts and my ears. Even the dog chewing on his bone or my stomach growling becomes front and center. Realizing how challenging it is to become quiet before God can be discouraging but, take heart! God isn’t discouraged. He loves the fact that you are coming with the intention of being with Him, even if your mind wanders elsewhere. Don’t judge your time. Let God be enough. Trust that He will grow you in your ability to settle your heart and mind.
Remember that being present has the highest value. I am uncomfortable when I stop striving because it doesn’t feel very productive. I have learned to receive my value and worth from what I do for God rather than being with God. How in the world can just being with God be a lesser value or even a waste of time? You would think there is no way you’d ever feel that way…until you stop to just be! When those feeling come rushing in, just remember that there is no greater thing than being with God, the Lover of your soul!
Rest…quietness…settling down into complete dependence on God. This is how we calm the chaos from within. Then, as the Lord promises, “You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’whether to the right or to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21).
The Lord is waiting for you. He longs for you…to show you His favor, His victory, His love, and His compassion. Make time to settle down into His presence today!