Photo Credit: http://unscene.me/idea/
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed by website attributed with the photo credit are their own, FSS does neither claim to advocate or disagree with them explicitly.
Imagine how much clutter we face on a daily basis. We are practically inundated by cultural opinions in movies, television, and social media. We need to be careful what we allow ourselves to take in through all forms of media and communication. How can we expect to draw nearer to God and His Word if we are surrounding ourselves with so much in conflict with it? How did we buy into the lie that once we became believers we’d be immune to needing to nourish the Holy Spirit on a regular basis? The truth is we all need to constantly submit ourselves to God. We need to take in His Word through as many formats as possible, including our own personal Bible study, in order to stand a fighting chance to adhere to it.
One thing I believe I have neglected a great deal is spending more quiet time alone with God. We serve a God who has the capacity to fight seen and unseen battles for us while we sit in stillness and trust Him. (V*1). Does this mean we should sit back without being diligent all day long? No, it doesn’t. What it means is that when we have a deep need for rest, which should occur fairly frequently, we need to obey God’s design and rest. I would venture to say there are at least two different kinds of quality, alone time we can spend with God. This is not to say that they cannot overlap, as I often find myself incorporating both to some degree simultaneously.
The first that comes to mind is quiet time studying God’s Word for the purpose of understanding Him better, and drawing nearer to His Will for us. In other words, to examine His character or see how He treated our brothers and sisters in Christ who came before us, to name two specific examples. This can inspire us when it comes to offering hope in time of discouragement. We can see that God used fallible people like us in the Bible to do things far beyond their personal capacity for anything. That he used sinners to repent, follow Him, and do things worthy of eternal reward and significance by His grace for His glory.
The second kind of quiet time is one that sits in stillness at the face of God’s majesty, and finds the fear of the Lord a refuge for renewed strength. A focus on rest knowing that God is managing our affairs on our behalf, even when we are incapable of going even one step further. A rest intentionally revolving around letting go of the idea that we are in control, and recognizing that God is in full control of our entire life. Knowing that even when we fall short or run out of fuel to continue on the mission, that He replenishes our stamina, passion, and desire to continue serving Him. (V*2). Of course we can combine this kind of rest with a contemplation of our purposes in the Will of God. We may even have a physical desire for rest, but our minds may be capable of meditating on His Word or studying it to some degree. As I mentioned earlier, the two kinds of quiet times aren’t necessarily far enough of part that I would say they’re mutually exclusive. You can have a part of one, and still embrace a part of the other. I felt that there was simply enough of a distinction to merit discussing them as though they were two critical components of the same engine. An engine that recognizes God’s sovereignty, submits to Him, and understands God’s design for rest.
You may be asking yourself, what “design for rest” I am speaking of. What in the Bible indicates that we need rest or quiet time with God? There are several references that I am aware of, and I am confident there are more I won’t be mentioning here. The first noteworthy allusion to this is found in the Biblical account of Creation in Genesis. (V*3). God made the world and everything in it in six days, and decided to rest on the seventh day. If we think critically for one brief minute about this, we can come to at least one straightforward conclusion. The Creator of the Universe, who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent doesn’t require rest. So for Him to have chosen to rest, I personally believe, gives us an example of how we should view rest. It’s not a sign of weakness or an invitation to guilt oneself for lack of productivity. Real rest is a blessing from God and is part of His design for us. If God chose to rest on the seventh day, He made a statement to us if nothing else. If God rested, how much more should we value rest? It’s similar to asking about Jesus Christ and how He prayed to God the Father. (V*4). If He prayed to God the Father, how much more do we need prayer? Yet look at how many of us seem to allow prayer to become a lesser priority. We act as if actions counted for more, and prayer wasn’t on the same level as taking immediate action. That’s simply a demonstration of a lack of faith, and I am guilty of this faulty logic sometimes.
We’re supposed to take one day a week and call it the Sabbath day. It needs to be set apart and treated with special respect. We’re not supposed to labor on that day. While we could get into a more specific discussion regarding what qualifies as labor in terms of the Sabbath, I don’t want to breach that aspect of the topic in the scope of this article. The point is that the Sabbath day is a reminder for us to rest, worship God, and nourish ourselves through His Word Spiritually. That’s what a successful Sabbath day should sound like. If I can’t make that a Sunday, for me it could be a Wednesday. For instance if my employment was rigid about scheduling and Sundays were unavailable, I would have to adapt to that or find a new workplace. The important thing in the eyes of God is that we designate a day, and keep it holy, reserved, and fully dedicated to Him. (V*5).
Some of the best quiet time with God I experience is in the shower. Often times I will make it a point to pray or sing a praise song in that space of time. Critical times are also in the morning right as I open my eyes, even before I plant my feet on the ground or laying in my bed with my eyes closed right before bed. I like to dedicate those times to thank God for another day of life and pray about the concerns on my mind. In the morning I also like to reaffirm through prayerful request that I am wearing the full armor of God and I hope to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. At night before bed I sometimes listen to worship music until I drift off to sleep, but it’s also a great time to listen to quality podcasts from Christian radio shows that I missed. The most peaceful, effective time I believe is when there’s no music, no podcast, and nothing else. The only ones in the vicinity are God, you, and some of the time your Bible. Even if you’re married, you should find a dedicated space where you can also spend time apart, alone with God. You can come back together later on for all the other wonderful things married couples do together. I should also point out that praying together is a fantastic idea, but I am trying to focus on the beauty of being alone with God. Quietly avoiding all the stressors of the world. Casting your cares upon God because He cares for you. (V*6). Praying about your concerns, worries, anxieties, fears, doubts, dreams, hopes, expectations, requests, desires, and any other category of consideration you can imagine. There’s nothing off limits, too small, or too big that you cannot share with God. He’s our Maker, He knows us infinitely more than we know ourselves. He knows what we’ll speak before we even say it, but somehow that doesn’t eliminate our need to say it. It’s fascinating when you think of prayer in the context of recognizing God’s omniscience. Don’t dwell on the difficulty of understanding it; instead pray in humility and submission to the Almighty so that He will show you the way you should go.
A lot of times a solid disconnect from the world would benefit us a great deal. I don’t mean just unplugging from all social contact, and essentially becoming a recluse. What I mean is allowing ourselves to disconnect from how connected modern living has become. If you let go of social media for a day or two, a week, or a month – you know what would happen when you get back? It’s still probably going to be there, and you’ll feel a lot better about having prioritized spending quiet time with God instead. You know what happens when you don’t know the latest news story or you miss out on current events for a day or two? For all practical purposes nothing changes, and nothing will happen that God didn’t expect or isn’t in complete control of. I am not trying to bash being aware of current events, cultural trends, or the use of social media. That would be quite hypocritical of me, and in moderation it can all be a blessing. What I am trying to say is that peace and sanity are higher priorities. We’re not called to live persistently stressed out, running on caffeine over sleep, and forgetting that God has it all under control. When we rest we express that we fear God. We rest knowing that He breathed life into us, knitted us together in our mother’s womb, and knows what we really need. When something we wanted in life gets taken away or an opportunity appears to be lost, we need to learn to look for God’s better alternatives.
We need to get better at discerning the leading of God through the Holy Spirit, and less adept at listening to the massive clutter the world offers. This clutter only leads to confusion, an overload of useless information, and the faulty assumption that we need to be “in the know” about everything. It’s okay not to know some things, and I am actually going beyond that and telling you it’s in your best interest not to know a lot of things. There is a difference between seeking Godly counsel, wisdom, knowledge, and prudence as opposed to seeking more worldly information. Even worldly wisdom and knowledge have severe limitations and should be treated as tools only to the extent that we can bring honor, glory, and acknowledgment to God with them. Otherwise, what can we really say is the use of them? If they help us redeem the time and follow the calling God placed in us they’re something beneficial. However, if they are only self-serving, aimless, or have a superior Biblical substitute, then they are nothing more than distractions.
Pray that God would bless you with the discernment to know when it’s time to sit back and spend quality time with Him as opposed to over exerting yourself. God will help you balance everything more effectively for His glory.
V*1- 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:14 (NKJV).
V*2- 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9 (NKJV).
V*3- 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Genesis 2:2 (NKJV).
V*4- 17 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should[a] give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. John 17:1-5 (NKJV).
V*5- “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. Exodus 20:8-11 (NKJV).
V*6- 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV).
V*7- 18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness” 1 Corinthians 3:18-19 (NKJV).