I haven’t been making much headway in the little series I started on enjoying God.** Partly this is because I’m not doing so well myself on that subject these days. It is sadly amazing how easily I can shift my focus from spending time with God to thinking about God.
I often like to pride myself that I’m a Mary at heart, not a Martha. I’m reflective, contemplative, preferring solitude to the social whirl or endless home improvement projects. Only I’ve discovered that I too get quite busy–in my contemplation. I may be sitting at the feet of Jesus, stationary. But in my mind, I’m charging around like an intellectual Martha.
There is a time to work out knotty problems of faith, to ask my questions of God, to look up cross-references and study notes, to read a passage in a few translations to get a better sense of the meaning. And there is a time to accept that I am a human being with finite mental power. That’s the time to sit and gaze, silent as well as still, in body and in mind, occupied only with Him, not trying to figure things out but entering into the intimacy of listening to Him.
Someone once said that loss of intimacy comes when I am preoccupied elsewhere. This person was talking about marriage but the same dynamic is true in any relationship, including me and God. Rather frequently, I come to spend time with God preoccupied elsewhere.
The person suggested three questions to ask another person if you want to foster intimacy:
Where am I struggling–or what are my burdens?
What was today’s joy?
Where am I going?
I’ve been finding it helpful to answer these questions when I come to spend time with God. They settle me down. They get the distractions [usually centered around the first question] out on the table. Although it is safer and easier and more comfortable to keep things on the surface with God, when I risk openness, life and love and grace can come in.
That’s the start. The next step is to get my attention off of myself and on to Him. Some days it takes more effort on my part, but when I quiet myself down enough so I can listen, and still my soul so I can see who He is, I am brought into intimacy with Him.
One way to put my focus onto God is to consider how He would answer the three questions. What is He burdened for? What brings Him joy? What are His plans? I was reading Isaiah 65 and found some His answers .
I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for Me…I was ready to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, “here am I, here am I,” to a nation that was not called by My name.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress…. Is 65:19
Before they call I will answer;
While they are yet speaking I will hear. Is 64:24
An amazing thing happened as I reflected on these responses of God. I found that my own burdens were lifted. I received a renewed joy. I wanted to be part of His plan. It brought me closer to Him. It was a great lesson to learn that being drawn into deeper intimacy with God comes not only when I share my struggles and joys with Him, but also when I listen to His. Those three questions really do work!
Blessed be the LORD!
For He has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to Him.
The LORD is the strength of His people;
He is the saving refuge of His anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
**Link to the first in the How to Enjoy God series:
How to enjoy God
You can also click on the ‘enjoying God’ phrase in the Labels box and see the whole series so far.