THE ABIDING LIFE
By Gwen Sellers
It sounds strange, but I've recently been struck with the fact that knowledge takes time. This applies both to intellectual knowledge as well as to relational knowledge. In the midst of busy schedules, emails awaiting reply, questions needing to be answered, errands to be run, appointments to attend, etc., I wonder how many of us are tempted to "check things off the list" rather than engage fully in the moment. I know I have been guilty of getting the job done rather than embracing each moment. Sadly, I miss out when I do that.
Intellectually, I am sometimes more eager to find an answer or come to resolution on an issue than I am to actually learn. It could be a pride issue — I think providing a quick answer makes me look smart or something. Perhaps it is anxiety — I'm uncomfortable with the unknown. Maybe I'm just lazy. Whatever the case, it's not good. Last week I felt a bit convicted when I wrote about the importance of finding out what God has actually said (you can read that blog here). I realized that doing so takes significant effort, and I had to confront the reality that I am often just not willing to put in the work. How frequently do I cherry-pick verses or only briefly glance at the context rather than seek to gain a complete picture of what is being said? How many times do I look to experts or answers from other people as opposed to looking at Scripture for myself? The Bible is full of passages about meditating on God's Word. Meditation implies focused time. Joshua 1:8 says, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." Day and night. That's some serious time. It was not meant to be an intellectual quest with a definite end, but a lifestyle. In meditation, questions arise. Sometimes those questions are not easily answered. We continue to go about our lives — day and night — while also continuing to seek out truth. We also keep reminding ourselves of what we know to be true, doing that which is written. We meditate day and night — keeping God at the forefront and recognizing that He is not one aspect of our lives but permeates the whole. God told Joshua that it would pay off; he would "have good success." In the next verse, He told Joshua, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9). I'm seeing a relationship between Joshua's ability to be courageous and his willingness to spend time meditating on the Word of God. Through meditating on God's Word, Joshua would come to know God and be able to trust Him. Trusting that God is with him would give Joshua strength and courage.
Relationally, most of us realize that "checking off" a coffee date with a friend is relatively pointless. Active listening is a learned skill, and one that I could stand to refresh. In making that statement, I think of two important truths about my relationship with God. First, I can only be fully present with other people when I'm not worried about myself. And the only way to not be worried about myself is to be satisfied in God. From a solid relationship with Him, healthy relationship with others flows. Second, when I'm fully present with God, I get a lot out of it. Actively listening to Him is important, too.
Listening to God ... oh dear, I said that. Let me explain what I mean by this. God does not speak audibly to me, nor is He revealing any "new" truths to me (they may be new to me, but God is not going to tell me something that contradicts what He has revealed in His written Word). What I mean is that when my heart is still and I am paying attention to life, God teaches me a lot of things. You know how some people get their best ideas in the shower or at red lights or at the gym? I'm one of those people. "Mindless" activities allow for wandering thoughts and/or intentional reflection. When I'm really engaging in life, though, it's as if truth nuggets hit me unexpectedly. My ears are more attuned to God when I live with a relaxed sense of being. When I am looking only to take life in instead of frantically searching for truth or an answer, I seem to receive more actual answers. When I'm intentional about my desire for God to teach me and reign in my life, instead of focused on "doing life well," He delivers. It is when I am engaged in the moment, receiving rather than cloying, that my eyes are opened, my ears are unplugged, and I am teachable. Not only is this more fruitful, it's much more enjoyable.
Though so-called mindless activities prompt productive thought, I would argue that the key is actually mindfulness. Not in a mystical sense, but in the sense that I am showing up for life with expectancy. And not expecting something in particular, just expecting that God really is who He says He is. That He is in control. That He loves me completely. That He is at work in me. That He delights in me. That He wants to teach me and guide me into truth. When I fully participate in the activities of the day, aware that God is in active relationship with me, I am more able to glean the insight God has for me. Instead of worrying about the future or ruminating on the past, when I just engage in what is before me, I can more clearly hear God. Often He does bring clarity to the past or peace about the future. But the key is living as if God has it all handled and has invited me along on the journey. As I learn to trust His heart and His timing, I begin to relax into His control. Rather than go through life as if I need to reach a certain point or as if the world will end if my list isn't finished or as if life is one big puzzle I've been left alone to piece together, I can live life as if it is meant to be enjoyed. Instead of rushing for the answer, I can appreciate that often the best answers are those that have taken time to develop. The "answer" may seem to be a tidy package of truth, but the potency is in the journey it took to get there. It's the day and night meditation that fosters relationship that leads to courage, not the scholarly response.
The craziest thing is that in living this way I actually end up with more of what I really wanted all along. When I'm on the hunt for insight or solutions, I get unhelpful distractions. When I depend on God, and become willing to take whatever sort of time He's got planned for me, I get real answers and real satisfaction. When I live as the recipient of grace, rather than an earner of it, I more readily experience its reward.
Image Credit: Hartwig HKD; Waiting; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | God-Father | Personal-Life
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Published on 6-11-2014