Sunday, May 24, 2009

Silence, resting in Him, and a heart change...

I don't know if any of you have heard of Peter Scazzero's small devotional book called, "Begin the Journey with the Daily Office" before.

If you have, and you have used it some in any sort of way in your life, you will know what I mean when I say this is making a huge difference in my walk with God.

The beginning of this week, I was still resisting God. I have been fighting him when he has wanted me to just surrender at least one area of my life to him that I have been holding out on. I was still acknowledging that I needed to do something, but not willing to take the steps I knew it were necessary.

The Daily Office really encourages spending some extended time (starting small and building up to longer times) being still before God and centering in on resting in his presence. I found it extremely hard to do so as I started this week. Probably because I knew my heart wasn't right.

My heart wasn't surrendered, so why would it find it easy to center in and quiet itself before God?

But as I walked through this devotional, my heart softened. As I read through the prayers about surrendering and being silent, and read through them out loud as suggested, something changed.

How can you read prayers, and pray prayers and seek God's presence without being changed?

Scazzero provides you with guides to prayers, a scripture reading, a devotional section (short), a question to consider, and a written prayer. There are two for each day; morning/midday and midday/evening; to fit your schedule as needed or as wanted. The point is to settle yourself before God for 10 minutes to 20 minutes or more as you have time, two or more times a day, depending on your daily routine and schedule. The idea behind that is, the more you take time out of your day, trusting God to help you get done what is really needed, laying down your control of the day, you take God with you into every part of your day. It reminds you that God is really with you. You are able to practice being in His presence through out the whole day, rather than "filling up" in the morning with a quiet time to "get what you need" for the rest of the day.

It has changed the way I think about my devotions with God. Whether I do one in the morning when I get up (which is preferrable to me, so I don't get busy with the kids, and my mind get going without first committing everything to Him) and one again at the end of the day, right before bed; or whether I do one at lunch and another just after supper, or any combination, I am more likely to stay with God throughout the day.

I don't just hurriedly say a quick prayer for the people I remember. No laundry list of prayers with a hurried reading, and hurried "oh, and God help me through this day... show me what to do, Amen."

This really forces me to slow down. To take my time. To start and end with at least 2 minutes of silence. When I find I am having trouble staying silent without my brain taking off, I take a small bit of scripture that I might be memorizing, and just pray through and meditate on a phrase of it, asking God to show me something that I haven't noticed before. Then I move on with the office for that day.

The rhythm of taking time out, then working some, then taking a bit more time out for resting in God, really has seemed to help my days. Now I am only on about day 4 right now, but already I notice a difference. My spirit seems so much more settled, even when there are things going on that I could be (and do still) worry about.

Some of the questions, or comments that have come up in the past few days from this book have really impacted me.

"Help me to listen to you and grant me the courage to faithfully surrender to you."

"God, sometimes, wounds us in our journey with him in order to move us out an unhealthy, 'tip of the iceberg' spirituality to one that truly transforms us from the inside out."

"Lord, I invite you to teach me to live in dependence on you. Help me rest and be still in your love alone."

"[When I am still] God can break through the many layers with which I protect myself, so that I can hear his Word and be poised to listen.... most of our human problems come because we don't know how to sit still in our room for an hour."

"Lord forgive me for running my life without you today. I offer my anxieties to you now - as best I can. Help me to be still, to surrender to your will, and to rest in your loving arms."
(excerpts from "Daily Office" pgs. 6-11)

Just sit and read through those passages again and let them sink in. As I have had time to soak them in, to really hear them in my heart as well as my mind, my heart has been changed.

The time in silence has become comfortable again. I have found the comfort in God's presence, in his word, in silence before him. I (for the most part!!) am not afraid to hear from him and what he might say.

I am looking forward to seeing what else he will teach me through this time of silence and seeking him several times a day. I am more hopeful, though there are still the same struggles as before. I feel like, through this, through the times of silence and contemplation before him, he has said to me, "It's ok, I am here and I am going to walk with you through this."

One of the biggest things I have felt, almost spoken aloud to me happened just the other day.

I felt God speaking to my heart.

I have filled you with my Spirit, you have power beyond your own.
I have covered you with my Son, you are cleansed, forgiven.
I have adopted you as your Father, you are set free and my heir.

There is nothing better than that realization.

The depression, anxiety, worries about money, worries about a job, fears for the future, concerns about family and friends, struggles with knowing who I really am, who I was created to be....
Those all pale in comparison to who I am in Christ, what my Father has given me, and how richly I am blessed.
Those other things are still there. But so is my Father. To Him I can run in everything, with everything.

May God bless you this day, and may you find time to silence your heart and mind before Him and rest in His presence.

Joyfully on the road,


Rachel B said...

Came across your blog today. I think I know why. I've really been seeking to "be quiet" before the Lord lately. Like you, I find it so hard to just turn my mind off...and just BE with the Lord. Also, like you, I know there are a couple of places in my heart that I need to completely surrender to the Lord. I don't want to hold anything back from the Lord; yet haven't taken the time to seek out His direction.

This book sounds terrific and like it's probably just what I need. I think I'll check it out.

Thanks for the post today. Many blessings to you as you seek more of the Lord.

Stacy said...

Thanks for sharing this devotional book. Sounds transformational...will be my next purchase.

God Bless,

Kimberly said...

I love your new look, Heather! :) So glad you stopped in tonight.

This book sounds great! What you are writing about here resonates so much with things He is trying to teach me right now, too.

Know that I will be praying for you! And I am super excited for you that you get to go to She Speaks this year! :)

Love and prayers,

Anonymous said...

heather - another prayer series to use for daily prayers is 'the divine hours' - it takes stuff from the Book of Common Prayer and other historic prayer books, as well as scripture readings, hymntexts, and creeds, and puts them together for matins, mid-day, evening, and compline - 'fixed-hour' prayer. it's an amazing resource, by phyllis tickle. good to see you here!!!