I’m reading a great devotional for busy mums. It talks about the importance of coming before God in silence and stillness.
Yes, I think. Yes. But how?
Noise is the tapestry of my days. Toys that sing when you step on them. The hum of the washing machine; car horns honking; the chatter and clatter of dishes and children. No breaks and no off switch. No time for anything else.
That’s not quite true. It is possible to carve out pockets of stillness. When the kids are asleep; waking in the night; early in the morning. Scoops of silence; guilty, greedy gulps. These are my moments…and I don’t want to share. I don’t feel like opening the bible. I don’t feel like talking to God.
I’m not beating myself up for not having a four-hour quiet time. The problem is how I see my heavenly Father…and what I think the ‘spiritual life’ looks like. When I get these wrong, everything else crumbles.
That’s not my God…
One of my son’s favourite sensory books is called, ‘That’s not my tractor.’ It goes like this, ‘That’s not my tractor; its engine is too bumpy. Its trailer is too rough. Its funnel is too smooth..’. On the last page it reads, ‘THAT’S my tractor – it’s headlights are so shiny.’ It’s a preschool book and we laugh at it together. But I wonder if I’m telling myself a similar story. Mine’s called, ‘That’s not my God’.
His demands are too draining…
Sometimes, I picture God as a divine hoover. He sucks up obedience, energy, joy — anything going spare. So if I go near him, he’ll ask too much – in fact, he’ll drain the life out of me.
If this is what I think of God, then then I will try to ‘do my bit’. I’ll fit in a quiet time, but on my terms and as part of a checklist. A short bible reading, (based on a reassuring verse). A familiar prayer, (Lord bless my family and help X). Sometimes, as an added extra, ‘Please come close to me… in the next forty seconds… Or a week on Thursday, any time between 2 and 4′.
Quiet time, tick. Like unstacking the dishwasher; both of us left empty. Why? Because that’s not my God.
The God of the Bible isn’t a hoover, but a fountain. He’s brim-full of mercy and grace; and getting near to him is like drinking from a Niagara Falls of life. That’s my God; giving and full. He doesn’t crush me with demands – He lifts and leads me, through his word. He tells me what the Christian life looks like – and once again, it’s not the story I tell myself.
That’s not my Christian walk…its vibe is too groovy
When I think of ‘spirituality,’ I think of lava lamps, scented candles and beatific super-saints. This might make a nice wall print – but it’s a million miles from the person of Jesus or the basics of the gospel.
The Spiritual Life is the life of the Spirit. This Spirit doesn’t come to beam us out of trial — instead, he often drops us into it! Think of Matthew 3, where Jesus is filled with the Father’s love so that he can face diabolical temptation in the desert (Matt. 4:1). Or Romans 8:15-16 where the Spirit reminds us that we are God’s children. The Spirit does this in the midst of suffering (Romans 8:17). He cries ‘Abba’ on our behalf; even as He groans inwardly (Romans 8:23).
Our spiritual life is lived in the midst of great hardship and opposition. To stay with Romans 8, notice that we are “more than conquerors “in all these things.” Not after all these things, or besides all these things, in them!
The spiritual life doesn’t look like perfect tranquility or a plastered-on smile. It looks like groans and desperation, pain and pleading. But in all these things we groan and plead upwards. And in all these things “we are more than conquerors.”
So; when we’re exhausted and despairing, let’s not give up on crying out to God. We come to Him with emptiness; but He brings all His fullness — a Fountain of Spiritual life.
That’s my God.