Are you comfortable in your stillness? According to research, the average phone user checks emails, social media, and their texts before even getting out of bed in the morning. Our brains have grown accustomed to a constant feed of news, information, ideas, opinions, and educational resources. These things in and of themselves are not wrong, but if unchecked, they impede on our ability to be present with ourselves and God.
Consider it like this: we only possess a limited capacity in a day. If that capacity has developed habits which fill, distract, and entertain us, without connecting, steadying, and grounding us in the Lord, we’re filling our minds with things that will just pass away. They aren’t the one thing we were designed to commune with: God’s presence.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)
Our loud world
Playlists, podcasts, sermons, audiobooks, youtube videos…the list continues of all the forms of media we have access to at the touch of our fingers. Without much thought, we can quickly tune into other ideas, songs, and thoughts. This alone is not inherently bad or “wrong”. But if we are not intentional, we can become used to filling all of our free or bored moments with noise. In doing this, we are less likely to connect to ourselves or hear from the Lord. What we choose to think upon is incredibly influential to our lives.
“The process of thinking and choosing is the most powerful thing in the universe after God, and it is a phenomenal gift from God to be treasured and used properly.” Dr. Caroline Leaf, Switch On Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health.
God gifts us free will to engage with what we choose in our life. In an increasingly loud world, it is vital that we hone our thoughts into a stillness with the Lord where the source of our entire lives is invigorated and transformed.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
Distractions rob us
The enemy loves when our minds are distracted from God. When we aren’t centered on what the Lord is saying and doing in our lives, little by little, we drift off course. Distraction doesn’t happen all at once. It begins in our small, daily habits. It’s in the battle for our minds, something only we have a say in what they entertain. Think of it this way: Let’s say you’re preparing to make a big change in your life (move states, jobs, or even out of the country) and you hear a promise from the Lord about this change. If you are not intentional, you can put that promise away, forgetting to stand on it, and instead being distracted by all of the outward circumstances (difficulty, doubt, struggles, etc). It’s not that you didn’t believe God’s promise to you, but you entertained the wrong thing.
Signs you may be uncomfortable in your stillness
- you’re avoiding rest, quiet time, or decompressing without a phone, TV, book, or form of entertainment
- you’re spending time with God, but fill it with prayer, journaling, or worship (“doing” instead of “being”)
- in free moments, you instinctively reach for your phone or scroll mindlessly
There is no shame if these resonate with you. We cannot change the patterns of familiarity in our minds without becoming aware and curious–not critical–toward them. I’ve had seasons of life where I’ve noticed I’m constantly reaching for a social media app in my downtime. Once I noticed this habit, I could have become harsh or judgmental toward myself for this behavior. Instead, I engaged with Holy Spirit, asking God to reveal to me why this pattern developed. From here, I was able to own my choice to develop this habit, and work to develop a different habit: one that lessens my anxiety
It’s not that you aren’t making space or time to sit with the Lord, but you’re filling that space with “doing” instead of merely “being” with God. Not striving to get things done, pray the right things, journal enough, or sing the right songs, but simply abiding with your Father.
In your stillness
When we are accustomed to noise, it can feel difficult to quiet our minds before the Lord. Just as we grew used to noise, we can teach our bodies and spirits to become comfortable in silence.
In The Silence by Jason Upton explores what the quiet is like…it’s where we make space to encounter the fire of God:
“In the silence
You are speaking
In the quiet I can feel the fire
And it’s burning, burning deeply
Burning all that it is
That you desire to be silent, in me”
This isn’t to say that God isn’t speaking when it’s loud. But our minds are much less likely to listen–to hear–what He has to say when we’re tuned into the noise. If you’re struggling to connect and “be” with God, take a minute to evaluate what your daily life looks like. How much time and space do you have to be still? If your free moments, like driving to work, or doing household chores, what have you allowed your ears to tune into? I want to challenge you: make an effort with yourself to turn down the noise. Escape into the life-giving presence of Jesus, He is a well that never runs dry.
I encourage you to read Psalm 23 aloud to yourself.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.[a]
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely[d] goodness and mercy[e] shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell[f] in the house of the Lord
Notice all of the “doing” that God enacts in this passage: he leads the psalmist beside still waters, he makes him lie down in green pastures, and he leads him to paths of righteousness. God is literally our shepherd, leading us with His voice. This voice is heard in your stillness. Allowing His presence to be our core focus, the radio station we tune into, we position ourselves for the life He has designed for us.