Tomorrow night we are wrapping up a series that, although I must admit is not fully inspired by myself, has continued a very long journey into the heart of Christ specifically when looking at His desire to simply be with us. It began a few months ago when I picked a book called “Enjoy the Silence”. As most readers my age, we tend to be more drawn to a cover image than the possible content of a book. I’m no exception…hey, it looked and sounded interesting so why not. The book, it turns out, rocked my prayer life. For years I had looked at prayer and reading Scripture as a religious chore, as something I had to do to please God. Isn’t it funny how we seem to turn any spiritual discipline meant to add meaning and understanding to life into a religious excercise? Maybe not so funny.
So I’m reading “Enjoy the Silence”, and I am turned on to the practice of Lectio Divina, which is actually a spiritual meditation of sorts practiced by monks. The process involves reading a portion of Scripture, not to accomplish anything, but to listen to what God wants to speak. Not listen to the words as they roll of your tongue, but to really listen to the heartbeat behind the words and how they relate to You. “What is God telling me here and how is this relevant for me right now?” I have since literally spent hours on one verse. I will turn my clocks around during a time of the day I know will be free from interruption, and I will go at it. If I really feel like I’ve connected with God in thirty minutes, then so be it. If I sit there for two hours, I’m patiently waiting to hear from my father. It is more a process of spending time in the presence of God rather than reading and praying. Very good stuff.
So as I’m studying for this series I start to see the importance God puts on this idea of Sabbath and rest. I believe that my time with God everyday is a time of rest and rejuvenation. I become so comfortable in the presence of God at times that I will literally fall asleep. It happens when you feel that much at peace. Which, by the way, is the way Scripture would define success.
It is interesting that most people would define success in material terms. Even in ministry we do this. The bigger the church, the better the music, the brighter the stage lights, the better the sermon, the bigger success. Ok, whatever. That’s total bs.
The whole of Scripture points to one definition of success and that’s peace. I had a pastor years ago that would tell me his ultimate aim in life was to be at spiritual peace. Though that sounds so new age, it’s so true. The whole salvation story is one of redemtion and eventual restoration. Restore to what? The way that humanity and the world was to origianlly exist, at peace with the world and at peace with God.
This is where the word “Shalom” originates. Shalom means “peace be with you”. That’s not the same peace we think of when we think the opposite of war. Peace here means literally, “May you live life the way God originally intended you to live it.” Peace is the goal.
Now thats the polar opposite of what the world that surrounds us demands. It’s all about creating and accomplishing. It’s all about being successful and being able to show it as we amass our wealth and material possessions. Amass away friends. I would rather put my time where it’s going to count, where the moth doesn’t feast.
God created then on the seventh day He rested. Do we really think God needed rest? No, God was saying, “Do as I do.” You must take time to rest. When you study the life of Moses and the exodus, you realize that it was all about rest. Moses commands of Pharoah, “Let my people go!” That’s such a cool line right? Then Moses says something that makes no sense at all…”Let my people go so they may go into the desert and have a festival.” Have a festival? So the Egyptians are murdering Israelites and that’s not why God’s upset. God just wants them to go into the desert and ride the ferris wheel a few times?
Rest is tied to worship. God wanted His people to rest and to worship. We have to find time for spiritual rest. It is when we don’t that our world literally begins to fall apart. I attribute much of the mental problems that plague my generation to the demands that society places on them…there literally isn’t enough time in the day. Our society as we know it will collapse under it’s own unrealistic expectations it places on itself. Why? Because we aren’t seeking peace. We aren’t taking time to rest and to worship. We aren’t paying attention to our spirtual lives. Eventually we will either have to exodus or we will die slaves to whatever we allow to become our taskmaster.
Be still and know that I am God. You don’t have to do more to impress God. You could lose your job, your marriage, your world could literally feel like it’s falling apart, you know what His response would be? “I still love you. I want your heart. Just be still and be with Me.”