I came up with a mental list of New Year’s Resolutions. One of those was: “I will work on my relationship with God!” I am determined to perfect this relationship. I am determined to be walking so closely with the Lord that our feet may as well be tied together. I will be a Super-Christian.
Well, it’s January 13 and I don’t feel a whole lot closer. In fact, I don’t feel much closer at all. I have begun to wonder what the point of a resolution is. I am physically no different today than I was on December 31. What makes a resolution so great? It’s the thought of a New Year. This fresh start that is offered as soon as the clock strikes midnight. A sense of hope and excitement floods in. Everyone rushes to the gym to finally get in shape (and now all the treadmills are always occupied when I go).
Yet, for me and my resolution, I don’t feel fresh, excited, or accomplished. I am 13 days into the New Year and I already feel like a failure. Why is that? I have woken up at 6am one time to get in the Word. My prayer life is just as weak as it was a few weeks ago.
There is a view of the Christian life that regards it as a sort of partnership in which God and man each have their part to do. It admits that there is little man can do, and that little he does is defiled with sin; still he must do his utmost – then only can he expect God to do His part. [Abide in Christ]
I think that has been my view. “God, I made a promise to you that I would grow closer to you…so why haven’t you done it yet? Why haven’t you fixed my problems, restored my soul, and given me a burning desire to know you better and share you with the world?”
I have been in a mental fight with myself for a while now, trying to figure out what methods will bring me closer to God. Maybe if I burn incense, light a candle, and play “Oceans” on repeat, I will summon God to my little desk in my little room (I wish I was joking – these are my real thoughts, people!).
In fact, I’ve been fighting for so long that I’ve forgotten what I’m fighting for. The things I’ve done in an attempt to bring myself closer to God have become the very things that are distracting me from God. It is extremely distracting/hard to harmonize with “Oceans” and pray at the same time, believe me.
…there is the unrest that comes through seeking in our own way, and in our own strength, the spiritual blessing that comes alone from above. The heart occupied with its own plans and efforts for doing God’s will, and securing the blessing of abiding in Jesus, must fail continually… It is a soul silent unto God that is the best preparation for knowing Jesus and for holding fast the blessings He bestows. [Abide]
I’ve been very busy trying to secure my own salvation, and I am failing miserably. You think I would recognize this pattern by now, but I am pretty ignorant sometimes. Every time Katherine relies on Katherine, Katherine will fail. A New Year’s Resolution is just a list of things that people want to try to accomplish on their own. Well, what if I can do nothing on my own?
You have but to bow in the confession of your own ignorance and helplessness; the Father will delight to give you the teaching of the Holy Spirit. [Abide]
Maybe instead of trying to fight my way to God, I should let God come to me. Maybe my focus should be on fighting off the distraction and noise that I create and carry around with me. I should be working to create a clear channel so that when God shows up there will be no distractions to prevent his message from being heard.
I put this into practice the other morning when I woke up. I got out of bed and read a few chapters of Luke. And then I just sat for a few minutes. I sat in the silence of the morning. I had no music playing, my phone was turned off, and I locked my cat out of my room (this is serious!). I won’t lie to you and say that God blew through the roof of my apartment and sat next to me. But I experienced a beautiful moment. For the first time in I don’t even know how long, my mind was not focused on what my next move should be. My mind was simply focused on the glory of God. I wasn’t concerned with a method to bring myself closer to God. I was concerned with spending a few silent moments with Him.
In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. [Isaiah 30:15]
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation…For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. [Psalm 62:1,5]
You keep him at perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. [Isaiah 26:3]
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. [Zephaniah 3:17]
A very important part of abiding in Christ – if not the most important part – is learning to be silent and still. If I want to accomplish my goal of finding peace and complete satisfaction with God, well, I need to learn how to shut up.