“In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.” – Pico Iyer
Here we are. Headed into the holiday season. And after a little needed silence, I am feeling so very grateful.
I’ve been quiet on my blog for about a month. Some of this quietness has been due to the revolving door our home has been accustom to this past month. But mostly, I’ve needed the silence for myself. I’ve needed to quiet my own voice so I can hear God’s. Instead of evading my doubts and fears, the quiet of this past month allowed me to step into God’s invitation to even deeper healing.
In this journey of finding my voice, I have no interest in just learning to be loud. Or learning to be confrontational or direct just for the sake of a crowd pleaser. And I never want to mistake finding my voice for an excuse to focus on me. Being on this journey holds far deeper meaning to me. It’s about healing the broken parts inside of me so that my voice can be brave, strong and free. Finding my voice means learning to be in touch with who God made me to be and then living in the fullness of that beauty. It’s about silencing the lies I’ve believed and allowing His truth to rejuvenate me at my core. It’s about perfect love casting out fear. It’s about trusting God to love me and use me exactly how He’s made me.
Our church has recently been asking the question, “What if…” about our prayer life. What if… we actually prayed every day? What if… we hallowed God’s name? What if… we actually expected God to answer? What if… we asked for healing?
Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to take our Church’s challenge and be quiet and pray fifteen minutes a day. Sounds easy right? I thought so too. Until I was confronted by how distracted and hurried most of my days actually are. Slowing down to hear Him has been a gift, but it’s been uncomfortable in the same right. He’s been putting some pretty clear and challenging things on my heart. Things that scare me. Because, if I’m being honest with you, they are things I think I’ll fail at…
A few weeks back, however, I had one particular week where prayer was really hard. Like REALLY. Every time I sat down to be quiet, my mind would wonder, the kids would interrupt. Altogether, it just didn’t seem to be working. I could tell my heart was holding back. And upon reflection, I know this holding back was due to fear. He is putting BIG things on my heart… How can I do these things that scare me? Seriously. So much of me just didn’t really want to hear what He had to say.
So I walked into church that following Sunday still feeling blocked. (Which is a small part of what made this particular Sunday so powerful.)
Before the service started, I found myself waiting for my husband in the lobby. Each week we conquer and divide in order to get our three kids into their perspective Sunday school classes. I stood, leaning up against the wall, minding my own business when I heard the Holy Spirit very clearly whisper to me, “I want you to go forward today.” The small, still voice rather surprised me since I hadn’t been able to hear much from Him that week. But it simultaneously rattled me because “going forward” was something I did NOT want to do. I don’t like ANY part of being in the spotlight. Besides, wasn’t going up to the alter call for those accepting Jesus for the first time or those who were in dire straights? Certainly that wasn’t me. So I kind of shrugged it off.
Yes… I said it… I shrugged off the Holy Spirit.
And wouldn’t you know? Our pastor’s sermon that morning was on not grieving the Holy Spirit.
Our pastor talked about how the Holy Spirit is a person who is always with us. He is always speaking to us, but we often can’t hear Him because we aren’t listening. He reminded us that the Holy Spirit sounds like your conscience, your own voice, but it will tell you to do Biblical things. He talked about how the Holy Spirit wants us to obey the things He tells us because He has blessings He wants to give us when we obey. When we don’t obey, it grieves His heart because we are saying “no” to all that He has for us.
I’ll admit to you, I sat there taking it in, all the while with a cynical attitude in my spirit, “I haven’t heard anything yet that has moved me enough to go forward”. Just then, Miles read 1 Corinthians 2:9-12,
“However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived – the things God has prepared for those who love him. These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.”
These words cut into me so sharp and deep, literal tears immediately starting streaming down my face. And they just. Wouldn’t. Stop. It was as if I had no control of my reaction.
Our pastor continued to share how these verses pertain not only to what God has for us in heaven, but what He has for us right here on earth. He talked about how some of us know – we KNOW – what it is God is asking us to do. The Holy Spirit keeps whispering it to us – but we keep ignoring Him and grieving Him and robbing ourselves of spiritual blessings He has for us.
And there I was, sitting in my seat. Still. Unable to stop the tears from falling.
A few minutes later, our pastor prayed that we would be filled with faith and courage to surrender to what the Holy Spirit has been telling us; that we would trust Him; that we would allow Him to take us by the hand and guide us away from our old life; that we wouldn’t disappoint Him anymore.
When our pastor asked those of us to stand who felt called to… I stood.
Knees and hands shaking. Tears, runny nose and all.
I stood because I knew I heard the Holy Spirit’s voice in the lobby that morning. I stood because I want to be courageous enough to surrender and obey Him – especially when it’s outside of my comfort zone. I stood because I’m ready to leave my old stuff – I’m ready to let go of my shame and stop condemning myself. I stood because He’s been clearly putting things on my heart for a long time and I know I’ve been running, strictly out of fear.
So I stood.
Those of us who stood were invited into a prayer room and partnered up with a prayer support team leader. I was matched with a beautiful, gift of a woman. She asked a little about what had moved me to stand. I shared as best I could through my (still present) tears and shaky voice. She prayed an incredibly powerful prayer over me – praying things she could never have known about me.
And then… God continued to shower down His love-blessings all over me.
My prayer gal shared a vision she had of me that came to her as she prayed for me. It was powerful. Beautiful. And wouldn’t you know? It was a direct confirmation of what God has been putting on my heart… and this lady could never have known that.
Since then, I can sense the deep healing God is doing and has done inside of me. How He’s changing me at my core. How I’m believing Him more wholly. He’s showing me yet another layer of how He’s turned my ashes into beauty. The shame is crumbling, the condemnation is fleeing. His joy and peace is increasing.
Last month, when I started operating in fear, I gave the Holy Spirit the stiff-arm. I was afraid of what He would ask of me. I was afraid of what He wanted me to let go of. I didn’t want to be uncomfortable. So I shut my ears and my heart. And It grieved Him.
But He loves me so deeply and completely that He gave me a wide-open opportunity to obey him and be blessed.
I am so very grateful.
And now every day, I’m seeking out some silence… and I’m justing taking the very next baby step He puts in front of me.