Being Still

My daily Bible reading has been in Deuteronomy lately, and I am surprised to find myself actually enjoying what I am reading. I know I have read Deuteronomy before, but for the first time, I am underlining things and thinking about them long after my quiet time is over.

Quiet time. Well, sorta. If I can keep my mind from wandering. My mom used to say that I would get the Bible reading/prayer thing down when the time was right, and I have to admit I have done (maybe) a little better since we moved to Indiana and I have fewer distractions. But my mind still wanders, which is why I thought Phillip Yancey’s insights, which you can read here were helpful. Yancey talks about sitting in a field with no distractions other than a herd of 147 elk. After a while, he was “melded into their environment” and forgot about the pressures of outside work. That way, he could listen. I have a hard time doing that. Forgetting the outside pressures and listening for God’s voice.

Which brings me back to Deuteronomy. Moses is speaking, and the things he tells Israel do sound like he is speaking of his friend. Exodus 33:11 says that the Lord spoke to Moses as a friend. Isn’t that what we all long for? But to have that kind of closeness involves spending time in the relationship. Actually focusing on it. Sometimes I think that was easier for Moses because God appeared to him. Easier than just reading my Bible. But maybe not. The more I read of the Bible, the more I am convinced that having faith and knowing God has to do with forgetting yourself, and that is something that is hard for me to do. Like Yancey, I have brief moments when I know that I heard God, that we are “in sync.” But the moments, although I long for them, are elusive.

Maybe part of the way to get closer to God is to remember what he has done. In Deuteronomy 11, when Moses is urging the Israelites to obey, he tells them he is not talking to their children, who have not seen what God can accomplish, how God brought them out of Egypt. The children have only heard the stories. Moses is talking to the people who actually watched the Red Sea part, who were led by the pillar of fire and the cloud. It seems to me that he thinks it should be easier for them to be obedient.

That’s one of the advantages of my “maturity,” or at least it should be. I have seen, time and again, how God has taken care of me and my family. I have seen, sometimes in retrospect, that He has answered my prayers, that He has moved. He and I do have a relationship. I do value His presence. Why is it that I have such a hard time listening to Him, being obedient to His will for me?

Seeing God at work in my life should be enough for me to trust Him, to KNOW him, but in my humanity, it doesn’t always appear to be. Yancey advocates meditative prayer as a way to draw closer, but King David advocated it long before him. David’s answer was to:

“Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)

Being still is not something that is easy in today’s world. But given the benefits, that being a closer relationship with my Lord and Savior, I think it is a goal worth working toward.

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