About a decade ago, I was a participant in a nine month journey of spiritual formation. These kinds of programs can often have a reputation for becoming “navel gazing,” but I believe the opportunity for contemplation and revelation are a gift beyond measure. If you’re interested, the program is called Theodyssey. I promise you, it can be life-changing.
The first few times were an incredible struggle as I wrestled with my mental octopus of a brain. I have long suspected that I struggle with Low Latent Inhibition – where my senses are overwhelmed by everything my senses take in. Sounds, sights, touch, smells… and every detail carries equal weight. Grateful for my nearsightedness, I often remove my glasses so that things seem more “quiet” in my head.
Imagine my relief as I slowly became able to tune the world out and focus on God even for as little as a minute at a time. My effort was rewarded not only by a gift of peace, but also by revelation that I believe came directly from God. Why on earth would He want to give a goofball like me any attention? His love is truly unfathomable.
One afternoon, I was engaged in this silent prayer, hanging out with Jesus. Sometimes I picture him sitting on the couch casually, arms over the back cushions, grinning. I know I’m projecting because his mood always seems to match mine.
The insight He was giving me helped me to see something very important. I tried to describe the sensation at a gathering of fellow spiritual formation sojourners. Our navigator, Super Cool Dave Smith (this guy is amazing and would hate that I’m complimenting him in any way, therefore I restrict my praise to Super Cool) asked me to describe my emotions as I felt how small I was. Tears came to my eyes, something I tried very hard to avoid, and I answered.
Why? Because as a person who had a lifetime of not being able to rely on those around me, I had become very, very self-sufficient. I had also developed something of a hero complex, trying to right every wrong so I could re-write my own life.
What a relief it was to realize that not everything was on my shoulders. My goodness I was carrying a lot, but God showed me that His shoulders are much larger and that He was much more capable of carrying the load. What a beautiful gift to receive for just a few moments listening for His message to me in a tiny space I had created, in silent prayer.
We often think of prayer in the way some of us were taught as a child: God bless mommy, God bless daddy, thank you for this food, please help Grandma get well. Intercessory prayer often is the only kind of prayer we know. It’s a never-ending stream of things we would like God to do for us. Imagine having a relationship like that with a spouse.
“Please take out the trash. Please keep us safe. Thank you for the rolls. Please make me feel better from this cold I have.” Amen. Walk away until you have a new list of wants.
That’s not a relationship, is it? And our Father does want a relationship with us. Don’t be intimidated by that. It starts with making space for Him in your life with silent prayer.
As I trained my mind to shut the heck up for a few minutes, I started to feel – well, I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s something that impacts four of my five senses.
- It’s like the hush that comes over a room when a speaker steps up to the podium. Or the silence in a home when the power goes out and the noise from refrigerators, clocks, TVs is suddenly absent.
- It’s like realizing you’re neither hot nor cold, and your body relaxes as a sense of heaviness falls on shoulders. A tensed forehead relaxes and a small smile un-purses lips.
- It’s like closing your eyes and realizing everything that needs to be seen is inside you. Sometimes your vision behind closed eyes is a pure white light.
- Once, it was like incense was burning in the room.
And every time it’s as if something inside of me – my heart? my soul? – is swelling and rising up to meet God. The peace of it is breathtaking. I have prayed that God would bless the entire world with this feeling, so that every person would turn to Him with eagerness.
But, in order for that to happen to someone, they must make space for God.
I’m just as guilty of not making space as anyone. When I first wake up in the morning, I reach for my alarm, which is my phone. And then I check messages. And then I check email. And then I check social media. Each of these things fills my head with noise.
Sometimes, if I don’t have anything pressing, I’ll make a cup of coffee and sip it while my feet are under the covers again. Doggie by my side on the bed, sun streaming through the window, it’s a perfect time to get quiet.
Today was one of those days, and God’s peace flooded me and I found myself filled with forgiveness, joy, compassion, and gratitude. I was overwhelmed by God’s perfect love and prayed that others could feel what I felt in that moment. I pleaded with Him and told Him that if only people could feel what I felt in that moment, they would run to Him. Could He please find a way to make them see, even if they are not actively seeking Him? How would they know what they’re missing if He didn’t show them? He replied to me.
You tell them.
What? Me? How?
I haven’t written much on my blog lately. I haven’t made much space for it and it was such a long dry spell, that I believed my blog was complete. Apparently not.
Here’s what I’ll leave you with:
I think moments like these are not only a gift to God, but are also a gift to your soul.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing
Eyes up! Our redemption draws nigh.