If we want to experience God in new and profound ways, if we want him to do a work within us that is supernatural and beyond what we can personally manufacture, if we want God to use us in ways that will bring hope and change to a world in need, then we must be willing to pursue him in ways that we’ve previously not. We need to engage in more than half-hearted attempts at reading our Bible and praying. And it needs to start with addressing all of the distractions we face on a daily basis.
We live in a noisy world. A world that easily drowns out the still, small voice of God. Not because God is incapable of overcoming the noise, but because he chooses not to compete with it. He wants us to want him enough to be willing to take efforts that will turn down the noise we surround ourselves with, as well as the noise we contribute, such that we’re better able to hear and recognize his still, small voice. If we might imagine a volume dial that represented the noise in our life, God is waiting for us to work at turning it down. So he invites us into silence.
Similarly, if we could imagine a gas pedal that dealt with the pace of life that we often choose to live at, God would like to see us let up on the speed toward a slower, more intentional and sustainable level, so that we might better be able to sense his activity in our midst. Too many of us live life like we have the pedal to the metal—constantly racing from one thing to the next—and never really having the chance to be fully present or enjoy the different events of our life. The pace we set for ourselves, or that we allow others to dictate for us, often leaves little if any room for the things of God. And this includes how we might choose to fill much of our schedules with activities meant to grow and engage our faith, but because we are so consumed with doing, we are left with very little time and space to simply be—with God or with self. So God offers us Sabbath rest.
And then there are the crowds. We are rarely alone. And if we’re honest, that’s the way many of us prefer it to be. We have likely never learned to be alone, or learned the value of being alone, so we’ve grown to do whatever it takes to avoid it. We work to fill our days with opportunities to be with others, and even when we’re alone, tap into our technologies so that we can fill the silence and solitude with our digital crowds. Many of us struggle with the thought of being alone because we fail to believe that God will meet us in that quiet, lonely place, or instead we fear that indeed God might actually meet us there. God waits for us in solitude.
Finally, there’s the confusion that comes as a result of our obsession with muchness and manyness. We’ve been trained by a culture (that’s been heavily influenced by our Adversary) to believe that we are what we own or what people think of us. We have learned to equate our reputation and/or possessions with our sense of self and self-worth. We’ve become so consumed with the pursuit of muchness and manyness that we leave little (if any) room for the things of God. We might say that we want to live the With-God life, or even make good efforts toward that end, but we allow ourselves to be overly consumed with the cares and priorities of our culture. If we want more of God, then we need to be willing to live counter to much of our North American culture. We need to bring under control our obsession with muchness and manyness. We need to find a better way. God offers us the practice of simplicity.
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