Category Archives: Solitude and Silence with God
I love it when God puts the same thought in front of me from many different venues.
My devotions this morning on First15 app talk about the importance of Having Time Alone with God. Then, I’ve been working with my pastor on his sermon series for lent, which will be Come and Rest. He will be looking at how we can live today with a sense of rest, Sabbath rest, rest from sin, rest from shame, rest from worry and fear, just as Jesus needed rest while He was on earth. He needed time to be refreshed from His ministries by spending time with God. I am also reading A Year with God: Living Out the Spiritual Disciplines, by Richard J. Foster. He looks at several ways to grow in one’s relationship with God – worship, confession, meditation, solitude, and more. I am also looking at, The Furious Longing of God, by Brennan Manning, who asks: “Is your own personal prayer life characterized by the simplicity, childlike candor, boundless trust, and easy familiarly of a little one crawling up in daddy’s lap? An assured knowing that the daddy doesn’t care if the child falls asleep, starts playing with toys or even starts chatting with little friends, because the daddy knows the child has essentially chosen to be with him for that moment? Is that the spirit of your interior prayer life?” So, in a period of a week, God has been reminding me of the importance of spending TIME WITH HIM ALONE.
Some of the thoughts I’ve gleaned from these things:
- God wants me to slow down and enjoy His presence. He wants me to delight in Him. Relish being close. Even in the stillness to just sit and enjoy each other’s company. Like two friends sitting watching a sunset together.
- If Jesus needed time alone with His Heavenly Father, we can all be sure we need it even more.
Mark 1:35 – Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.
Luke 5:16 – Jesus spent time alone with His Heavenly Father.
- Time with God allows us to carry out God’s purpose in our life. Luke 4 tells of the time when Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus had been fasting and spending time with God. He taught in the synagogues and began His ministry of healing, casting out demons, and performing other miracles.
- When we spend time with God, we clearly and tangibly encounter God’s amazing love for us. We learn what His voice sounds like. We discover His will. In Matthew 6:6, we are told that our Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. One of the best gifts we receive from God is one-on-one communion with our heavenly Father.
- And time with God, fills us with His peace.
Matthew 11:28-30 Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
God’s desire to spend time alone with us is not meant to add stress to our life but to relieve us from it. He doesn’t want our time with Him to be just the routine of checking off a to-do list item.
Praying you will take time to focus on God’s nearness, on how it changes your outlook and emotions. And spend time just being overwhelmed by the depth of God’s love for you ~ Faye
Don’t you love it when God uses a variety of ways in a short amount of time to get you to focus on a specific thing?
Here’s how God’s been getting my attention, encouraging and challenging me just this week:
- Women’s Bible study we were looking at John 15 – ABIDE, DWELL, REMAIN, STAY in Jesus.
- A devotional spoke of spending intentional time with God through prayer and in His Word; just listening. It had the following quote from Mother Teresa: “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”
- Our pastor has been preaching on being WITH God, based on the book by Skye Jepthani, With. During the Advent season, he is looking at Immanuel, God With Us. (Check out his messages here).
- In working on some other Internet research, I came across this quote by Bill Hybels:
“If you lower the ambient noise of your life and listen expectantly for those whispers of God, your ears will hear them. And when you follow their lead, your world will be rocked.”
Expanding on John 15:1-17: Abiding, remaining, or dwelling is our response to Jesus’ words:
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
I appreciate the perspective/reminder of John 15:8:
“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”
I love the idea of bringing glory to God for all He has done for me. During our time with God (abiding, remaining, dwelling) we may need to submit to God’s pruning knife where He cuts away things that draw us away from Him, so we may remain in Christ even more. When we do this we are able to produce more fruit so we can bring Him even more glory.
It’s December, generally a very busy season. There are school programs, Christmas parties, gatherings with family and friends, Christmas cards and shopping for presents, baking, volunteering and serving others and so many other good things along with our regular daily activities. So, spending extra time just being with God generally is not our primary focus when there are so many other good things that are demanding our attention. I am praying that you can find some time to just BE WITH God. Remain in His presence. Dwell in His love. Abide in His peace. As you do this, you will be blessed with God’s presence in you and you will bring glory to Him. What a perfect gift for you this Christmas.
Praying you are filled with time to abide, remain and dwell with God ~ Faye
There are so many hardships, trials, pain and difficulty in life.
- Typhoon in Philippines creates horrible damage …
- Murder, abuse, assault, theft …
- A friend is waiting a week of unknown as test after test is performed …
- Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Heart Disease …
- Depression, anxiety, fear, worry …
- Separation, divorce, children in the middle …
- Abandoned children and families …
- Confusion over health care, politics, finances …
The list goes on and on. It’s hard not to spiral downward in hopelessness, worry and defeat. But Jesus reminds us of His continual love and care in Matthew 11:28:
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
It’s given with open arms ready to receive you. It is filled with unconditional love and abundant grace – Come.
The invitation is for those who are weary, tired, worn down, burned out, sad, depressed, brokenhearted, those who carry heavy burdens, great trials, overwhelming circumstances – Come.
The invitation is given by Jesus, our Lord and Savior – Come.
The promise – Rest, Calm, Peace, Serenity, Tranquility – Rest for your souls.
Take a moment to stop and breathe in that Rest.
Be filled with God’s PEACE.
Let the burden be lifted off of you as you Come and Rest with Jesus.
Praying you are filled with God’s abundant grace and rest, rest for your soul, as you Come to Him and give Him your burdens ~ Faye
What incredible beauty there is in God’s creation! In the past month, I’ve gone from enjoying His glory in a sunrise at the lake to walking through the plants at work and seeing the incredible detail on a crisp, frosty morning.
This summer due to a lot of circumstances, I have felt myself drawing away from God. After talking about it with a few precious friends, they each asked if I was getting out with my camera lately. I had to admit I haven’t. Not like I had in the past. I can come up with a list of reasons/excuses why, but really it comes down to enjoying the adrenalin of being busy helping others. When I reflect on that, I realize that I am missing so much of what I was created to do — The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. (Westminster Catechism) I have allowed myself to be so busy at work, in projects, in planning worship services, etc., that I have not had my primary focus be on giving God glory and enjoying/celebrating Him for ALL He has done.
Yesterday our minister preached from Isaiah 52 & 53 on how much our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, did for us. How He endured incredible suffering-mocked, whipped, beaten. Jesus, our Lord, bled and died for our sins. When He paid such an incredibly selfless price for each one of us, why don’t we take time to glorify God in all things? As we all heard the message we realized the depth of God’s love. From the beginning of the worship service to the end there was an incredible transformation in the people’s worship from enjoying singing about God to hearts being lifted up glorifying God in praise for the Power of the Cross.
We have so much to glorify God for from the beauty of creation to His unconditional love and abundant grace.
I grabbed my camera the day after a hard frost. Oh the joy of being blown away, being still in God’s presence and enjoying His glorious creation. When I look at pictures of God’s creation such as these, I often sing the following words, especially the second verse:Be still, for the presence of the LORD, the Holy One, is here. Come bow before Him now with reverence and fear. In Him no sin is found; we stand on holy ground. Be still, for the presence of the LORD, the Holy One, is here. Be still, for the glory of the LORD is shining all around. He burns with holy fire; with splendor He is crowned. How awesome is the sight, our radiant King of light! Be still, for the glory of the LORD
is shining all around. Be still, for the power of the LORD is moving in this place. He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister His grace. No work too hard for Him; in faith receive from Him. Be still, for the power of the LORD is moving in this place. ~David Evans © 1986, Kingsway’s Thankyou Music
The morning I took the photo of the sunrise, I was visiting friends. I was blessed to wake up before the sunrise and just wait in the peacefulness of the lake and wait for the sun to appear. There is such an incredible calm that comes during that time of waiting as the sky turns from navy blue/black to light hues of gold and the fog rolls in on the lake. It is incredible just to silently breathe in God’s presence and peace and even without words being said just glorify God for ALL He has done for us. God has blessed us abundantly with His creation, love, mercy and grace. We need to take the time to Be Still and Know that He is God!
Ever wonder WHERE God is in your life? Does He CARE? Does He KNOW what is going on? Prayers go unanswered. People betray and hurt you. Sickness affects loved ones. People die. Does it seem like God is totally absent? I’ve been there recently.
Since I’ve been in such a funk, I’ve begun taking a day away from work and daily responsibilities; a day where I spend several hours just in quiet with God. Peace. Serenity. Calm. I head to a local park. Look out at the lake. I take along my Bible, a journal and pen, and my camera. But most importantly I take an open heart ready to not only talk to God but to just sit still and listen to Him. Where is He prompting me? Guiding Me? Challenging Me? Reminding Me?
A week ago this exercise prompted the following thoughts about being a reflection of God to others through my life. I definitely had NOT been a clear reflection of God since I had been very much wrapped up in my hurts, my worries, my fears, my misery. (Misery does not love company, it just likes to fester and grow all on its own.) As I just sat and talked with God, I felt Him telling me to look closely at the reflection of the lake. A wind had just picked up and the crisp, clear reflection was lightly disturbed by the gentle breeze.
Is this what sin, misery, despair, grief, avoiding God, busyness in my life had done? Do these things disturb my reflection of God in my life? When the storms of life blow into us, where is that peaceful, clear reflection of God? As I watched, a motor boat crossed the reflection and really disturbed the serenity of the mirror image on the shore. The wake fanned out and spread, much like self-pity does. After a while, it took over most of the reflection and it took a long time before the lake returned to the mirror-like image of the shore.
I wondered – where am I in my reflection of God? I realized I had lost the shoreline. I had let every big and little disturbance create choppy waves in my life and God wasn’t being reflected through me. I was letting my worldly cares and concerns disturb God’s peace.
I was letting my feelings and self-centered pity create a disturbance in my reflection of God. I was listening to one of Joyce Meyer’s talks and heard God’s reminder, … don’t care how I FEEL. Remember – I am rooted in God’s love. His love makes me more than a conqueror. He loves me unconditionally. While I was still an enemy of the cross, He died for me and loved me anyway. God will never love me any more than He does right now at this moment.
I am not saying feelings are wrong, but I sure wasn’t remembering the core of my faith from John 3:16-17:
For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.
God loved me so much – He let His Son die for me to have eternal life. Why am I stuck in self-pity and blaming God for ignoring my life?
My faith had been in a deep battle with the devil, and I had begun to believe his lies instead of resting in God’s truth –
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. ~Hebrews 11;1
I need to continue to be fully in God’s word and presence. I need to be still and listen for His leading and guiding in my life so that I can be a true reflection of His love in my life and to those around me. I need to put on the armor of God so I can stand against Satan’s lies.
I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:12 where it says one day we will see everything clearly. In this world, “with devils filled that threatens to undo us,” we can’t fear if we are filled with God’s love, grace and truths. We won’t always understand or “FEEL” that God cares. That’ won’t happen until I am perfectly remade with God. But I do KNOW God knows and loves me always and unconditionally. Praise God!
Stay in God’s Word. Spend time not only talking to God, but taking the time to listen to what He has to say to you. Look for ways God is showing Himself to you – a call from a granddaughter, a monarch or hummingbird being provided for by God’s creation, a sunset, a song …
Praying God will fill your hearts so deeply that all you can do is be a mirror-image of His likeness ~ Faye
I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at My word. ~ Isaiah 66:2
I love the bark of these trees. They are shaggy and quiver in the gentlest breeze. They looked beautiful covered with snow the other day. Today as I was considering this verse from Isaiah, I was drawn to this photo. A simple tree seems to worship its Creator by the beauty of trembling and shedding its bark. Looking at comparisons, I realized the following: First, I too often approach God’s word without the humility of being before my Creator, trembling at being in the presence of His majesty. Second, when I am coated with God’s Word my own trembling, worrying heart is stilled by His love and grace.
This is a very simple, short verse in the Bible, but as I thought about it I wondered, Do I tremble at God’s Word? Do I read it with utmost respect and humility, ready to be changed by even the simplest words or phrases? We have all heard the simple phrase, “Be still and know that I am God.” That phrase alone can change the hearts of the busiest or most hardened person. It reminds the believer to slow down and intentionally BE in the presence of God.
I have been finding it harder to intentionally spend quality time with God. I rush through my five-minute devotional these days because of the busy schedule. I’ve been feeling these nudgings from the Holy Spirit to come back and visit God’s Word. It will give me strength, wisdom, perspective for the day if I don’t rush through the reading, but ponder and meditate on His Word. I’ve been rereading the devotional every day this week that includes this verse from Isaiah 66. I have been both encouraged and challenged in how I have taken God’s precious Word for granted.
I am too often flippantly reading the words and marking of my time with God on my mental checklist. Instead I need to remember, especially at this time of year, the abundant love God has for me that 1) He knew me before I was born and has numbered my days, 2) He has incredible plans for each and every day of my life, and most important 3) He loved me so much that He GAVE His only Son to DIE for me! He allowed His Son to suffer the depths of hell so I could receive His incredible gift of grace and be assured of eternal life.
Forgive me Lord for casually reading Your Word. Remind me of my inadequacy before You. Prick my consciousness so I am drawn back to spending time meditating and digesting Your Word for me each day. Fill me to overflowing with these precious gifts from Your hand.
May you be blessed to Tremble at His Word today.
It’s been an incredibly busy 2 weeks since I posted last. I was going to write more about Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton right away, but God seemed to have other plans. I wanted to share about Elijah’s life, but I was coming at it from the incredibly spiritual high he had just had by seeing God’s power displayed miraculously with the prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18) I couldn’t quite understand how going from that incredible experience Elijah decided to throw himself a huge pity-party and in that state of mind begged God to end his life because he was all alone. Didn’t he have the memories of God’s miraculous acts of starting fire on a water-doused altar to encourage him?
Then God had a talk with me. He reminded me of the spiritual highs, the closeness I’ve enjoyed with Him on many occasions (some even while writing for God’s Abundant Blessings). There are days I get into the mentality of “poor me”. “No one really cares about me.” “Everyone else has their own little groups.” Maybe you know the script. I hope not, because it isn’t an uplifting one. Anyway, I was in this blue funk about a month ago, and when reminded of the Elijah story, even looked at comparing myself to Elijah. But I didn’t have the incredible mountain-top experience … or did I?
This year my husband has had two heart procedures that have been slowly showing signs of improving his lifestyle, and if nothing else, at least he is still here with me. Last year my mother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer – and she is still alive and doing very well today. Through the blessing of new medicine, my rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia that once caused severe pain when I lifted the bed sheets or turned a car key to having a physically active lifestyle and minor discomfort. After two years with no job, God blessed in ways I couldn’t imagine with a seemingly perfect job for me at this stage of my life. When the hospital bills have rolled in, we celebrate God’s faithfulness for good medical insurance. The list goes on and on … I’ve been blessed by God’s presence in my life in wonderful ways this year – both big and small (seeing 5 deer this morning on my foggy walk down by the river).
So why did I find myself about a month ago crying, “Poor me”? I think Satan likes to keep us in the pits of despair so we lose our focus on all that God has blessed us with and we come complaining to God. What parent would rather hear, “I love you Mommy,” than once more hear, “Why?” or the whiny “I don’t want to do that …” I can only imagine what God thinks of me when I start my pity-party once again, instead of praising Him. What He must go through when I whine and complain instead of worship and thank Him for all He has done for me.
In Elijah’s despair, God didn’t leave him alone. He sent an angel to minister to him with food and then sent him to Horeb, the mountain of God. He went into a cave to spend the night. And God appeared to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah goes on to tell all he has done for God and then begins to whine about his troubles. But the all-knowing God knew Elijah needed to understand who God really was. He told Elijah to “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Elijah had to take that step of faith and go outside of the cave. When he did, there was a severe wind that split mountains and broke rocks, but God was not in the wind. Then came the earthquake and the fire, but God was not in either of them. Then came a gentle whisper. Elijah heard it, pulled his cloak over his face in respect and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. God wasn’t in the chaos of the wind, earthquake or fire. God wasn’t in all the chaos that surrounded Elijah. When God moved Elijah out of the cave – with his whole self – the good, the bad and the ugly (Barton) – and go out and stand on the mountain and WAIT for the presence of the Lord to pass by. Once again God asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Barton encourages us to ask ourselves, “What are you doing here, Faye [your name]?” in this time in your life? Because it wasn’t until Elijah was most vulnerable and risked exposing himself to whatever God had to show him next, that the Lord’s presence passed by. I’m not sure I’d have been willing to leave the security of the cave after seeing mountains split, rocks break, earthquake and fire. I’m glad Elijah had the faith to step out and WAIT for what God had for him. If he hadn’t taken the risk, he would have missed what God had planned for him.
For several days after my blue-funk, I spent a fair amount of time in solitude and silence (those that know me know that the silence is actually the bigger challenge) with God. When I began to ask myself the question, “What are you doing here, Faye?” I realized I was learning to intentionally refocus on God and allowing Him to fill me more than any one person – anyone else ever can. I’m grateful He took me through those days earlier this month because this weekend we had the blessing and privilege of celebrating 40 years of God’s faithfulness to our little church. From my perspective as a worship leader looking out over the congregation and seeing all the different families that came back, I reflected on God’s abundant blessings in their lives – suicide; miscarriage; loss of a spouse, parent or child; abortion; cancer; heart-disease; chronic illness or pain; job loss; financial struggles; abuse … the list goes on. But through it all, I saw and was blessed by the hearts lifted up toward God in worship. Many of these people have been on the mountain-top and the depths of despair, but they’ve learned to continue to walk with God and see where He is leading them.
These seem to be some disjointed and random thoughts, but just praying and encouraging you to take the time to let God ask you, “What are you doing here, _______?” so that you can give Him an honest answer. And praying that in that next phase, God will bless you with things you can hardly understand, things too great for you to comprehend ~ Faye
WEATHER: I don’t have to tell most of you that this country is in an extreme heat and drought situation. Living in farm country, every day the news tells us how much damage the crops are suffering because of the lack of rain. It’s easy for the untrained eye to see it as the corn stalks wither and brown in the heat. Farmers struggle to keep their hogs cooled. Gardeners usually fight Japanese Beetles this time of year are also struggling to keep their gardens watered sufficiently. It’s not “fun” to be outside, especially in the sun. And at night we can’t even enjoy a fire either because of the heat or the burn ban restrictions. When a cloud appears in the sky or there is the slightest breeze or drop in temperature our hopes soar that rain and cooler weather are coming.
NEWS: It’s very discouraging to listen to the news these days from two innocent girls missing in Iowa to the inexplicable shootings in Colorado, suicide bombers, robberies, life-altering illnesses – the list continues. We look for any glimmer of hope in the tragedies.
David was in a similar situation when he as in the wilderness of Judah. He was feeling totally drained and L-O-N-G-E-D for God’s presence. David lived a life being hunted by the king, hiding in the desert and not being able to go to the Temple to worship God. Psalm 63 describes some of that longing. David remembers that he has seen God in the sanctuary and gazed upon God’s power and glory. He praises God for His unfailing love and care.
Have you ever been in a spiritual wasteland where you are struggling for nourishment? I have. Following my husband’s heart procedure and other issues, I felt drained. I KNEW God was there caring for me and even carrying me through the tough times, but I couldn’t FEEL Him. Somehow the inner assurance seemed to have evaporated in the heat of trials. After I wrote Practice! Practice! Practice! a dear friend reminded me of a simple book that I hadn’t looked at for a while – Invitation to Solitude and Silence, by Ruth Haley Barton. I picked it up again and have been enjoying my morning time with God just BEING in His presence.
There is such a blessing that occurs from spending time with God – not on the fly as our guest pastor said Sunday; praying on the go, listening to Christian music, quickly reading a 2 minute devotional – all of which are good. But there is an importance of being thoroughly drenched and refreshed by BEING in God’s presence. Whether it is simply picking up His word and reading a verse or a portion of scripture and then just sitting there, thinking about it, thanking God for His word, listening to what He might have to say.
As much as we are physically craving rain to water the earth these days, how much more should we be thirsting, longing, craving for God to fill us spiritually?
I want to encourage you – and myself – to spend that much needed time IN God’s word, WITH Him – just BEING in His presence and letting Him minister to your needs. It’s not easy and it’s not just sitting there. It is actively waiting and listening for what God will place on your heart. Watch, pray. It’s incredible how God blesses, not only in those moments, but continues to shower you with His love, grace and care in the hours and days following your time with Him.
I thought I’d share a song from one of my favorite musicians is Fernando Ortega. He has captured Psalm 63 beautifully in O God, You are My God. I pray that you will be blessed with some time this week just BEING in God’s presence and letting the Holy Spirit fill you to overflowing so that you are spiritually refreshed and nourished ~ Faye