I spent some time at the Abbey of Gethsemani in New Haven, Kentucky. If you haven’t ever visited there, you should! I needed a few days of quiet time with God. Spending time listening and conversing with Him is a practice that I’m wanting to lean into more. The only way to discern His voice and His calling for you is to know what His voice sounds like. And you can’t do that if you don’t spend time in the practice of quiet.
I think of Psalm 42:1-4, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.
Does my soul thirst for God? How do I pour out my soul to Him? Am I doing it with shouts of joy and praise? The answers to these questions can be found when I am intentional to spending quiet time with Him.
During part of this weekend there, I used a quiet practice of “Noticing” to see how He is speaking to me. This practice is using my senses, sight, sound, taste and smell. It is truly amazing what you will notice if you are paying attention to those senses. It’s also amazing how much I take granted or just glaze over. Here are a few things that I noticed and how they enhanced my time with him.
Using my sense of sound with my eyes closed, I noticed 4-5 different bird chirps, the crackle of the leaves or grass as others around me walked past, chimes of the church bells.
Focusing in on my sense of sight, I noticed the varied shades of green as the light touches the shade, the small chipmunks scavenge for seed dropped by the birds, the tickle bees flying around me so close and a weeping willow- grand in stature shading one chair awaiting someone to come rest.
Enjoying my sense of taste, I notice the sweetness of the brown sugar and raisins in my oatmeal and creaminess of the sweet butter on my warm toast. Savoring the smoothness of the butternut squash soup and textures of the fresh asparagus, carrot, pepper and onion medley.
Embracing the sense of feelings, speaking passionately out loud to the Lord in my private place in a sea of grass with tears flowing freely. And I begin to notice Robins all around me and I wonder, why now, what is He saying to me? So I look up the meaning of the Robin. It is a symbol of hope, renewal and rebirth. And then I notice multiple sets of mourning doves, which I have never seen so many in the same location except in Central Park New York. They represent love, peace and hope.
Would I have noticed these things in my ordinary, day to day life? Honestly, probably not. I’d be in a rush, taking things for granted or not finding value in the senses that He gave me to use. I have to be intentional about using my senses or I will most definitely miss out on what He has to show me. Things such as the sound of grass under feet, a chair waiting for a sitter, the smoothness of soup and the abundance of God’s created creatures around me that symbolize exactly what I am needing.
I believe He reminded me that He is providing for me. That He wants me to find pleasure in the small and simple things, being content in the quiet and still. And He is telling me through His creation that He loves me, He is my hope and peace and renewal is coming.
Below are 10 reasons why we quit having quiet time according to an article I read called, 10 Reasons why we Quit having Quiet Time.
- We already have what we want
- We don’t like asking for help
- We only like thinking about ourselves
- We focus on people not God
- Our heart has grown hard
- Too Busy
- People pleasing
- We love being unspiritual
- We’re lazy and undisciplined
- We haven’t decided to remain a Christian
How might this list touch a cord with you? What needs to change in your heart? I know for me it has taken some deep self-reflection to get me to a point where I will admit that I lived in some of those spaces.
We have to want His love and direction enough that we are willing to self-reflect and change. Without that intentionality then we will not gain the desire that Psalm 42 speaks of.