Not too long ago, my eldest son asked me while I was standing near him, “You can never just stand still, can you?” It was then I realized that, though my feet were firmly planted, the rest of me had been moving. I had been kind of swaying back and forth while talking with him. I answered him, “Nope! I guess not.” We laughed about it, but it got me to thinking. Can I stand still? I really can’t. I try. I have to focus all of my energy on standing still. During group prayer, while we are standing, holding hands at Bible study, I have to tell myself, “Be still. Don’t move.” And then I come to the realization that I’m not thinking about God, but about me. And then I feel guilty. It’s a conundrum.
I came to the Lord over twenty years ago. I was twenty-three at the time. I knew I was broken and desperately needed Him. And so, bit by bit over the last twenty-plus years, He has been refining me, making me resemble more of Him and less of me as I grow closer with Him. And yet there is still so much work to do!!
One of my greatest struggles, ever since walking down the aisle at that church service, tears freely flowing as I felt for the first time that God not only knew me, but He actually LOVED me (wow!!), has been “quiet time.” I love–no–I ADORE the idea of “quiet time” with the Lord. I envision me sitting at a table in a sun-filled room, with no sound at all but the sound of the pages of my Bible turning, and maybe some birds singing a melody that I can faintly hear. I can see my peaceful, calm self just basking in what the Lord has to tell me. I know I SHOULD have a quiet time every single day–and that my walk with the Lord will be better, stronger, if I do. And yet, for all of these years…for all of my good intentions…I have never been consistent with a quiet time. I have tried, I have created a “prayer room” that eventually gets filled up with junk but no actual prayer happens in that space. I look at my friends and think, “They probably have this quiet time thing all figured out. I wish I could do it.” And then, inevitably, I feel like a failure. I feel “less than”.
And so it went until a few weeks ago. A friend needed prayer about something. And I told her I would pray. I learned somewhere along this journey with the Lord that if I don’t pray right when I think about it, I’ll forget. I happened on that day to be in the kitchen, doing dishes when I received her text. So I stood by the sink, dish towel in hand, and closed my eyes and prayed. The radio was on, the kids were in the next room watching tv, playing rather loudly. And I prayed.
Before I even realized what I was doing, I opened my eyes and began walking around, praying aloud to my God who created not only this entire world, but strange, weird ME. I cried out to Him as I sidestepped the video game someone forgot to put away and shushed the yipping dog. I felt Him there as I made the circle around the dining room table and headed back by the stove to put something away I noticed on the counter. I kept talking with Him and then a weird, wonderful thing happened. He spoke to me. I was quiet for the briefest of moments and I could feel in the deepest part of me Him speak. What did He tell me? What did the God of all creation tell this woman who has been struggling against herself for oh so long? What were the words He gave me in that moment that brought me to utter devotion and worhip of Him–and made the tears fall as freely as they did on that fateful day so very long ago when I first came to the end of myself and the beginning of Him?
“I created you. I formed you. All of you. I made you to be this way. And you were never created to be still. It’s not who you are. I created you to move.”
Psalm 139 came to mind, “For You formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are your works, And my soul knows it very well.” He Himself knitted me together. Whoa. He Himself decided what I would be–both my physical appearance as well as what makes me…well, ME. And He has said that what I am was fearfully and wonderfully made. WOW.
For the first time ever, I didn’t feel “less than” in my lack of stillness. I could no more be still than I could get rid of my freckles, or change my blue eyes to brown. If I struggle not fidgeting for more than sixty seconds at at time, what makes me think I could be still and quiet in the way that others are still and quiet? He knows me. He knows me better than I know myself. He knows the struggles that take place inside this weird, strange brain of mine. And He can speak to me in a way that I will hear, because He knows what will break through–even in the loudest of rooms, even with seeming chaos all around. He knows I don’t need quiet to talk to Him, or to hear Him.
Then He lovingly reminded me of all of the times I had cried out to Him over the years and really felt His presence in the midst of trials, of day to day drudgery, of circumstances both good and bad. I realized every single time, I was not still and not very quiet. And yet He was there. He was there because He is my loving Father. Just as I am there for my boys in very different ways, He is there for us. He created each and every one of us, and only He truly knows how to speak to us, and how we can best approach Him. Who am I to question His creation, His design?
And so on that day I continued my time with Him, talking with Him (moving around my kitchen the entire time) and realizing as I was praying for my friend, just what I was being led to pray. I was not at all surprised when she shared with me later that she was led to pray for a resolution in the exact same way I was led to pray for it. I was humbled, overwhelmed that He spoke to me; but not at all surprised.
God created us to know Him. He created us to desire Him, to want to talk with Him. He created all of us uniquely. And he created all of us to be in unique relationship with Him. He’s awesome like that. I was reminded of the many ways that Jesus interacted with people while He walked this earth. No two were alike.
Set apart times are wonderful. But they are not the only time, or the only way to talk with our Lord.
I will praise Him all the more for that blessing.
Does this mean I don’t strive to set apart time for fellowship with Him? No. But it means that I don’t have to be perfectly still when I do. It means my “quiet time” with God isn’t your “quiet time” with Him. It means I can extend myself a little grace in this process of refinement. And it means that I can throw out that picture in my head of what quiet time looks like, and let Him show me what our quiet time is supposed to be.
So, no Son. I cannot stand still. I never could and I never will.