We pray for guidance and clarity, we ask God many questions, but we don’t always pause to shut off OUR voice, and allow God’s voice to speak.
In silence, I’ve found spiritual strength to dominate certain human tendencies which tend to fill me with anxiety. I want the world’s take on my situation; advice from friends, loved ones, co-worker, the internet, but how do I fit God’s voice in? I want God’s peace, His strength, His guidance, but I don’t let Him in. I certainly make time for everyone else, but I don’t have time for the One who will never lead be astray or abandon me.
In my Perplexed by Doing Right post, I explained that Satan was out to prove Job was a hypocrite, basically that his devotion to God would vanish if all his blessings were taken from him. Job passed this harsh test by remaining loyal to God, continuing to pray despite his agony.
Sadly, Job’s friends wrongfully judged his situation, assuming he was being penalized by God. His friend Eliphaz had a vision, a message, but he allowed his voice to interpret the dream, rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal the message in silence, this lead him to wrongfully accuse Job of hypocrisy. His voice was louder than God’s, he was more interested in his opinion than he was in listening to God.
There are certain things God has revealed to us about Himself that we should use as a barometer when assuming what God’s advice would be – answering the million dollar question of WWJD. God doesn’t seem to be One who kicks people when they are already down, yet that’s what Job’s confused friends did. That’s what we sometimes do when we play God and place the weight of judgment on the shoulders of those around us. We need to shut off our voice and let God’s voice in.
Our God is merciful, full of love, full of grace. He created all of the beautiful things we see, as well as the things we might find unpleasant – like the scariest animals, storms, etc. There are things we have the strength to overcome, like squashing a roach, and there are things that we need to steer clear from in respect or acknowledgment of their superior strength; I won’t walk into the lion’s living area at the zoo or jump into an alligator-filled lake. Spiritually, there are certain difficulties I can overcome based on my God-given strength, and there are others that I have to steer clear from because they have power over my spiritual well-being, and allow God to handle.
How centered am I in God? Would I be like Job and allow my faith to shout over the words of my friends?
In silence, I can pause and meditate on the Word of God; the written examples of how to best face the difficulties of life. Jesus frequently retreated for alone time with God. If He, who is God, needed alone time to pray, how much more silence do I need in order to listen to God’s voice and gather the strength I need to face the things sent my way?
In the face of difficulty, if feasible, we must first do nothing. We need to pause, take it in, dissect, and not react. We tend to react to protect our EGO, but I’ve found that I react best if I remove the emotions from the situation, and focus on the facts at hand. Act diplomatically, tranquility, peacefully rather than letting my emotions run loose. Do we judge more than we try to promote love? Do we believe our perspective is the correct one? Do we believe that we are unbiased in our interpretations? Do we put more energy into fighting to be understood instead of trying to understand?
I was faced with this difficult last week when I wrote Perplexed by Doing Right. Pausing was HARD! I should have retreated, walked away and dealt with the issue later – I felt the situation pushing me over the edge- but I needed/wanted to defend the situation. I had the best of intentions, but not all of the right means to get my point across. My heart sometimes gets the best of me. My sensitive nature goes into protective mode. I forget to mirror Jesus’s reaction when faced with challenging situations.
How did Jesus act when he was wrongfully accused and betrayed? How did Jesus act towards people who were excluded and filled with shame? What did Jesus do in an attempt to help people reason? How did He escape the traps set by those out to get Him?
He didn’t allow His emotions to get the best of Him, He stayed centered on His mission. He didn’t allow others to tempt Him to say or act inappropriately, even if He would’ve been justified in doing so. We read that he battled with his human weaknesses, this paved the way on how we should face our own internal turmoil. He retreated to prayer.
I need more silent moments with God.
The world is falling apart all around us, look at the examples of this weekend’s events. The world is at war, everyone wants to be heard! These catastrophes are destroying us, these are worldly issues aside from whatever we face at home. At every level we are destroying one another. We barely stand united. We barely have respect. We are ONE HUMAN RACE – yet we get caught up in all our differences to prove who is “right” in their way of thinking a situation should be handled, instead of striving to live in harmony with respect. We have enough enemies out to get us to turn on each other. We are being ripped apart at all levels.
The wars we are engaged in are repercussions of decisions made in the past, unresolved issues that resurface when we least expect it. We need to learn from these situations and apply the lessons to the basic level of our everyday life.
How are we promoting peace and serenity in our personal life? Is losing control worth the damage it’ll bring? I’ve acted and later said, “whoops.” Had I remained calm I could’ve prevented a bigger problem, now I’m in a bigger mess, and have to deal with something that I could’ve avoided. Did I push someone over the edge? Did I create a bigger mess that will pop up later? Am I spending my energy correctly, fighting the good fight? What am I doing to promote the peace we are desperately lacking and in need of? I beg the world to have peace, for all of these horrific events to stop, but I can barely master this on a minor level in my personal life.
Here’s my first step – everyday, every morning, every night before I fall asleep -I need silence with God.
Do small things with great love. – Mother Teresa
Ripple Effect – one small change can have an enormous impact.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5