Saturday, July 6, 2013

Above The Clamor

Today in the “Jesus Calling” devotional by Sarah she writes, “Listen to Me above the clamor of voices trying to distract you.” Getting up a bit late and being thrust into the activity of the day today the voices started right away, and finding quietness has been a difficult thing to do. Granted there is nothing wrong with the voices, which is probably why it is so hard to tune them out. But at last I found the quiet for at least a few minutes.

The concept of multitasking to me is not one of doing multiple things at once, but one of being able to press a pause button momentarily in order to do some reshuffling, and then dealing with the pieces one at a time, maybe bouncing back and forth, but at least doing so with some semblance of organization and an end in mind. This may not mean dealing with them till completion but of shifting around my focus until each is dealt with to some satisfactory conclusion, even leaving some things purposely for a later time.

I can’t imagine how our God can hear all of us at once. We as humans are so limited in our ability to hear, comprehend, analyze, reshape, and respond. But God, He has no such limitations. He is infinitely capable in all of these ways. He does not have to divide His attention as we are called upon to do. And He is perfectly capable of guiding us through the most intense or confusing of times, giving us peace and direction in the greatest of turmoil. The secret for us, which it really isn't a secret, is turning our hearts and minds toward Him and away from the situations if only momentarily, but also doing so regularly so that He becomes our constant refuge.

Having said that, nothing beats those quiet moments where everything else is blocked out and it is just me and God and His Word, and on a warmer day a glass of iced tea. After thinking on a passage or an event I can close my eyes and just listen. This does not necessarily mean that I will hear God speak, but I can enjoy the calmness, the peace, and the reflection on Him and what He has done and is doing. And for me, when other voices in my mind or outside my space creep back in, then I can open my eyes again and return to His Word. This is a time when I can quietly work through the list of those people and situations for which I am praying, and a time when His Spirit helps me sort out the otherwise un-sortable.

In the last year this is probably the one area I have grown the most to appreciate. Unfortunately, like today, I can almost desire to push people away in order to get to it. For those who have children in the home I imagine this last comment as one that you can relate with, especially during the summer. And as I pushed in that direction today I was reminded, after Robin left to take the kids to buy a birthday present, that my Heavenly Father does not push me away in order to spend time with others, pointing to another benefit of these times—God redirecting our attitudes, showing me that I need to keep growing in this area with my own children—paying closer attention to them and enjoy their presence with me. They are an incredible gift from God and a reminder of our need to have a Heavenly Father who hears our every prayer and is intimately aware of our every step, even knowing the words on our tongue before they are ever formed.

The gospels record for us the importance of prayer to Jesus as He spent time with His Father. They record specifics of some of His prayers—both long and short, and they record settings—both alone and in the midst of others, quietly and out loud. He set such an example of prayer that His disciples responded by asking Him to teach them how to pray.

In Mark 1:35 we read that He prayed in seclusion and without distraction, “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.”

In Luke 9:18 we read that He was praying alone in the presence of His disciples which would seem to imply that He prayed quietly. “And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?”

And later in Luke 11:1-4, we have the disciples observing Jesus in prayer and then asking Him to show them how to pray themselves: It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” And He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. ‘Give us each day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'"

And as Jesus nears the cross we go from the intimacy of His prayer in the upper room as we read in John 17 to the intensity of His prayer that we have recorded in Luke 22:39-46.

Luke 22:39-46 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

So, lesson learned today—why was I sleeping? Get up and pray. That could and probably should have been a lesson for today, but more than that to realize even in the midst of commotion that God has gone nowhere and even then I can close my eyes and spend a few moments communing with Him in full realization that there also are those times like this afternoon when the quiet set in and I did find my quiet time with God.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (7/6)

I am your Father-God. Listen to Me! Learn what it means to be a child of the everlasting King. Your richest duty is devotion to Me. This duty is such a joyous privilege that it feels like a luxury. You tend to feel guilty about pushing back the boundaries of your life to make space for time alone with Me. The world is waiting to squeeze you into its mold and to crowd out time devoted to Me. The ways of the world have also warped your conscience, which punishes you for doing the very thing that pleases Me most: seeking My Face. Listen to Me above the clamor of voices trying to distract you. Ask My Spirit to control your mind, for He and I work in perfect harmony. Be still and attentive in My Presence. You are on holy ground.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9 (NKJV)

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:15-16

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5

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