Well, we are about 7 months into our ‘new normal’. I’m not sure how you have been finding this season but for me it’s definitely had its moments of challenge but also many silver linings.
I’ve been on staff at Hillsong with our Creative Dept for the last 14 yrs so pre-Covid much of my normal week consisted of meetings / planning events / strategizing about weekend service s/staff meeting / creative team night / weekend services / sisterhood / etc. I spent A LOT of time at church or thinking about church!
I count that an honour and long for the day when being a part of those things can be my normal again.
Thinking about church… planning church… experiencing church… all of those things are great and can add to my relationship with God. But they can also create this illusion of closeness that’s not necessarily there. I can be ‘hearing about God’, ‘talking about God’, ‘doing things for God’, and feel like that equates to being with God. Me spending my own personal time with God is a different thing all together. Learning about God through someone else’s revelation is a gift but nothing compares to God’s voice speaking into my own life.
So in this season I’ve been on a exploration and pursuit of what my relationship with Jesus actually looks like. Just He and I.
What does it look like?
When do I make space for Him?
When do I listen for Him?
How do I spend time with Him?
What is He saying to me?
Don’t get me wrong. I am a part of online church every Sunday! I position church in my day. That’s a priority and a good habit. Staying connected is important. Being a part of community and leaning in matters. Listening to messages and engaging in worship is good for me! But those few hours on a Sunday are part of building my relationship with God rather than the sum total.
Worship in church gatherings is where I would often hear from God. I would hear His voice really clearly in that space. I was used to hearing Him speak in that environment. I have had some of the most incredible encounters with God during conferences. Times that truly marked me. Well, it doesn’t look like I’m going to a conference any time soon and at the moment I’m not able to physically gather with my church in worship. But that doesn’t mean that God wants to speak any less. So I’ve had to carve out new spaces and make sure I’m making room for Him.
I’ve started doing a new type of devotional (which, true confessions, I’ve never been great at). It’s pretty structured (although I am not) but I am really enjoying it! It’s called ‘Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day’ by Peter Scazzero.
The whole idea is to help me pay attention to God though out my entire day by intentionally stopping to be with Him and by learning to practice His presence in my life.
The premise of the book is the spiritual discipline of The Daily Office. Often in my quiet times I am looking to God to ‘fill me up’; or get what I need. I find that I could spend most of my time talking but God but not waiting for Him to speak. The goal of this is that rather than turning to God to get something, we are turning to God to be with Him. This is the structure the book follows…
STILLNESS & SILENCE
A QUESTION TO CONSIDER
STILLNESS AND SILENCE
Twice a day; morning and night, or whatever works for you. The idea is that sitting in silence and just being with God is a skill you can develop. Your listening-to-God muscles can grow and expand.
So this is what I’ve been doing and it’s been working for me! You might be reading this and think that sounds like the worst thing ever and that’s totally fine! You’ve got to find what works for you. The point is being with Jesus can be so much more than a quick add-on in our day.
It can be the main thing.
If you haven’t read your Bible in ages, no condemnation. As Christians sometimes we beat ourselves up about what our devotional life has to look like. I don’t believe there is one particular way or certain amount of time that equals devotion.
I would suggest to just think about how you could take a step toward God every day.
The Word says if you draw near to Him He will draw near to you (James 4:8).
So what could that drawing near look like for you?
This season has been a great revealer and for that I am grateful. If I had not stopped my regular routine and payed more attention to this, I wonder if I would ever have noticed how much more my relationship with Jesus could be.
Since I’ve started doing this I haven’t heard God speak to me in an audible voice or had some crazy experience but I can say that I look forward to this time each day. It’s become something I want to do instead of something I feel I have to. And ‘the secret place’…quiet place…whatever you want to call it… is cool because it’s ours. It’s just me and God.
I believe we are as close as we want to be. God is waiting to be found by us.
My prayer for you is that your relationship with God would be deep and close and alive. And that when the day comes that we gather together again in our beautiful churches, we wouldn’t discover a group of people that didn’t know what to do without church or how to find God for themselves. I pray we would find a people who carved out new space with God; who pursued and sought Him, who learned to tune their hearts and ears to His voice and became familiar with His presence in the most beautiful way. Let’s continue to discover more of Him. We can never know Him enough.