When I was a kid, no stores were open on Sundays. Whether you were Christian or not, went to church or not, no stores were open. And we didn’t have Internet or cell phones. Yes, we had television and radio but not much of interest was programmed on Sundays.
When I was a kid, it was easier to go be alone and quiet with God, even if you didn’t know Him yet. I didn’t. Never heard of Him. Never heard of Jesus except when His name was used in vain. Didn’t think much about the cursing because it was so common. But it didn’t matter that I didn’t know God. Because He knew me. And He wooed me in chapels of forest, cathedrals of sky, pews of field, fonts of brooks, fellowship of birds, and communion with wild black raspberries warmed by the sun.
And somehow, I didn’t worship nature. I was given grace to see beyond. Something was beyond. I knew it. I felt it. I was being wooed . . . by . . . something—by Someone.
Just coming alone to the quiet, where I allowed my soul to slow, I experienced WONDER. The Wondrous One was wooing me.
In those times and places, I knew peace that passes all understanding. And I was filled by the wild. Somehow I knew I was in the hands of the holy.
We all experience the holy even when we haven’t yet learned His name.
A transcendent work of art. A soaring symphony. A dance that causes our heart to nearly leap out of our chest. A birth. A bird so perfectly painted. A sunset with tangerine-purple brushstrokes. We’re MOVED. Our heart races faster. Or maybe just the opposite. A mysterious calm washes over. Either way, we’re moved out of the ordinary. We’re moved suddenly, surely, right into the presence of the Extraordinary.
And . . . we . . . NEED . . . this.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1-2
Our souls were made for the Extraordinary and until we are filled to the full with Him, we find ourselves lacking, wanting, yearning for more. More what? Sometimes we can’t even define it.
We . . . just . . . want . . . more.
Sadly, so many today have allowed the essential to become optional. Our souls are dying for lack of filling—for lack of refreshment—for lack of LIFE. We’re starving ourselves while we’re filling ourselves with distraction. And we wonder why we’re dying.
Dying to stop the rat race. Dying for some peace and quiet. And yet . . .
We avoid peace and quiet. Why?
Because we don’t know how to be alone and quiet anymore? Because we are afraid of solitude and silence? Because solitude and silence have become so unfamiliar and the unfamiliar is frightening? Because we’re just too busy trying to do good—to BE good? Because there’s so much NEED in the world and it cries out to us for help. Like engines stuck in high gear, we go about DOING and find ourselves DYING in the process. How GOOD is that?
When I was a kid, I put myself in quiet places where I began to see and smell and hear and touch and taste the God I didn’t know—yet. And calm always came to my soul with an offer.
And I did. I stayed and soaked in. And when it was time to leave—to go back to childhood’s demands—I promised to return just as soon as I could—alone.
Before I knew God, I knew God’s truth. True life is first found in quiet and solitude where the Creator of all—the Creator of us—loves and speaks and fills.
Retreat. That’s what we need. Retreat. Not some overpacked, fill-every-minute-with-activity, women’s conference called “retreat”. I did those for years and, yes, they were FUN! I still love them because there’s nothing like going away for a weekend with soul-sister girlfriends and soaking up Scripture and relationship. But that’s not retreat.
I need retreat right now. I need retreat every day—THIS day. Today, I can feel my soul-ache. And as I sit still for a moment and ask God what I should DO, I hear in my spirit a soft whisper.
Come away with me! Let’s go for a walk.
I felt it right there in my chair.
Whoosh! Like a gentle breeze on a torrid summer day, the Whisperer invited me to join Him on a holy walk!
On slipped boots and smelly barn coat. Camera and dog as my only other companions, I stepped foot on a trail with God and sauntered slowly away. And He whispered again . . .
No need to rush. Walk slow. Let me bless you with WONDER. Open and take it all in.
Expanse of blue sky with an occasional white puff, a seagull heading east to the lake, precious yellow lab eager to run and hunt.
It started. The slowing, the filling. And then . . .
I started praying again for all those I love in so much need right now. And I heard a strange but wonderful whisper . . . .
No. Not now. You’ve done that. I have them. This time is just for us. No petitions.
But praying for people is a GOOD thing, I protested slightly.
Yes, in its time. Praying and serving and doing all missional work—these are good things. Until you start to MISS me in the MISSional. Then you need to come and know and experience this—what I want MOST is YOU. I miss YOU. I want YOU and me, walking and talking like this—going slow and sometimes not even talking. Sometimes, just basking.
I looked it up later. It means “to expose oneself to pleasant warmth–to take great satisfaction. (American Heritage Dictionary)
Yes, I like basking! I NEED basking. We all need to bask in the pleasant warmth of our God and experience great satisfaction in His presence.
Isn’t this what Jesus was telling Martha about Mary? Wasn’t he issuing a holy invitation to bask—to stop serving for once and just bask? Didn’t he know her heart’s desire that she wouldn’t let herself know? That she wouldn’t let herself experience?
We scurry about like human hamsters on a wheel, getting nowhere but exhausted. And we do it for love? Do I over-serve and under-feed my soul because of love?
No. I still haven’t fully grasped that God wants ME first—all of me—intimacy with ME—before He wants good works. Deep down, don’t we all over-serve out of fear? Fear we’re not GOOD enough, we don’t DO enough, we’re not PLEASING enough.
When we run out and run down and run dry, we need to say “Enough.”
And even before. I need to know and honor my need for quiet and solitude and just plain BEING with God and ENJOYING His presence, even when we’re not talking. Can we allow ourselves?
This is no luxury. This is necessity.
We were created for this connection with the Holy. No wonder we wither and die without.
Can you hear His invitation this day?
He’s to be found in the whisper, in the gentle breeze of holy wooing . . .
Come away with Me. Be alone with Me. And you will find rest for your soul.
Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:15-16.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42