As I write this, I'm sitting down for the first time today. I have rushed home from one meeting and will head out in a short while to the next. Modern life is busy, some of it busy for work, other times busy for family and sometimes a little busy for us and maybe a little for Jesus. Busyness for some of us makes us feel wanted, needed or appreciated. We think that if we are busy we must be proving our existence. But our identity isn't found in how busy we are. Our identity is found in the God who makes us and saves us.
Resting and stopping is beautifully a core element of the Christian faith. God created us to produce, create and make but he also created us to rest, stop and breath deep. Within the Bible we get the idea of Shabbat or Sabbath calling us to rest as part of our identity. Sadly, our modern life challenges us to use this day to keep producing, being 'productive' rather than resting. Even Facebook is producing something; you’re producing your mark or impression on the world.
The church has always responded to this pressure from the world but stopping, praying and giving time to listen to God. If we keep running in the busyness of life we will be shaped by it. But if we pause and breath a different speed of life I believe this will shape us.
There is this wonderful moment in the Exodus story when God tells Moses to come up onto the mountain and stay on the mountain. It’s here that God gives Moses the two stones marked with the commandments. The English translation of the Bible doesn’t always give the full meaning of the original language and this is an example of such a case. The Hebrew word heye, which in the English translation we interpret as stay with me is in fact closer in meaning to Be. With this in mind, Exodus 24:12 should read something like, come up the mountain and be but that doesn’t make much sense in English. God tells Moses to come up the mountain and BE with him. Well isn’t that obvious God, if Moses has come up the mountain then surely he is going to BE with you. The truth of it is God knows best and he knew that he needed to tell Moses something important. God knew that once Moses arrived on the mountaintop he would already be planning his route home. He’d be making lists of jobs, people to see, birthday cards to send, bills to pay and what he was going to eat next, whereas he need to be with God in the here and now. We are all too quick to be moving on, heading someplace new and not remaining present in God’s presence. God wanted Moses to be present in his presence.
YES, BUT HOW?
We are also told that Moses would sit in the tent of meeting face to face with God. Face to face. Moses was only able to sit like this because he had invested into the relationship. This didn't happen overnight and neither does it for us. Can you take time to sit with God? Maybe face to face.
ONE: Set aside time to not go anywhere, turn off your phone, disconnect from the noise of the world. Allow yourself to hear your own heartbeat.
TWO: Take time to be present to God’s presence. We do this by letting God know we are there for Him, let Him know that we want to engage with Him. Be still and know that God is with you (whether you feel it or not).
THREE: Silence is painful for some of us because it forces us to be with ourselves. This can terrify some. If you are really struggling, put on some music that you can listen to but not sing to. It’s easy to become distracted with worship and not listen to God.
FOUR: Take a few minutes each day listening to Him; imagine Him sitting next to you. What do you think Jesus is saying? Enjoy listening to Him. You can read Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Why not take time to be present to Gods presence. Start by telling God you are there for Him, let him know that you want to engage with him. Then be still and know that God is with you if you feel it or not.