In my quest find healing and recovery from depression and relief from my Fibromyalgia symptoms, I seemingly exhausted every option available to man. I was willing to do and pay whatever it took to get well, even to the point of taking money out of my retirement savings to finance my pursuit of health and wholeness. I hunted for the right people to treat me – people I felt comfortable with and who validated and acknowledged that my illnesses were real and not a case of “complainer’s disease”.
Before I recognized how ridiculous all of this running around to the various doctors and appointments was, I made myself crazy driving all over Southern California. At one point, I was regularly seeing a rheumatologist, a hematologist, a physical therapist, a counselor, a psychiatrist, a naturopathic doctor and an acupuncturist. Needless to say, all of these appointments made it nearly impossible to get anything else accomplished! And the increase in my stress level largely negated any benefit I was getting from the various treatments.
In a situation where so many paths are open, discernment and wisdom are paramount. Praise God that He guides and directs us not only with regard to right and wrong but also with our decisions on other matters! In all of my running around to the numerous health care providers, I was doing myself more harm than good. I knew I needed calm from the outside storm, and in the quiet of my heart I felt the Lord beckoning me to listen to Him. I prayed and asked God which paths I should continue to pursue and which ones were not for me.
The Bible says, “A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth” (Proverbs 17:24). When I find myself chasing all kinds of rabbit trails, Scripture reminds me that the Lord will help me be wise if I seek His knowledge:
The discerning heart seeks knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly. (Proverbs 15:14; New International Version)
My husband and I often complain to each other that we haven’t heard from God with specific direction on a specific matter. But the reality is that God is always leading us, so how do we actually hear from the Lord after praying for direction? The Bible teaches us how important it is to get still and quiet with God. I’m amazed at how my non-Christian friends in recovery understand this principle: To receive God’s guidance, one must retreat from the hustle and bustle of the daily routine to commune with Him and listen. So often I mistakenly believe the Lord will speak to me in a loud voice that drowns out all other noise. When I don’t know what God’s will is, I pray for Him to reveal it by proverbially “hitting me with a 2×4”. But the Bible demonstrates that this is generally not the way He wants to communicate with me, especially when my relationship with the Lord grows more intimate when I carve out time to fellowship with Him and earnestly seek His heart to the exclusion of all else.
God often gently whispers to those who listen quietly and humbly for his guidance. The Biblical prophet Elijah felt lonely and discouraged because he thought he was the last of God’s true followers, so he went to Mount Horeb seeking the Lord’s counsel. The Lord told Elijah to “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by” (1 Kings 19:11). 1 Kings 19 teaches us that although God sometimes reveals Himself through miracles and demonstrations of power, He may also choose to speak to us in the quiet of our hearts:
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19:11-12; emphasis mine)
Elijah did not hear God in the wind, the earthquake or the fire. Instead, he recognized God’s “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12; King James Version), for “When Elijah heard it [the gentle whisper], he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave” (1 Kings 19:13) in acknowledgment of the Lord’s presence.
Why do so many of us find it difficult to be still and quiet with God? What prevents us from making individual fellowship with the Lord a priority? Many people point to busyness as the culprit. But if we really search our hearts, many of us are just afraid to get quiet with the Lord. What if in my quiet time the Holy Spirit convicts me of something He wants me to repent of? What if I want to continue in my sin and plead ignorance? What if the answer to my prayer is not the answer I want? What if God tells me to do something I don’t want to do, or to not do something I want to do?
In modern day society, it’s many times easier to distract ourselves with trivial activity so that we don’t have to feel our feelings. We run from God instead of allowing Him access to our brokenness when doing so results in the very healing we so desperately need. Perhaps we would rather not undergo the self-examination that reveals our flaws, insecurities, impure motivations and temptations even though confessing our weaknesses allows God to infuse us with His power which is “made perfect in weakness” (1 Corinthians 12:9).
Jesus was extremely busy with His ministry on Earth, yet even our Savior made time to be alone with the Father. In between teaching and healing the people, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). The day before He chose the 12 disciples, Jesus “went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” (Luke 6:12). Jesus’s example shows us that busyness is not an acceptable excuse for failing to take time to be still and listen for God’s voice:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35)
Sometimes I find it very challenging to wake up early enough to sit at the Lord’s feet, but my day always suffers when I miss this time. I get more caught up in worldly matters, my priorities get totally messed up, and I don’t enjoy the same peace and serenity I have on the days I seek God first. Conversely, on the days I spend quiet time in the Lord’s presence I focus better, I experience less worry and anxiety through the day, and I am less wrapped up in myself. Clearly, there are practical reasons to make praying in solitude a regular practice. Scripture promises us that as we nurture our relationship with the Lord, He draws closer to us: “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8).
Beloved Warriors, our commander-in-chief longs for relationship with us! He wants to speak to us if we will only be still and listen. I pray that, despite the busyness and activity of our lives, we would find the desire and the willingness to carve out time to be still and quiet before our God, allowing Him to speak into our hearts.
Enjoy this beautiful song by Francesca Battistelli!