Internal stillness takes practice. It is the fruit of hiddenness — a life that’s lived looking at God, a life of wonder in Him — and it needs to be cultivated. Sara Hagerty, Unseen
Do you ever feel tempted to make your relationship with God about appearances or productivity?
It can sometimes happen unknowingly, and the mindset shift can be stealthy. It sometimes happens under the guise of church activity or mentorship, even bible study and service.
God continues to bring the story of Mary and Martha in Luke to my mind.
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Martha, perhaps busying herself with tasks she had deemed more important than gazing at Jesus. She might have even had that internal warring going on many of us can relate to: so many people in my home, it needs to be clean…. I need to appear productive and making things happen…. I wonder what that person is thinking about me… These things need to be done first, then I’ll listen to Jesus.
Can you relate?
The tendency to believe the lie that work done for God is more important than my friendship with and love for Him.
But I think a greater truth is that our unseen time with Him is what makes all the difference.
Our exchange of words, His Truth and my worship, hidden from the eyes of others, needs to be my most precious thing.
In Sara’s book (in which I basically highlighted every paragraph), she also makes this statement. My soul was cartwheeling in agreement.
Meeting Him required quieting my insides enough to hear and respond. The kind of dialogue I was learning to have with God burgeoned when I saw it as an exchange — my mind for His thoughts, my fear for His assurance, my whispers for His response.
My insides have been a little chaotic lately.
But Holy Spirit is changing how I think about my friendship with God. My private life with Him, the exchange I have with Him every minute of every day, should be my priority.
When my soul’s focus is on human approval, or getting everything perfectly clean or organized, or the pressure of being everyone’s cheerleader 24/7, or serving on every team until I’m burned out, I miss out.
When my soul’s eye remains fixed on Him, on what He thinks about me or about a circumstance I find myself in, there I find real joy, real rest, real change, real Jesus.
When I prioritize our time together, I am filled to the brim with fruit of His Spirit, not fighting (a.k.a exhausting myself) to maintain high spiritual levels.
When I look at any situation — staff meeting, cooking dinner, driving around town — as a chance to encounter Him, this is how I dig deeper the roots of my spiritual growth.
I once wondered why I struggled to live this reality, but now I think it’s because I didn’t fully grasp the beauty in my unseen time with Him being the most important thing in life.
It’s our private life with God that overflows to incredible Kingdom impact, not our focus on how well we’re doing.
I can sometimes fall into that trap: gauging my strength level, joy level, knowledge level.
A life of abiding in Jesus in one of complete, utter, beautiful, freeing dependence on Him.
Leaning into His Spirit who is closer to you than any other person.
Charles Stanley, in his book The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life, talks about how we simply bear (or wear, as I like to think of it) fruit, we don’t produce it. We aren’t told in the Bible to imitate Holy Spirit’s deeds, but His fruit. And His fruit is produced from an active, intimate, friendship relationship with Him. He produces it, we bear it.
The Trinity is all about community, togetherness, union, right? Before God spoke our world into existence, it was only the Three: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
If we want to bear the fruit of God, if we want to actually develop His qualities, we should start with an almost secret (and sacred) habit of conversing with and gazing at Him.
In that space and time, I believe will come amazing things.
Let’s be real, it will definitely take practice, an intentional turning from other distractions, frequently, but I wholeheartedly believe it’s worth it.
Practical ways might be not turning to social media before you go to sleep or while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office or at a stoplight, but choosing a Psalm to meditate on.
It might be singing worship songs while you get ready in the morning, or researching the names of God and meditating on one per week.
It might be going for a walk or run without music, opting for nature sounds and praying for friends/neighbors.
It is amazing how clear things become when we are still before Him, not complaining, not insisting on quick answers, only seeking to hear His word in the stillness, and to see things in His light. Elisabeth Elliot