In the seminar Living in Christ’s Presence by Dallas Willard and John Ortberg, available on Christianaudio the speakers point out that information alone is not enough to transform your life.
Over the past few weeks I’ve presented some information about cultivating a quiet heart. The first week I discussed how to begin to schedule times of quiet. The following week I pointed out some of the reasons we unknowingly allow busyness to control our lives. Though I include some practical tips on both posts, for the most part those articles contain information that will not be valuable unless you are able to put it into practice.
I may have awakened in you the desire to become less busy, or the desire to have more quiet space before the Lord. Perhaps you felt a twinge of guilt and you have resolved to change. But your resolve will be to no avail if you simply try to change by an act of your willpower alone. Instead you must change the way you think.
On my own journey of developing a quiet heart I have become more aware of how my past, how my theological training and how the culture has influenced my own thinking and become part of my own automatic reactions. My thinking warred against my desire for a quiet heart.
As I write in Beyond Head Knowledge, I was brought up steeped in Christianity. I equated my faith with the works I could produce. If my heart was anxious or ‘disquieted’ I would try to read the Bible more, to witness more and to serve in more capacities. I assumed that these this would automatically bring the peace I desired. But none of them were focused on the source of supply who is Christ Himself.A quiet heart is a result of relationship with the One who made you. Click To Tweet
My first introduction to this discipline of having a quiet heart was Ruth Haley Barton’s book Invitation to Silence and Solitude. She writes about setting aside time to just be with Him – not to do devotions – not to carry out a religious practice – but simply because you want to be with Him. I began to plan times in my life to go to quiet places to just sit in His presence, but many thoughts would come into my mind in the process.
Thoughts like, “You are wasting your time.”
“You could be doing something productive.”
“You have responsibilities at home that you should be taking care of right now.”
You could say that these thoughts were planted there by the devil because he is the accuser of the brethren. Though I know he would happily take credit for them I believe that these thoughts were a direct result of what I truly thought about myself.
My identity was wrapped up in what I did or what I accomplished. I worked to please God and others. I had heard so many teachings about being faithful to serve the Lord and to serve your family that these teachings had become more of a focus than the relationship.
More recently I have had a respite from serving in the local church as God called our family to a new church last fall. I knew the Lord was telling me not to jump into serving right away, but that I needed to just spend time close to Him. But my thoughts condemned me, saying that I was wasting my gifts and calling.
For all of you, as you begin the journey toward developing a quiet heart you will find that your thoughts will try to keep you from entering this place of rest. Fight the battle for your mind. Take these thoughts captive. Use the exercise below to help you in this process.
Life Coach Moment
Write down the thoughts that try to pull you from a place of quietness.
Can you pinpoint the root of these thoughts? The root could be a lack of self-worth as a child that led you to find self-worth in doing things. The root could be a faulty view of God who is a good Father. The root could be a teaching that you heard in church which led you to believe that your acts of service for God were more important than your relationship.
Dallas Willard says that “if you want to change find out where your action comes from.” Your action is that your schedule is overfull. Most of the time this action occurs automatically because you have not proactively chosen to cultivate a quieter heart. (Sometimes there are circumstances which max out our schedule. Earlier this month I spent hours everyday at the hospital with my dad, Walt. His illness was not something I could plan my schedule around, so I had to relinquish my scheduled times of margin and that’s ok).
Renew Your Mind in Truth
If you have lived most of your life busy, over scheduled and lacking rest it will take time for you to restructure your life and thoughts because the pathways of your brain have come to automatically believe that a busy heart is good and normal. It takes work to train your mind to think a different way, but it is possible. God says in Romans 12:2 to renew your mind
Meditate on Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Waiting is a form of resting- of quieting our hearts and putting our trust in God. In your times of quiet take courage and wait for Him. Wait in His presence. Enjoy it.
It is good and pleasing to God for me to spend time in His Presence.
Thank You Father that I am not what I do. I want to find peace in Your presence but often my thoughts pull me away. Help me to recognize the thoughts that are keeping me from the rest I long to find in You. Thank You that You are my peace as I draw near to You. Amen.
This month we are offering a giveaway of Dr. Saundra Dalton’s new book Sacred Rest and a quiet time journal to encourage you on your journey of developing a quiet heart.
And if you like to send greeting cards check out our library of printable cards
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