“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42
Stillness (or solitude) is one of those spiritual disciplines that has been lost for many of us. We live our lives with such drive and frenetic energy it really shouldn’t be a surprise we have a tough time resting in the presence of God.
John Piper said that one of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove that prayerlessness was not from a lack of time. It’s painful to think how much I can relate to that statement. Lately, when attending meetings, I have started to watch how long it takes people to check their email or how often they do. It’s truly remarkable. If we can’t be still before one another, how can we expect to be still before God?
A few months ago, our family was bothered by how hard it was for us to do this. We were feeling a little overwhelmed and somewhat overcommitted. Between work, travel, ministry, school and kids’ activities, there was little time for much else. What we truly wanted was to settle down and rest in “silent and undisturbed union” with Christ. That’s it.
But silence is a rare commodity in our home. With 4 kids, by definition it’s never silent and I’m generally disturbed most of the time – at least that’s what my wife tells me! Yet without silence there can be no stillness. The difficulty lies in finding stillness amidst the craziness. I’m convinced it’s possible but it takes intentional and deliberate action. Jesus was very deliberate about this and frequently took time for solitude and prayer.
So at the beginning of this year, our family deemed 2013 the year of “no.” We decided that this is the year we say “no” to some good things, in order to focus on the great things. Unfortunately, society doesn’t seem to value this. Our culture makes it hard to pull back and rest. Statistics abound at how bad Americans are at taking vacation. If you desire to rest, or practice any form of moderation and temperance, you may be viewed skeptically. Or you may experience an underlying sense of guilt for not doing enough (whatever that means). Saying “no” is just difficult.
But it’s worth it. Whether you work at home, in an office, or on the mission field (perhaps especially if you are on the mission field) and no matter how crazy life may be, we all need to cultivate a stillness before our Father and rest in those periods of solitude with Him. There are no hard and fast rules. Ultimately, it’s more of an attitude. A posture. A disposition of the heart manifested in practice. And one well worth nurturing no matter who or what you have to say “no” to.