June 21, 2012

Inside Out Project // Day 18

Our generation is in constant movement.  Think about it.  When was the last time you sat still for even five minutes without being in front of the TV or at the computer?  We are always going from one activity to the next.  And, we like being on the move.  Movement keeps our minds and bodies active, but it keeps us from focusing on our souls or God’s truths.  My friend, Sarah, was one of those people who always had to have her schedule filled.  She was involved in several clubs, sports, extracurricular activities and hobbies.  She told me she liked constantly being on the move, but it eventually left her exhausted and empty.

In our world of constant activity and movement, we are all suffering from a certain level of motion sickness.  We go from one thing to the next and never take any time to stop or catch our breath.  Many Christians even think that the best path to spiritual transformation is to attend every church event or Bible study every day of the week until their schedules are packed.

But, Jesus tells us that if we want to be fully transformed by Him, we need the exact opposite of what our society tells us.  If you look at Romans 12:2 from The Message paraphrase, it says that instead of fitting into the crowd without even thinking, you need to “fix your attention on God.”  The truth is that it is almost impossible to focus on anything other than the task at hand when we are constantly in motion.

Look what God says in Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)

“Be still, and know that I am God … .”

In our frantic lives, it is crucial that we stop.  Not stop to watch a movie, or visit Facebook, or even to talk to someone.  Just stop.  We are commanded to be still and to simply be in the presence of God.  No more, no less.  This is a discipline that sounds simple; but if you’ve ever tried to be still for more than a minute or so, you know it is incredibly difficult.

Christ tells us that the only way to be radically transformed from the inside out is to fix our attention on Him.  And the Bible teaches us that the first step to fixing our attention on our creator is to be still in His presence and experience a firsthand relationship with the God who made you.  You may think this is a good idea, but you don’t understand why it is so vitally important to your spiritual transformation.

The fact is that being still is the complete opposite of what our world tells us will bring fulfillment.  We are taught to want more, to move faster and maintain our momentum.  We are taught that to take a moment to pause means you are falling behind.  But in the Psalms we get a taste of the fulfillment that can be found in the stillness of God’s presence.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still water.  He restores my soul … .”
Psalm 23:2-3a (NKJV)

Let’s practice being still right now!  Mark your place in the book and set it down.  Now, take a deep breath, clear your mind and close your eyes.  Try to stay still with your eyes closed for one minute.  Think about what it means in your life to lie down in green pastures or to sit beside still waters.  Focus on Christ and the peace He wants to bring.

If you are one of those people who kept reading and didn’t take a moment to pause, then reread the last paragraph and please give it a try!  If you tried the exercise, you know that it is incredibly difficult to sit still without distractions for even a minute!

The other discipline I challenge you to implement is mindfully “shutting off” the world around you.  Set aside five minutes every morning just to be still.  You can pray if you want, but I challenge you to simply try to focus your mind on Christ and God’s character.  This is really one of the hardest challenges because it has become unnatural for us to simply be still and in silence without even a TV or MP3 player going in the background.

Ryan and Joshua Shook from the book Firsthand:  Dumping Secondhand Religion for the Real God

Release date:  March 19, 2013

Publisher:  Waterbrook/Multnomah


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