In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
~ THE SOVEREIGN Lord in Isaiah 30:15
The above scripture leads off the 11th chapter from Surfing for God, Less is More. Resting in silence is strenuous work for most of us.
I must admit that I enjoy sitting in silence, especially outdoors. I must also confess that at other times I can addictively check my phone. I know that some of this checking is spurred on by my choosing to disengage from the present troubling thought or emotion. Here is what MIchael says,
It seems odd to say that we are averse to being with ourselves, much less God. But we have become, as Kierkegaard said, tranquilized by the trivial. When the tranquilizer wears off and the analgesics of busyness and distraction lie beyond our reach, we have no option but to face our inner worlds. In the twenty-first century there is no task more difficult, no spiritual discipline more painful, than learning to be still. But there is none more rewarding.
How is being still for you? Every seventh day of these 444 we offer a sabbath reflection. Do you read them and rest in them, finding a way to spend time in stillness or unhurried relationship? Or do you ignore them and get on to surfing the web or checking your texts?
Michael wants to be blunt with you,
Let's be blunt. If you are going to seriously address your issue with porn and lust, you must come to terms with the restlessness and turmoil in your soul. The feelings and experiences within you are manifestations of your brokenness. Where there is chaos, anxiety, tension, loneliness, disappointment, sadness, shame, drivenness, dividedness--whatever it may be--brokenness is calling you. Calling you to pay attention to it. And only after you have paid attention to it, to yield it to God.
So being still is tough because all your junk comes up.
Once I prescribed some solitude for a client. He had significant struggles sexually. He took a drive to a serene place to sit and journal. During the time of solitude he ended up masturbating. His shame skyrocketed. When trying to connect with God he resorted to acting out and he felt weak and defective because of it. But if we go back to the quote above it is understandable why that temptation was there for him to masturbate. As he sat still, all that was inside, usually covered up by busyness or addiction, had the chance to move more into the open bringing anxiety with it. Be aware of this as you begin to test the quiet waters of solitude. You aren't defective, you're healing.
So to begin, own your emptiness and brokenness. Then what? I went to a conference a few years ago. The speaker mentioned having a small time for spiritual disciplines daily. He said that if you don't make time for this small time daily there is usually a more abrupt, larger discipline somewhere down the line. Like the revelation of an affair. Michael says he likes to think of spiritual disciplines (I like James Bryan Smith's term of soul training) as, "...a way of allowing God to grasp me. They help me create a space in my life to be attentive to the life within, so I can hear His voice."
Solitude and silence. Listening for the divine. Hang out with God and begin to trust that he wants to hang out with you. He likes you. Really likes you. And that truth, at first, can feel like a boulder to hoist. As time goes on, the fact that God likes you will be like helium, bringing a weightless joy to your soul.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
The unforced rhythms of grace...live freely and lightly. I'm drawn to that. How about you?
James Bryan Smith, knowing that silence and solitude are tough for most people, recommends only a minimum of five minutes to start. And, he says, it's ok if you have your favorite morning beverage as you sit quietly to be with God.
Silence and solitude will lead you to what Michael calls your inner sanctuary. He says, "If you're a follower of Christ, you are the dwelling place of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit...God dwells at the center of your being. You are His temple, and through Christ, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dwell in you."
Ann and I met with a couple when we were in Colorado. He was a hard charging, ambitious man. The trouble was his wife felt totally missed in all his franticness and striving. She was frustrated at being ignored. He eventually failed miserably in his endeavor. He was confused on how to deal with it all. We talked some about silence and solitude. He didn't connect with it.
One day he went for a hike in the Rocky Mountain foothills. As happens in Colorado summer afternoons, a storm rolled in. He was caught unaware. To escape the lightening, wind and rain he said he found a cleft in the rock to duck into. There was a forced time of stillness for him while he was there. During the time of protection from the storm a sense of peace was awakened in his soul. In the silence and solitude he connected with God. The man told us, "I'll never forget that cleft in the rock by Boulder." It represented for him a cleft, an opening, to the center of his soul where peace and contentment are found.
Allow God to grasp you.