Over the last week I have been reflecting a lot on what it means to pause and rest in the presence of God. It is not a pause for refreshment because we are exhausted. The pause God calls us to is one of enjoyment and satisfaction, a rest in which we hear God’s affirmation and pleasure in us, a pause in which we hear God’s voice say: “well done good and faithful servant.” Laying aside our work and busyness to pause, focus on the presence of the living God is a wonderful way to centre our lives on the restfulness of mind and spirit that God intends for us. Brueggemann’s call to embrace a different way of life from the rat race of production and consumption is a compelling one.
Time to Reflect:
Find a quiet place to sit and focus on God. Make yourself comfortable. Take a few deep breaths in and out until you feel relaxed in the presence of God. Let go the anxieties and pressures of your week. Sit quietly, listening to the music. Relax. Say the prayer above slowly, savouring each line as you do so.
Imagine yourself relaxing in the circle of God’s love. Let it embrace you like the arms of a mother. Listen for God’s voice affirming your accomplishments and see his face smiling because of his love for you.
What is your response: What makes it difficult for you to sit relaxed in this way? What are the anxieties and pressures that surface as you try to focus on God? Does guilt or condemnation intrude and keep God at a distance? Write down your struggles. Perhaps you would like to burn the piece of paper and then imagine yourself climbing into God’s embracing presence. Or you may like to sit with your hands in your lap, palms facing upwards, imagining your anxieties and guilt being lifted from you and taken out of your hands.
Now read through the prayer again, once more savouring each line.
How does it make you feel to sit embraced by the love of God? Do you feel the soothing breath of God blowing over you? Do you feel the warmth of God’s comforting arms surrounding you? Listen for the voice of God affirming who you are and what you have done.
What is your response: Do you sense God’s pleasure and love flowing over you? Write down what you feel God is saying to you.
Now read through the prayer a third time. God is not only wanting to draw us as individuals into a place of rest and peace, God wants to draw all human kind into that rest. Remind yourself of all you have done over the last few weeks to enable others to enter God’s rest. Have you listened to the anxieties and fears of a friend? Have you reached out to those who are suffering from poverty, disease, homelessness?
What is your response: Where do you sense God’s pleasure for the ways you have reached out as a neighbour to friend or stranger? In what ways is God nudging you to be more neighbourly in the future? Write these down.
To end your time of contemplation, sit quietly again sensing that warm embrace of God, breathing in and out deeply and relaxing in the presence of God. Say the prayer one more time and finish with a prayer of gratitude and thankfulness.