by Joy Lenton —
Resting isn’t just about stepping down or drawing back from chaotic busyness and the things which distract us from nurturing our soul life, it’s also about coming into a still, calm place where we can listen better to what God is doing in our lives and in the world. It involves a conscious tuning out in order to fully tune in to His voice.
One day I was becoming anxious about my persistent ill health preventing me from fulfilling what I saw as the calling on my life. Dropping deep into my ingratitude and frustration, I sensed God whispering these words:
“Sitting at the feet of Jesus is your calling. Everything else will flow from it.”
Wow, I thought, how deceptively simple yet profound! Here is a calling for every Christian believer. Above any other thing, we are all called to give Jesus the pre-eminence He deserves in our lives, and that’s hard to do when we’re overly stretched.
Then I wondered: What might sitting at Jesus’ feet look like? Something like this, perhaps…
• an attitude of humility, reverence, submission
• recognition of His Lordship over all things
• a soul’s prompt, obedient surrender
• a willingness to listen and learn
• a heart’s devotion, worship and praise
• a receptive mind yielding to God’s word
• a soul at rest and peace, in harmony, complete
There is great value in stillness, after all.
“Stillness is what gives stability. And it is what keeps the wheels falling off our lives” ~ Ken Gire in ‘Windows of the Soul’
The story of Mary and Martha (from Luke 10:38-42), always speaks to me. We witness Martha willingly opening her home to Jesus, though her heart was diverted away from being as receptive to His teaching as her sister Mary was, because she allowed extra busyness to distract her from achieving inner stillness.
What had Jesus come for? I think He wanted the solace of their friendship as His darkest hour drew nigh. Maybe He was not so much hungry for food and drink as for soul company, for someone to drink in His words, listen to their meaning and find their inner thirst satiated in Him.
Mary saw into His soul and answered its cry for a soul companion, while Martha saw the lean fatigue in His face and answered with food. Sadly, her distractedness caused anger and resentment to build up. Martha experienced that inner tug-of-war we all feel at times between duty and devotion.
Our souls long for peaceful contemplation and restful quietude. We scorn the need, drown it out with activities which are not necessarily wrong in themselves but which take us away from what our souls crave most.
Our inner voice is always urging us toward rest and peace, and we so often ignore its gentle persuasion. Fear of missing out, fear of being still, fear of what we’ll hear when we stop – all of these and more will hold us back from moving in that direction. Although we really do need sacred spaces in our days, because a stilled soul is an alert and receptive soul into which God will pour wisdom and instruction.
As I read the biblical account of Mary and Martha, I relate easily to Martha, because my default mode used to be fussing and fretting when wanting to organise things. However, many years of being chronically sick with M.E have altered that trait somewhat. I’ve grown used to not being a physically active, outwardly busy person and more drawn toward a contemplative frame of mind.
I actually need to be still and take enforced rest on a daily basis, because it’s best for me. But we don’t have to wait until sickness derails us in order to appreciate the benefits of stilling our body and soul before God, because you and I can quit the chaos whenever we decide to come quietly before Him. There is abundant joy, peace and solace to be found in His presence. What greater incentive do we need?