Let God find you seems like a strange focus for the start of a new year. Its that time of year after all when we all resolve to be better people, look after ourselves more or just plain commit to do things we have not previously had time for. Most of us know that the resolutions we make will not be kept. By the end of the month we will have forgotten, discarded or just plain ignored them.
As I have reflected on my hopes and expectations for this next year, it occurs to me that though many have the opportunity to come closer to God few of us really do. We are too busy to read scripture or practice regular spiritual disciplines, bored by worship services and surrounded by too much noise to truly hear God.
It seems to me we misinterpret much of our whole to God. and as we look ahead to the coming year I want to suggest some ways to get it right side up.
God is present at all times and in all places, so why do we talk about finding God and drawing close to God I wonder? It is more a matter of allowing God to find us and draw close to us. Adam and Eve hid behind the bushes in the garden of Eden to escape God’s presence. We hide behind busyness, noise and screen time and keep God at arm’s length sometimes, if we are honest, because we like being self centred, arrogant and angry. We don’t want to let God find us because then we might need to change.
What does it take to let God find us?
Sit in Stillness
Most of us find it hard to sit still. We are distracted by images and sounds that demand our attention and make it hard for us to focus on the God who still longs to walk with us each day. Busyness makes us feel important and in control.
New Year Resolve: set aside 5 minutes each day to sit still in the presence of God. Find a comfortable chair to sit in. Plant your feet firmly on the ground. Sit with your hands relaxed in your lap. Take some deep breaths in and out and allow the peace and patience of God to surround and fill you. Sit still for as long as you can and imagine God sitting with you and filling you with the divine presence. What thoughts and images come to mind?
Listen to the Silence
Meister Eckhart says nothing in the universe resembles God more than silence. If that is true its no wonder we have a hard time drawing close to God. Silence is very hard to find in our world today so we need to deliberated look for places and situations that speak to us of silence.
New Year Resolve: learn to identify and listen to the silence. What images come to mind when you think of silence? Perhaps it is the stillness of a dark, windless night, looking up at the stars or enjoying the tranquility in the air after a storm. Or perhaps it is the quiet in the house after everyone else has gone to bed. How could you in this coming year, harness these times as opportunities to listen to the silence that reveals the presence of God?
Rethink Your Perspectives
I am currently reading John O’Donohue’s The Four Elements. In the forward his brother Pat, talks about befriending rocks which blocked his way as he walked and allowing them to set him free onto a new path. He comments They only become obstacles if you can’t find your way around them. I love that perspective. Obstructions in our paths are not obstacles they are necessary path changers.
New Year Resolve: rethink one perspective you have about God and one perspective about yourself. Last year I established 3 new habits that have transformed my life. My mantra: begin with gratitude, focus on hope, celebrate with joy, has stood me in good stead over this year of transition. It has transformed my impressions both of God and of myself. I am sure it will continue to do so over this coming year.
Take time to prayerfully consider a word or phrase that you can use on a daily basis as an anchor for your relationship with God. Perhaps, like me you want just a few words that you can continually come back to, or if you are feeling adventurous, you might like to choose one for each month of the year.
Let God Find You and Transform You.
To let God find us we must be willing to let go of control of our lives and allow God’s nature, God’s purposes and God’s ways to permeate our being. To come out of hiding into God’s presence means to immerse ourselves in God’s love and to expose ourselves to the penetrating gaze of the One who already knows all our imperfections. It means allowing ourselves to be transformed until the image of God emerges in all its glory from within us.
Francis Thompson’s The Hound of Heaven is the most powerful poem I know that depicts our tendency to hide from God. Listen to this reading of the poem the ask yourself: What will it take to let God find me?
Take time as the new year begins to reflect on your own faith journey. How close have you God to come to you? Are there places where you are still hiding from the light of Christ? What would it take for you to come to a place of new birth where the life of Jesus shines out through you in new ways?