When God calls us away from our daily activities, plans, ambitions and anxious thoughts, and asks us to spend some time with Him, He is really saying, “I want to be with you. What's on your mind? What's on your heart? How are things? I love you.” And He always has something for us…a word of encouragement, a word of direction or instruction, a word of affirmation, a word of correction, or maybe He simply gives us a bit more peace or a time and place to rest.
All other religions have sacred places to go to: a certain mountain, a special river, a particular temple. Only the God of the Bible takes a period of time and makes it holy. The first thing God called “holy” (which really means He set it apart as something special and sacred) is the Sabbath day, a day of rest within which we are to let go of the daily grind and refocus on Him and His goodness to us. On our Sabbaths we are to celebrate the goodness of life and the goodness of our God. As the author Abraham Herschel puts it, “The Sabbath is not just an interlude, it is the climax of living.”
Last Saturday morning 10 of us had a kind of special Sabbath together and with God. After meeting and talking about the day at the Space for God Retreat, we separated into different places to spend some solo time with God. We had expectations for meeting God in a special way but we had no idea what form that might take. In sharing at the end, we discovered that everyone truly had had a special (and very individual) connection with God.
-One person was promised that God would help him find his identity which has been difficult for him to find and accept through his life.
-Another was able to take a self-inventory with God and discern what things were toxic and what things were life-gifts to be grateful for and to encourage.
-Another recognized his need to be more intentional in his choices and to not just go with the flow.
-Another understood Psalm 23 in a new and personal way: that God’s presence always goes before her and she is never alone.
-Another recognized that God was closer to her than her breath. And He focused her eyes on a brief prism of colors in the sky, a kind of spherical rainbow, speaking of love and hope for her.
-Another experienced the cleansing of his imagination and some indescribable emotion which the Lord, he believed, would continue to make understood as he goes on.
-Another person, who normally spends time with God by talking and talking, was encouraged by Him to say nothing and just sit with Him, kind of like an old couple who know each other so well they don't even need to talk to experience closeness.
-Another realized from the verse in Isaiah that “those walking in darkness have seen a great light” inferred that God’s light is always shining brightly around us, but that circumstances or our own lack of awareness cause the darkness that we are walking in. In God’s bright light all other things, all our problems, seem very small in comparison.
-Another saw herself paddling a small rowboat on a very rough and windy ocean, struggling hard but barely able to move. God changed her picture to see herself in a sleek racing craft zipping along in the wind and waves as the Lord himself blew the wind of the Spirit into her sails.
-And yet another heard the repeated statement from God, loud and clear, five times,
"You are my son! You are my son! You are my son! You are my son! You are my son!"
Was there anything extraordinary about these people? Well yes and no: they are extraordinary in the sense that every one of God’s people is extraordinary. But no in that we are all just regular, ordinary, everyday people trying to walk out our faith in God the best ways we know how. What enables us to hear these things is giving God the TIME and SPACE to speak to us. And the good news is… He does!! I've heard it said that LOVE is really spelled T-I-M-E. Giving time and attention to our friends, our spouses, our children and yes, even to God, is like saying, “I want to make time for you. I want to hear what you have to say. I want to know you better. I love you. “
And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done. Genesis 2:3
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 146:10
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15