This is a good day. I can’t believe I have the privilege to be a part of what the Lord is doing among thousands of precious people who are rejected and lonely and hurting. Every day I hear testimonies of how our brothers and sisters are serving these people in the name of Christ. I am grateful for this life I live.
Lately I’ve been thinking about Psalm 131:1–2 (NIV): “My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.”
But how do we walk and enter into this kind of life, the life of a different world—so different than the one we see around us? I’m struggling to learn the reality of what I’m sharing here. This kind of life is not something any of us can achieve overnight; we all are on this journey.
The life of God, who is Spirit, can be understood in our spirit. Great intellectual, brilliant speakers and scholars will reach the minds of other people, and they are thrilled and spellbound. On the other hand, there are people who are helpless even to utter a few words with proper grammar or to even make sense in logic, but somehow, they can cut through all the logic and reason and grip our spirits. We are left in the end with a sense of awe and wonder, and we struggle to figure out what happened.
It was not simply a man speaking, but it was a man who knew God and spoke.
Knowing God and living that kind of life that impacts others is not something we can achieve by reading books and studying and having all the right answers.
For me, Paul is one of the most important examples to help me try to figure out how to live as a normal human being and follow Christ. I try to figure this out: What was it that made Paul—a hard-core, Type-A personality, militant, aggressive, pragmatic, “Don’t tell me no; I can do it,” with all the power—to come to the place that he says, “I know in me dwells not one good thing. I start from zero?” (Paraphrased from Romans 7:18 and Philippians 3:8-9.) Something happened that stripped away everything, and he was left empty.
The famous Saint Anthony of Egypt was born in an extremely rich and affluent family. In our terms today, his parents were multi-millionaires. When Saint Anthony was around 20 years old, his parents died and left the entire wealth to him. But that was the same time he happened to read the Gospel of Matthew. He saw that Scripture portion where Jesus said to the rich young man, “go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21, NKJV). He saw himself as the rich young ruler. And around that age, 20 or 21, he walked away from everything for the sake of knowing God.
His time was a time of hedonistic, worldly culture that was absolutely killing the Church. It was not a crisis of doctrines so much as it was of lives not born out of God. Saint Anthony sought, with a few people, to walk away, refusing to be influenced and formed by the Church that was losing intimacy with God.
Our individual and collective journey of truly knowing God happens with solitude and our learning to be still before Him. Over the past several years I’ve begun to learn to be alone, to be still, be silent. I go out from my room in India onto the veranda, where it is quiet. I mean, you cannot even imagine how still it is. And there is a chair out there where I sit. I’ve been developing this habit of spending an hour or two being still with God. This practice helps us to distance ourselves from the influence of the intensity of activity and the noise around us, or even more so, the noise within us, and to look to God.
It’s not easy for me. My mind is active even when I am sleeping. And if you don’t believe me, ask my wife. She says, “What on earth are you doing when you sleep? You are still thinking!” It’s so difficult for people like me, with my temperament, so activity-oriented and result-oriented, to enter into this practice. And I am still learning.
We can all be afraid to be alone because there we run into ourselves. We find the memories, the failures and the struggles and things we are not, and we want to run from it all. The truth is, if we struggle through it, sooner or later, we are not running into ourselves, we are running into God—God who is waiting for us. God is not only waiting for us but rather, He surrounds us with His invitation. His voice is one of forgiveness and consolation.
Often, I have a lot of fears and concerns, and my mind thinks a million things about how to fix everything. But when I finally come to the place where I say, “Lord, I lay this at Your feet,” and know there’s nothing else left for me to do, I find a mystery takes place of healing from my fears and unknowns. God is saying to us, “You don’t need all the answers, you just need Me. Be quiet enough, and you can hear Me.” In times like this, Psalm 62:1 (ESV) becomes so real, “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation.”
When I think about quieting my heart before God, I think of this Scripture we started with, “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.” It’s like a little baby, crying and screaming and all the sudden it’s fed, and it’s just absolutely quiet and ready go to sleep.
“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9, NKJV) Whether it happens to us by events that unfold or a choice we make, turning to God as our only source and waiting on Him frees us from the worries and cares of this world so that we might truly know Him.
Read Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence to learn to practice God’s presence in our daily lives.