by Sarah Jennings Phillips
The affairs of God are accomplished little by little and almost imperceptibly. The Spirit of God is neither violent nor hasty. -- St Vincent de Paul
The past several weeks have been filled with jam-packed schedules, crowded airports, chattering children and blaring cell phone ring tones -- a never ending stream of noises, technology, and motion. It seems the older I get, the more those lazy summer days of childhood feel like fairy tales from another life.
If you're American, you're probably just as busy if not busier than I am right now. We're a country filled with activity. Studies show we're some of the most sleep-deprived people in the world. We work long hours, come home to more work (completed with the television blathering on in the background) before collapsing into bed to repeat the process again the next day.
Why do we live such frantic, hyper stimulated lives? Sometimes it's out of a sense of obligation - we feel it's a sin to say "no" so we overextend ourselves trying to fill the roll of Savior for everyone around us. Sometimes our frenzied lives stem from a sense of inadequacy - "If I work hard and accomplish such-and-such, I will have value." Sometimes it's a mode of escape - burying ourselves in work or in a TV program keeps our minds off life's disappointments. And sometimes we've just lost sight of our priorities, defaulting to the heightened pace of the culture around us, unaware that we've let our down time slip away little by little.
Regardless of why we're living in the fast (and loud) lane, deep down we all know we need to get out of it. Our souls crave peace, stillness, and silence. And even if we can ignore the cries of our souls for awhile, our bodies demand it when they eventually wear out.
Why do we crave that stillness? It seems the "noise" of life is more often man-made than God-ordained. In Scripture we see that time and again, God calls us to find peace in Him, to lighten our burden with Him, to set aside our anxieties and meaningless business. We see God speak to the prophet Elijah through a "gentle whisper" and tell an anxious Martha that her sister Mary chose the "better" part when she abandoned household duties to sit at Jesus' feet. (Luke 10: 41-42)
After a long day of running here and there, I find myself longing to be peaceful Mary whose only job is to be with Christ. So how can we become more like Mary when the vast majority of us more closely resemble worried Martha? I love the opening Scripture verse -- it's so simple, it cuts through all the junk clanking around in my brain. Be still.
In the midst of the activity surrounding her, Mary made a simple choice. To sit and be still. You and I can make that simple choice too, even when life seems to be pressing on all sides. It may be awkward at first - we may be tempted to grab for the remote or cut our time with God short. But by seeking stillness we are effectively saying, "Nothing else is as important to me as You at this moment, Lord." When I've spent time at our local Adoration chapel - a place void of constant noise and movement - I find I am never sitting in an empty room doing "nothing" but a place filled with God's presence and love, a place I can truly know God.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Visit a local chapel this week where you can sit, reflect and be alone with the Lord for one hour.
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