I recently realized the words SILENT and LISTEN have the same letters. How interesting that the letter “I” is in the second position of both words.
“I” must come second to be silent. “I” has to come second to listen.
I have also realized that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Silence, stillness, quiet, listen
God says, “Be still and know that I am God.”
A more contemporary version of the same verse states, “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”
I can be still with the best of them. I can be immovable while I scroll through Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. A Netflix binge renders me motionless. I could possibly win an award for just how statue-esque I can become.
Being physically still doesn’t bring me into a deeper knowledge of God.
Our bodies can be like statues, yet our brains can be like a stock car race, rapidly circling a track, occasionally stopping for rapid fuel and tire changes until we are back on the track again. Our minds are fixed on the cars in front, encasing our sides, and closing in on our bumpers. Hyper-aware of everything, but truly aware of nothing.
The school year approached with new possibilities. Our oldest, after twelve months of fighting her chronic pain, would attempt to re-enter school. Our youngest after five years of being my sidekick would become a student for the first time. I stared at the possibility of five solid hours of alone time.
After an exhausting year of doctors appointments, agonizing school hours, and days of bedridden pain I was drawn to a new focus. I felt God motioning me to come back to Him as if I had wandered hundreds of miles away. Physically, I had not strayed far, but my mind had tiptoed away to a distant place craving the chance to avoid the stress and pain as I watched my daughter live out her days beyond my control.
With the touch of my fingers and the scroll of my thumb, I had escaped to a world of social media. Pushing the stresses of my immediate world to the side, I became addicted to political opinions and the lives of those who had little to do with my own. My mind was beyond still and grew more and more distant from God. As a friend put it, “Social media makes our world too big, probably bigger than God ever intended.”
If our world grows beyond our reach, where does that leave the people within our reach?
I felt God pressing in on me to fast. Remove from my life the obsession that pushed me farther from Him and those closest to me. He wanted me to fast from social media. I began discussing this with a friend whose circumstances were eerily similar to mine. Her child’s illness and recent changes in her life had caused her to retreat in the same way. Her world had gotten beyond her reach and God was also calling her back to Him.
Together, we embarked upon a month-long fast, removing all social media from our day. I became aware that the removal of something significant would soon be replaced with the wrong thing unless intentionally replaced with the right thing. To fill the impending void social media would leave in our day, we decided that we would place our focus on scripture memory. As my brain gained clarity from the busy-ness of my addiction, I wanted it to rest on God’s Truth.
Beginning September 1st, we each chose a verse that we felt God wanted us to focus on. We devoted small pockets of time to memorizing, studying, and praying over scripture, listening to how God would want it to be used in our lives. Almost immediately, a transformation began, leaving in its wake more clarity, motivation, peace, and a still mind. God was drawing me back to Him, through His Word, giving me a place to rest and to listen in the midst of the stress that continued.
The verse says, “Be still and KNOW.” Quieting our minds and growing closer to God doesn’t make our problems go away. For our family, the struggles of chronic illness perpetuated, yet I now had more calm and clarity of how to proceed. I became more focused on helping my daughter than how I could escape from the stress. I am able to listen, stay silent, and fully hear my other children as they talk about their school days. My energy, not being spent or wasted on distraction is more available to this little world within my reach.
While more than a month has passed since the fast began, I have returned to logging on from time to time, only to check on a new birth or recent news of a friend. I am determined to stay focused on God’s truth by choosing a new verse each week and dwelling on how it relates to my life. While I know my sinful nature will fall to another obsession in the future, perhaps this time of fasting will serve as a constant reminder of how easily I can tiptoe away God, yet motivate me to return to the stillness of His presence.