Posted by: mikenicholsblog | December 25, 2016

a few days in between to prepare

Yesterday ended at midnight, and we have six days until the New Year. The pace and distractions of Christmas can be staggering … and then we are confronted with another year. We have a few days in between to prepare ourselves for 2017. Maybe, just maybe, the following words are appropriate for you today. They are for me!

Quiet down before God, be prayerful before Him.

Those words, taken from Psalms 37:7 in The Message, sum up the desire and struggle that I have faced this year. In an effort to intentionally move at a slower pace (internally and externally), I have been keenly aware of my desire vs. my struggle. It only makes sense to me that every Christ-follower would want to live with a quiet center and prayerful heart. Why is it then that so few live with ears in tune to what the Lord is trying to convey? My personal conviction is that the quiet center available to us is so often filled with noise (I battle the noise, do you?). We can all find excuses for the noisy and distracted lives we lead, but when the noise and distractions cause us to miss what God is saying, no excuse is good enough. Is your heart quiet and prayerful heading into a new year?

My personal reading has taken me to a book called Thirsting for God, by Gary Thomas. Really thirsting after God will cause redirection in anyone’s life. I find that genuinely seeking the Father slows me down internally, and fuels the desire for a quiet center. See if the following quote from Thomas’ book resonates with where your journey is currently.

Living a busy life is like running a marathon—we tax our ability to care, our ability to focus, our strength to manage disappointment, our sense of peace and rest. Consequently, we live on the edge of exhaustion, irritation and anger. We have to re-gather ourselves, guard our peace, and focus so we will be free to care about the things that really matter and fully give ourselves to the tasks God calls us to address.

Are those first two sentences true of your life? Have you felt that guilty tug when someone needs your assistance, yet there is little energy or emotional reserves to help? We are all human and subject to seasons which are extremely busy and taxing. But to live with noise, distractions and chaotic schedules that limit our listening to God and hinder our walk with Him is unacceptable. You and I can quiet down and be prayerful before Him in 2017.

Countless times, I have read of Jesus stealing away to pray. I can imagine those were special moments and times of refreshment. I need exactly that in my life. But, oh how the distractions and noise become addictive! For me, it’s a choice: Will I, or won’t I live with a quiet heart and seek to embrace God in each moment? How about you? There can be no greater indication of our need to fight the noise and distractions than looking at Christ’s pattern. He needed to get away from the crowds, and He needed to pray. None of us can claim lives with more noise and chaos than the Son of God. Listening to the Father was obviously important to Him. Could it be any less important for us?  I believe a quiet center is available; do you?

My goal in this post is not to instruct, but to relate. My selfishness often drowns out the voice I most want to hear. This year, I have sought to grow quieter and embrace Him in each moment. Progress is slow, but I’m determined to have what is available to me. For me, it starts in my time with the Father. But then there has to be a conscious choice all day long to slow down, relax, and be a listener. I want to hear what He has to say. Your noise and distractions are probably different from mine, but you have them. Are you working from a quiet center, or just fitting God into your busy schedule?  I’ll admit that I wondered whether anyone would genuinely respond to my challenge. Is there anyone who will choose to create some space in these next few days to consider the condition of their heart and life as they hit the on-ramp to 2017.  If there is … if there is one person reading who is ready to tackle 2017 in a fresh and quieter way, I am praying for you!

God still speaks … slow down with me and listen.


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