I read an interesting statement in Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest this week: “Quiet days with God may be a snare.” I had to read it over and ponder this a bit. Out of context, it makes no sense. Wouldn’t quiet days spent in prayer and worship be a good thing? Shouldn’t we all long for those times when we can sit and reflect and listen and read and pray for hours?
The sentence that follows gives some clarity: “We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be.” What I take this to mean is that wishing and longing for that long stretch of time alone with the Lord may keep us from making time and taking time in the midst of the noise and busyness of the real world.
I’m a perfectionist. That wouldn’t be your first impression if we met face-to-face. Because my perfectionism often shows itself as procrastination. Sounds contradictory, I know, but it was liberating to discover years ago (in a book called something like Messy Housewives Anonymous) that I was putting off what needed to be done because I didn’t want to do a thing if I couldn’t do it perfectly. If I didn’t have time to empty my bedroom closet and re-hang my clothes according to season and in rainbow order–reds, then oranges, then yellows. . . . all the way to purples–then I might as well not even start straightening up the bedroom. Why bother making the bed if a red blouse is hanging next to a green one, right?
So I’m just the kind of person who would say, “What good is a few minutes here and there? I’ll set aside three hours on Saturday morning for time alone with God.” And there is the snare Chambers talks about.
I’ve learned over the years that I can clean one drawer in the kitchen even if I don’t have time to polish my grandmother’s silver or organize the condiments in alphabetical order. And I’ve learned that moments focused on God in the midst of the noise of life can be precious and restoring. But how do we do that when life is filled with grocery lists and sticky-note reminders and bills and cell phones and television and social media and maybe “Mom, Mom, MOM!”?
We’ve all heard that we should set the alarm to wake an hour before the rest of the family so we have time to pray and read our Bibles. Good advice, yes. But not always possible. So what about setting a timer and once every hour take one minute to pray? Maybe it will be sixty seconds of praise, maybe a solid minute of “Lord, help! I can’t do this!”
I’ve found that purposing to notice beauty around me makes me more aware of God’s blessings. It takes only seconds to bend over a rose and study the delicate shape and soft color of a single petal. Or, if you live in the Midwest like I do, pause for a second of child-like awe in the uniqueness of a snowflake that lands on your mitten.
What do you do to focus on God in the midst of your noisy times with the world?
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3