“There is a tide in the affairs of man which must be taken at the crest.” – Shakespeare
What does soul-intimacy with Jesus look like to you? Have you ever imagined what that kind of relationship with Jesus might feel like? Can you imagine hearing the One with a Galilean accent speak your name and explain life to you? Do you desire that kind of relationship with Him?
I wonder if during these days of isolation some of us have an opportunity of a lifetime. I wonder if there might be an echo from the eternal that says to our souls that this is the time to be still and know that he is God.
This season of physical distancing and isolation might be the time to develop a different way to live. I want to suggest a couple that have worked well for me and have continued to feed my soul.
Reflective Reading of Scripture.
I’ve been doing this for years. When I read a passage aloud and slowly from the Gospels, I ask Jesus to “quicken” a word or phrase to my soul. When I see that word “shimmer,” I ask Jesus what he might want to say to my heart from that word or phrase. I sit and silently wait for an impression from Him.
This is very personal to me. This is what a lover might say to their beloved. This is an endearing word from the One who has captured my heart. I hold that word or phrase and read the passage again out loud and very slowly.
With that word or phrase held loosely in my spirit, I try to imagine what it would have been like to be in the story. I engage my God-given imagination. If it is a story set beside the Sea of Galilee, I hear the lapping of the waves, I feel the wind prickle my skin, I smell the wet mud and decaying reeds on the shore.
With my feet firmly planted in the story, I wonder what Jesus might be inviting me to do with the word or phrase He has given me. I try to imagine living the day before me stepping into that invitation.
Then I read the passage one more time aloud and rest in the story. Just sitting with it.
Write out my prayers.
Again, this is a practice that has sustained me for over twenty years. I don’t write for anyone’s eyes but mine. Most often they are in the form of a prayer. My regrets from the previous day, my hopes for those that I love, my longings for tomorrow.
My journal has become a kind of altar. A place I do business with myself and God. I’m honest, blunt, and brutal in my journal. Both with myself and with God. It is where I list out the names of those that Jesus has put upon my heart. I write those names and whisper them to the Father.
I pray what is in my heart, not what ought to be in my heart knowing that God sees down in there anyway.
Sit in God’s Presence.
This is often done in complete silence early in the morning. The only sounds are the birds beginning to sing outside the window. Or the creaking of my old house as the temperature begins to heat up the wood. Sometimes I will put on some reflective music without words and just be with God. Letting my heart feel. Letting my mind wander.
If something comes to mind that needs to be captured, I try to discern whether it is whisper from God for my ears only or is it something I should jot down in my journal for later processing.
I do other things, but these are the ones I do with some constancy. I’ve practiced them for a long time. They have sustained me, along with my long wandering prayer walks in the woods.
What are you going to do with this forced “time out” that God has allowed us to experience? This is an opportunity that might not have your attention again in your lifetime.
There is a lovely verse in one of the Old Testament prophetic books that speaks of the tender wooing of our God.
The Lord your God in your midst…
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
During this pandemic, is this your moment to turn up the quiet and listen for a song from your heavenly lover?
I met Lynette on a blind date 39 years ago this spring. We came to love each other very quickly. Leading up to our wedding day I debated whether not to surprise her by singing to her on our wedding. Because I had never sung in front of anyone before, I left it open-ended as to whether or not to do it.
The plan was that during the pastor’s prayer, someone would hand me a microphone, my brother would leave the grooms party, and go to the piano so that when everyone raised their heads from the prayer, I would have a microphone in my hand and my brother would begin to play the piano and I would begin to sing my first and only solo before a crowd in church.
All during the prayer, I kept thinking “Don’t do it. You will make a fool of yourself. You don’t sound good. You will forget the lyrics. You will sing off-key. You will start balling like a baby. No one will know that you didn’t sing except your brother. Play it safe. Don’t do it.”
Another part of me kept thinking “But this moment will only come along once. You will never have this opportunity again to tell her in this way at this important moment how much she means to you. No one will remember if you were on key or if the lyrics were right, but they will remember that you took advantage of the moment and sang to the love of your life.”
The pastor said, “Bless this couple as they begin their life together. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Everyone’s head rose. I looked into her beautiful eyes and began to sing,
You happened to me just in time
To save me from me
I have surrendered myself
Saying what will be will be
Then you came like the touch of a raindrop
To a dry withered rose
You happened to me just in time
God only knows
That was my moment.
Is this your moment to renew or begin a more intimate covenant relationship with the one who calls you “Beloved”?