Encouragement Encounters: Presence, Part 1

Are you feeling closer to God this week?  In a few moments you will know why I am asking!

Let’s begin with a familiar story, Luke 10: 38-40. “As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Let’s look at Martha for a moment.  If I were he,r I would be almost beside myself knowing Jesus was in my house.  Are the rooms freshened?  What do I have to serve?  How long will it take to get food ready?  Do I look alright?  Are the guests enjoying themselves? The flurry of frantic questions would certainly circle through my mind.

In a moment of overwhelming exhaustion, her gaze falls upon her sister.  Why is she not helping me? Thinks  Martha, even asking the Lord. (Can’t He see she is doing all this for him?)  “Tell her to help me!”,  she says!

If you have ever tried to complete a seemingly never-ending to-do list before company arrives, you must certainly relate!

Now, let’s look at Mary.  She sees Jesus come in.   She wants to hear what he has to say.  She plants herself at his feet, close enough to catch every word.  She wants to see him, know him, learn from him.  She is so absorbed in who is there and what he is saying, she completely forgets the tasks at hand.

Jesus does not rebuke her.  He rebukes Martha, who is complaining.  But He does it ever so gently, acknowledging her perception of the situation, and the stress she feels.  He tells her: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.”   Luke 10:41-42

In the midst of all the preparations, it is better that she sits at his feet and listens.

If we allow ourselves precious moments to spend with God, we will encounter His presence.  During those moments, God can speak directly into our hearts and encourage us.  But, we need to make those moments possible.  We need to turn off the compelling cable TV, the interesting internet, the buzzing Blackberry, and all the other general disturbers of the peace, our peace(!), and quietly spend sufficient time with God.

I have a wall plaque in my closet.  It is a small, simple sign which has Psalm 46:10 written on it “Be still and know I am God.” I keep it there, as I have shared before, because that is where I go to pray.  Anywhere else in the house, I am bound to be distracted.  Beautiful children’s voices interrupting my thoughts.  The washing machine telling me it is finished with the current load.  Like you in your days, the interruptions are endless.

Most of us would agree, it is not a good idea for your marriage if you never spend any quality time together.  If you are dating, and your special someone does not call for three weeks, you might assume the whole thing is off!

Why do we think it is acceptable to go for days, weeks,or even months at a time without spending quality time with God?  We might say we are too busy with all the things God has given us to do, but is that the real truth?  I have learned for myself that yes, God does call us to be productive and to do many things for Him.  But, would He really call us to be too busy to spend time with Him?

Or maybe, sometimes, we think we are doing alright on our own.  We do not need any encouragement, things are going along just fine, thank you very much!  Beware: pride goes before a fall.  And, God wants to be so much more to us than the being in the sky we turn to in times of trouble.  He wants a relationship with us, He wants us to know Him just as He knows us.

People ask how much time does it take?  It all depends.  How much time until I am not distracted today?

I met a woman who works for a Christian publisher.  She told me, that each employee was permitted to take off one day a month, with pay, to simply spend time with God.  She told me she had actually used a few days over various months.  She reported that there really were some days, when it seemed to take her hours to empty her mind of distractions so she could just spend time in His presence.

That conversation really challenged me.  How easy it is to tell myself “this is just a stage of life”.  After all, I am home most of the time, caring for three children God gave to me.  I spend my days serving my family, and teaching my children about God and His word.  He knows that.  Yet, that is not the sole reason He put me here.

I am here to honor and glorify God, and I can not very well do that if I am caught up in other things to the point where I eclipse Him out.

I do not think we need to wallow in self-condemnation; God does not want that either!  He just wants to be with us: His creation.  He loves us immensely and He desires for us to want to spend time with Him.

When we do, we learn more about Him, about His plans and purpose for our lives, and we often leave feeling very  refreshed and encouraged.

That does not mean we should be so spiritually focused that we are no earthly good.  We still need to go to work, clean the house, and pay the bills.  But we need our time with God, too.

Please glance back at the first line in this post.  Are you feeling closer to God this week?

When you spend time in His word and in His presence, you will be drawing closer to Him.

Reflection:

What tasks or “disturbers of the peace”  rob me of my time with the Lord?

How can I carve out time to spend with Him?

If you are unsure about what needs to go from your schedule, pray about it, God will show you! If maybe a bit of pride is the issue, pray that God will show you what you need to see, and how to overcome an inaccurate perception.

Please return Monday, February 6, Lord willing, for Part II.

2 thoughts on “Encouragement Encounters: Presence, Part 1”

  1. So much wisdom in this! I am going to reread this many times. I pray that I slow down to increase my time at Jesus’ feet!

  2. I woke up very early this morning and I was frustrated because I have been struggling to get enough sleep. In reading this, I realized that I was given the opportunity to rest…by spending time, in the quiet, being still, at His feet. Thanks for the reminder.

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