My life is loud. It is messy and sometimes a little chaotic and there are schedules to keep and time to manage and it is just. Never. Ending. That is the life I have with four little ones, school, (some) work, and life in general.
That is why I love the quiet solitude I find in God. I have to seek it out, much like my own children seek me out when they first wake, always checking my bed first and then running pell mell down the stairs to check the living room and dining room. Often they can find me in the dining room, coffee mug in one hand and a pen in another, writing in my prayer journal. It is how I prefer to start my day but there are many days where they still find me sleeping in my bed, just as groggy as they were a moment ago. Sometimes I bribe them into laying quietly on the couch just so I can finish up what I am doing, to linger in the quiet just a moment longer.
If I don’t seek out the quiet, I lose it. I won’t get it because there is never enough time in the day, never a dull moment where I can just sit and be quiet. Not when there are children and laundry and cooking and school and my school and the endless to-do list.
Sometimes I think we expect God to be loud. We see the movies and re-telling of stories where God speaks in a thundering voice of power and the whole earth shakes. We see His movement and when He does big things we cry aloud, “That’s my God.” Rightfully so.
But just as God made man and woman in His image, God has two parts that are equally loud and equally soft. He was purposely absent in the loud and noise for Elijah but so very present in the whisper. He is just as soft as He is loud, tender as He is powerful, loving as He is strong.
I wrote those words above a few months ago and never finished it. I wasn’t sure where to go from there and realized that I did not have the ability at the time to write on being quiet before God. But as we have progressed through the season of Advent and I have watched myself continue to fail miserably in this aspect, I have finally found a few more thoughts on the matter. It is not just about being quiet, but about being able to prepare room for Jesus. We have to be willing to cast aside all that is in our hearts and allow Him room there. We often accept Him as our Lord and Savior, thus allowing for the notion that He lives in us. But living in us and having room to live in us, I am learning, are two very different things.
In order to prepare Him room, I must shut out the noise. If not, the noise and daily living pushes Him out. I have no time to listen, to sit in His presence, to know Him and be known by Him.
In a world of loud, constant, chaotic background noises that buzz and hum and beg and lure for our attention, quiet must enter into my soul, must be given room to give Him room. It must remain a background noise, one that dulls, not sharpens, over time.
This Advent season I have struggled to explain to my kids, to show them the importance of this season and I all I have to show for it is a failed, busy season. I have failed to teach them the quiet, the waiting, to listen to hear from God. I have failed to prepare room and like the inn keeper have offered subpar commodities in my heart.
We (I) trade joy and peace and love and hope for chaos, begrudging, rushing, and irritation. We lose room for Him and nudge Him out when we instead focus on the obligations and other things this season has become to us.
Not just this season, but anytime my life gets too busy or my priorities are out of alignment do I lose the room I have for Him. So I am beginning, slowly, to see places where I can add quiet, refocus, and allow Him to have the room in my heart He more than deserves as the One Who saved my soul. It is in the quiet I can toss out all other things that hinder, that keep me from listening for Him, and simply embrace and savor His presence.
What a refreshing to the soul, to the heart. What courage and strength and peace are found there. In Him. If only I don’t let my mind get in the way and open my heart fully and completely, and allow Jesus room to abide. That is the greatest struggle in this time where we are always busy, attending parties and visits and lunches and dinners and buying gifts and go go go.
This is my favorite season. From Thanksgiving on to Christmas, no other time do I love more. But when I focus on Christ, my reasons for loving it change, evolve. And in these quiet moments I steal away, whether in the beginning of the day or end or somewhere in between, it is there I find the One Who my soul loves, the One for whom this season is about. I prepare Him room today, and quietly wait.
For a beautiful song and reflection on preparing Him room, listen here.