“Shushing up and slowing down,” writes Kelly Balarie, “is paramount to God working in us—and strengthening us. . . . God is ready to hit us with unfathomable new perspectives—ones that redefine our past, present, and problems if we will only stop, receive, and consider. Will we? Will we walk unafraid into His presence? Into God’s rhythms? Not cowering from mysteries?” (Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears)
Sometimes God urges us to come closer. It’s almost as if we hear Him calling us by name, inviting us to quiet ourselves and deliberately listen to Him.
He summons us to a thin place where we mortals experience a sacred intimacy with Him.
That’s what happened to Samuel one night while he was lying down, perhaps trying to fall asleep. We picture a scene without noise or hustle or bustle. And out of the hush, God called his name, “Samuel!”
And in that thin place, alone with God, Samuel answered, “Speak, Lord, I’m listening.”
So, God spoke. He told Samuel to pay attention, because “I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle” (1 Samuel 3:11, NIV). Samuel was going to receive an important message from God, and, because of his readiness to listen, Samuel didn’t miss it.
How easy it would be for us, in our cluttered, clanging lifestyles, to miss hearing God’s voice. That’s what Kelly Balarie meant when she wrote of the importance of “shushing up and slowing down.”
Sometimes God catches our attention on busy days, within complicated chapters of our lives. Unlike Samuel, Moses was at work, doing his everyday duties—herding his flock on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 3:1-5)—when God called to him, “Moses, Moses!”
“I’m here,” he answered.
Then God said, “Take off your sandals—you’re standing on holy ground.”
And in that thin place, God revealed His identity to Moses (the mighty “I am who I am” in verse 14) and gave him life-changing information for not only himself but for all Israelites.
When God invites us to focus on Him, He longs for us to respond the way Moses did when He called him—but He gives us a choice. (Our loss if we turn Him down!)
God wants us to experience an intimacy with Him, a quiet space where we’re aware we are standing on holy ground. He invites us to worship, pray, reflect, enjoy Him, and pay attention to Him—because like with Samuel and Abraham, He has important information for us.
If God calls our names in the midst of our busy duties, like he did with Moses, what are we to do if we simply can’t drop everything and walk away?
One option is to schedule time to meet with Him every day, such as setting the alarm clock 45 minutes earlier than usual. Another option would be getting out of town for a weekend in-depth personal retreat.
But even if we can’t change our schedules, we can change our mindsets and deep inner thoughts. We can be conscious of God’s presence throughout the day, hear His words, and carry out conversations with Him.
In his daily devotional, Bread for the Journey, Henri Nouwen ponders Psalm 46:10, “Be still and acknowledge that I am God.”
He writes, “These are words to take with us
in our busy lives.
We may think about stillness
in contrast to our noisy world.
But perhaps we can go further
and keep an inner stillness
even while we carry on business,
teach, work construction, make music,
or organize meetings. . . .
This still place is where God can dwell
and speak to us. . . .
Within that stillness
God can be our gentle guide
in everything we think, say, or do.”
God wants us to be sensitive to His nudges and whisperings, to ponder His Word in light of our own situations. He welcomes our thoughts and questions, He hopes we’ll be open and transparent, and He wants to give us insight and encouragement and direction.
He can do that best when we set ourselves apart with Him and listen.
“God is ready to hit us with unfathomable new perspectives
—ones that redefine our past, present, and problems
if we will only stop, receive, and consider.
Will we walk unafraid into His presence?
Into God’s rhythms?
Not cowering from mysteries?”