In my final year at school we had to read Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ as one of our English literature books. ‘To be, or not to be...’ is the opening phrase of a soliloquy of Hamlet in this play. He was referring to whether it is better to live or to die. But for me the words, ‘to be’ are significant in a different way.
I heard someone say, “We’re human beings and not human doings.” The last half of 2015 was a particularly busy time for me. Over and above the normal work and ministry responsibilities, we were getting ready for my daughter’s wedding in November, and for the guests that would come from far and wide to attend. I found myself greatly distracted during my quiet times with the Lord. My mind was constantly racing, and even though I still sat down in my comfy chair during my usual quiet time slot with the Lord, I had a hard time engaging with what I was reading in the Word, and in prayer.
One morning I was feeling so condemned about my inability to have, what I figured, was a ‘good’ quiet time. In desperation I prayed the following prayer: “Lord, my quiet times with you haven’t felt constructive and fruitful. Right now, I’m unable to do what I usually do, and to engage the way I always do in my time with You. I’m simply too distracted, and nothing I try doing to change this seems to work. But, Lord, I commit to turning up every morning, at the same time as usual, for my time with You. All I can commit to is just BEING there.” And without missing a beat, I heard God say, “I can do that with you, and we’ll just BE together”.
This was a huge relief for me, and it taught me something so valuable about God and our relationship. He delights in my BEING as much as He delights in my DOING. Once I realised that, and stopped striving to ‘DO’ when I was with Him, I experienced the Holy Spirit’s presence in a fresh and reassuring manner. My quiet times became an oasis for my weary spirit, soul and body.
The word ‘Selah’ is a Hebrew word, translated in the Amplified Bible as ‘Pause and calmly think of that’. It’s thought to have been a musical term indicating a pause in the music before the next part of the song would begin. It is used 74 times in the Bible, 71 of them in the Psalms. Like the Psalmist, we would do well to understand the value of ‘Selah’ moments – times of just being in the presence of the Lord, and allowing Him to be with us in those moments without striving to perform – times to pause and calmly think on who He is and enjoy His company.
If you find yourself in a time of unusual busyness and pressure, don’t feel condemned when you find your mind wandering when you’re with the Lord. Continue to meet with Him and BE with Him, and allow Him to come into that space you find yourself in. Share your wandering thoughts and cares with Him, and listen for His comforting voice to give you direction and peace.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You always see my heart, and that You understand me completely. Thank You that You are gracious and that I can rest in the knowledge that You will meet me where I am – even in my weakest times. I love You, Lord. Amen.
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