‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” (Isaiah 29:13)
Echoed by Jesus, the ancient words of Isaiah still ring true today.
How many of us have been taught that doing quiet time is important, but view it only as an obligation? Quiet time is frequently seen as another to-do on top of our worldly struggles and commitments. But deep and lasting rest should come from our quiet time.
I spent years looking for rest in my quiet time, only for it to become a downward spiral of dead works. I was just going through the motions and not enjoying God. While I ticked the outward “score chart” of successive devotions done, my inward “score chart” only reflected my restless hunger from not knowing how to commune with my Shepherd.
Some of us need to stop defining our walk with God so greatly by outward expressions like going to Church and devotion. As He has paid it all on the cross, all the hours of our quiet time added together would not bring us an inch closer to salvation. We are deeply misguided if we depend upon this for right standing with God.
His atonement is perfectly sufficient. There’s nothing we can do to earn right standing apart from believing by faith in Christ’s work on the cross.
You must set apart for yourself, a time and place to get shut in with Him, away from the restless world.
Does that mean we can neglect things like spiritual disciplines or serving when we’re spiritually dry?
No, these are important things, but our focus must always be first on Christ – the author and perfecter of our faith. Because He is the “author” of our faith, He writes everything from start to finish. Anything done without reliance on Him is empty and dead – motivated and fuelled by our flesh.
But when we cast our eyes upon Jesus and the finished work of the cross – knowing full well that we are mere sinners saved by the grace of God – we are able to find rest from our fears. We have the immeasurable privilege of standing behind Christ – to live a life hidden in Him (Colossians 3:3).
I had let my spiritual disciplines define my relationship with God. Unknowingly, they had fuelled my pride. I thought I was spiritual. Nothing could have been further from the truth. But God helped me understand that Christ is enough. And when He is enough for us, prayer becomes a love-filled conversation – reading the Bible becomes reading love letters!
What would life look like if it was an act of worship? If all we sought was to please and love the one who first loved us?
You might be thinking: “Easier said than done!”
Well, it’s true. It’s difficult to enter the Promised Land when we’ve got so many giants facing us. These might be your finances, studies or relationships. But this difficulty is precisely why we are paradoxically challenged to strive to enter that rest (Hebrews 4:11).
Our spiritual disciplines are a means to enter into His rest. But it’s a foreign and unnatural thing for the flesh to remain in His presence when there are so many tasks to do. It takes immense courage and faith on our part to look beyond the giants of stress and anxiety and say confidently with Joshua and Caleb: “We can certainly do it!” (Num 13:30).
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
The world will always seek to hinder our communion with Christ. So you must set apart for yourself, a time and place to get shut in with Him, away from the restless world.
It’s the only way you can share in the Psalmist’s grand declaration: “Whom have I in heaven but You? There is none on earth I desire but You.” (Psalm 73:25)