March 3, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Today’s devotion is written by Alice Fryling. It’s the final installment in a series. If you missed my introduction of Alice in last Friday’s devotion, you can read it here. – Mark
Scripture—Lamentations 3:28-29 (MSG)
When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions. Wait for hope to appear.
When life seems “heavy and hard,” our inclination is to fix it rather than go off and be silent. The idea of sitting still and accomplishing nothing is counterintuitive. It may feel like a waste of time. But spending some time every day being quiet is one of the most valuable things we can do at any age, and especially as we age.
God’s invitation to stillness is both counterintuitive and countercultural. But it is not new. When the Israelites saw Pharaoh chasing them down after they fled from Egypt, they were terrified (Exodus 14:9-10). Moses said, “Do not be afraid. . . . The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13-14, NIV). The Message translates it this way: “God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!”
For most of us being still and keeping our mouths shut do not come naturally. Even though we know about the value of “silence and solitude” (advice often given to busy mid-lifers) it becomes even more important as age creeps upon us. We may be disappointed to notice that we are not as busy as we used to be. Being still is one of the best ways to adapt to this new experience.
God invites us to notice the truths written in our hearts. He promised his people a new covenant. “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; . . .No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me. . . . (Jeremiah 31:31, 34 NRSV). As we age, we have more opportunity to listen to God’s word “written” in our hearts. When we are still, God silently speaks to us in our inner being, reminding us of things we learned long ago and of truth that is more relevant to our lives than ever before.
Jesus said to his disciples, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:12-13, NIV). The Spirit whispers to us what we are ready to hear. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we are allowed to get older. We can hear things now that we have missed before.
In my younger years, I prayed a lot about all I was doing. My default “quiet time” often revolved around thinking about what needed to be done that day, how I could control my agenda in order to have more time, and why what I was doing was really important. Then I’d ask God to bless my well-laid plans.
Now when I pray, I don’t make as many suggestions to God. If I say anything at all, it is usually to express what I am feeling and thinking. I remember God’s love for me and my desire to rest in God’s grace.
This way of praying is uniquely personal. Many times I just sit. I am not doing anything, but without trying to “solve” a problem, I often find that I have clarity about thoughts, feelings, and relationships that have been confusing to me. I pay particular attention to any Bible passage that comes to mind. It is often the Word of the Lord to me. Then I wait until I settle down, hoping to let go of my own importance and my ego’s needs to impress others and God.
The psalmist said, “For God alone my soul waits in silence” (Psalm 62:1, NRSV). As we age and have more time for quiet in our lives, we are invited to ever-deepening times of sitting in stillness. Into that quiet, the Holy Spirit whispers that God loves us, just as we are today.
How do you experience each part of these words of Scripture in Lamentations 3:28-29?
When does life feel heavy and hard?
How do you go off by yourself?
What works for you to help you enter silence and bow in prayer?
What questions press upon you?
When have you waited and found hope?
Ask several friends how they practice spiritual quiet and silence in this season of their lives. What works best for each of them?
Gracious God, I need help waiting for you in silence. Help me, for a few moments, right now, to “Be still and know that you are God.” Thank you for being with me as I am still. Amen. (See Psalm 46:10)
You can learn more about the De Pree Center’s Third Third Initiative here.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Jeremiah the Poet at Work: Lamentations
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Alice Fryling is a spiritual director and a bestselling author of ten books on relationships and spiritual formation, including her new book Aging Faithfully: The Holy Invitation of Growing Older. Alice received training in Spiritual Direction from the Christos Center in Minneapolis, and training in the Enneagram at Loyola University. She has been leading Enneagram workshops for thirty years, teaching participants how to use the Enneagram to know God and themselves more deeply. She is also certified to teach the Myers Briggs Temperament Inventory. She and her husband, Bob, have two married daughters and four grandchildren. They live in Monument, Colorado.