Whew! I’ve made it through the busiest spring schedule in years! The Pharaoh’s Daughter release, retreats, book signings, radio interviews and my first TV appearance—say it with me, D.O.N.E. Thanks to those of you who stormed the heavens with your prayers on my behalf. Our God answered powerfully. I know of one woman who gave her life to Jesus at a retreat and many others who were renewed by His presence.
Two weeks ago, I attended our church’s women’s retreat. It was the first time I didn’t have leadership responsibilities at a ladies’ retreat I was attending. I went to relax, to spend time with my two roommates, and to enjoy a couple of days at the beach.
God had different plans for my weekend.
On Friday night, our speaker, Rita Nussli, defined two words that sort of rocked my world:
- Transparency – sharing honestly something that is resolved.
- Vulnerability – sharing honestly something you’re still working out.
It’s never been hard for me to be transparent. I can tell y’all everything the Lord has DONE in me, but to be vulnerable is next to impossible—even with my closest friends. My life changed radically when my health plummeted in 2002, and since then I’ve walled-off my heart, confiding my inner turmoil to very few.
The “Old Mesu”
As I sat in that room full of women, I knew only one beyond a “Hi! How are you,”—and I’ve attended this church for five years. The “old Mesu” would have known everyone’s name, their kids’ names, and shoe sizes!
The “old Mesu” would have come to the retreat seeking an intimate encounter with Jesus, not just a romp at the beach. A few weeks before the retreat, I’d recognized my relationship with the Lord was dry and distant, and I’d emailed my prayer team with the request for a breakthrough—that the Lord would restore that intimacy I longed for and once had.
Later in Rita’s talk, she gave us three opportunities to read this Scripture from the Message:
[Jesus said,] “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (emphasis added)
That phrase, “recover your life,” kept popping off the page. I had come away to the beach. Now, I would walk with Him and work with Him to recover my life…that intimacy I once had with Him and others.
During Saturday morning’s session, Rita asked a question:
What does God think or feel when He looks at me?
She then dismissed us to spend an hour of silent solitude on the beach—no technology of any kind. No music, no cell phones, nothing except me and Jesus. I cheated and took my Bible and a notebook.
I pondered Rita’s question, asking the Lord how He felt when He thought of me. All that came to mind was…sadness. He wasn’t angry or judgmental, but sad at the emptiness I was feeling. The hour raced by as the Lord revealed what had drained me of intimacy:
“Your life is so full of the urgent, putting out fires and maintaining relationships with ‘just enough,’ that there’s no time for the deep and hidden mysteries of true friendship and that inner fellowship with Me in the secret place. You’re an empty shell with a cracked façade. Only I can fill and restore you. Take every thought captive. Be more intentional. Plan.”
His Presence Alone
There on the beach, I tried to find the Scripture for taking every thought captive. But as I frantically thumbed through God’s Word, I felt the gentle nudge of the Spirit stilling my hands. This wasn’t about finding a Scripture to apply like a Band-Aid. This was about listening in His Presence.
For years, I’ve made my quiet time about reading my Bible. I listen only through God’s written Word. Why don’t I trust His Holy Spirit enough to be silent in His Presence? Without an open Bible. Without pen and paper—or a computer. Just sit in silence. And wait.
“The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” Habakkuk 2:20
This has become my new discipline, to wait quietly in His presence and listen before opening my Bible or lifting a pen in my hand. How long do I wait and listen? That’s up to Him.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll talk more about what I learned on this retreat and the changes the Lord is working through it. I hope you’ll come back next week as we look at Spiritual ADD—How To Deal With Wandering Thoughts In Silent Solitude.
- Difference between transparency and vulnerability; let it transform your relationships.
- Consider the question: What does God think or feel when He looks at me?
- Why don’t we trust His Holy Spirit enough to be silent in His Presence?
- What about today’s post was intriguing to you? What was challenging for you?