I know someone else already claimed the title, but I reckon I’d be a strong front runner for the very worst missionary. I have much evidence to back up my claim, most of which I couldn’t ever share with you but this one struggle is one that I’m sure most of you can identify with, and so I feel as though I’m probably in good company. I really have a hard time sitting still and alone with my thoughts. Call it what you will – gathering your thoughts, listening to God, meditation, prayer, alone time – for me, it is hard work.
Today, desperately in need of some time to myself and some space to hear God’s voice, I headed to the bush. I walked through the suburbs on the outskirts of town, through some little farms, down into a valley, across a river and then scaled some rocks to find this beautiful, peaceful waterfall and there I sat! Apart from some very curious farmers way over on the hill wondering what the crazy white lady was up to, I was alone. It was a peaceful and completely uninterrupted time without a single distraction… except for those ones inside my head!
That is where my major difficulty lies. I have a really hard time focussing my thoughts. It really is quite amusing or scary – depending on how you look at it. This time I decided to jot down my distracting thoughts. I was thinking maybe it would help to write them down and then get back to listening to God. I don’t know if it really did or not – but I think it has made for an interesting look inside my head.
– I wonder how my friend **** does this solitude thing – she seems to be good at it?
– What would be the best way to walk here?
– I think it’s going to rain.
– I should have brought my sunnies.
– What would I do if I found a dead person?
– How do you treat a body with respect here?
– There’s no phone reception here.
– Could I carry something that heavy?
– If you carried a dead person, would bodily fluids start leaking out?
– When would God even get a chance to talk to me?
– How do I act out my faith in visible ways – routine, sacred space / time?
– Could I climb up to those rocks over there?
– Someone has been cutting down those trees. I wonder who?
– I could blog these thoughts, as part of my quest to connect more deeply with God.
– What would people think?
– Now I’m thinking about my opening sentence.
– I wonder if there are snakes here, or lions. There was a lion near the governor’s house.
– Dirimba!!! That’s what I would shout. That’s the chiyawo word for lion… I think.
– That looks like a cave – I wonder if I could get there.
– Emancipate yourself from mental slavery… thanks Bob!
– Stop taking everything so seriously?
– In the secret, in the quiet place. In the stillness you are there (sung until the end of the chorus, not verse 2, I couldn’t remember the words).
– Spotlight, I found you, I know where you are – The Waifs
– Was finding fun more about distraction than enjoyment / true refreshment – what’s the difference?
– Does Cam get me?
– It is super windy.
A random mish mash of seemingly unrelated thoughts. So much noise to get through – no wonder it’s hard to hear God’s voice. So am I crazy? Or are we all in the same boat? Or just one person – is anyone in this same boat?
After more than two hours sitting on the rock… I think I did hear some things. Maybe that’s just what this part of like looks like – a crazy muddle of thoughts and happenings but God is in the centre of it all. I’ll just keep trying to wade through it all and get to that centre – where perhaps things aren’t spinning quite as quickly.
I’ve been struggling with this exact thing lately. Try to talk to God but my head is so noisy. I think it needs to be a daily commitment of time because solitude and prayer are spiritual disciplines that we need to train ourselves into. Some things I do when I’m too distracted to do all the talking (or all the listening): Read through the psalms; choose an incident in the gospel and imagine you’re there and play it through in your mind- i.e. Be the woman who touched Jesus and was healed; pick one verse and meditate on it- write it on the top of a page and then write down all the things God is saying through the verse- it can be surprising how much fresh understanding can come when you do this; read a whole book of your bible in one sitting; do the ‘palms up, palms down’ meditation exercise; write a prayer.
I think the difference between Christian and eastern meditation is that with Christian meditation, there’s no need to be anxious to “empty your mind.” When you can’t just sit in stillness and silence, do one of these other things first, and then just try the stillness and silence for a short burst. Gradually increase it over time.
And if none of that works, my fall back is to get my iPod and whack on some good old Uncle Tim.
Have you read Richard Foster’s ‘Celebration of Discipline’? He does a good job of making spiritual disciplines seem achievable.
Thanks for your honest post. It got me thinking about how I can improve my personal quiet time with God.
p.s Last night I dreamed we had just discovered we were all adopted.
Hi kath, yes! This sounds familiar to me. I think a creative mind has a lot to do with it…
Kath, thanks for sharing your personal thoughts 🙂 or some of them! As you inferred, at least it’s calm in the eye of the storm! I pray that the Holy Spirit will get you there!
Your place looks a LOT like the places I like to find. We azungus are funny huh? And I’ve gotta say your thoughts border on pretty normal ones too. So don’t worry. But yeah, all good stuff to really grapple with. At least we’re in a simpler place out here.