One night last week I lay coaxing sleep after a very busy day. I let my mind wander back to what I had read early that morning during my “quiet time.” (Truth: “quiet time” sometimes means I sit there with my Bible open, reading the daily passages while trying to coax my brain into functioning with a mug of coffee.)
Anyway, as I reflected on the day, I was discouraged that while that morning’s time with the Lord had been meaningful, the rest of the day was so busy my mind rarely stopped to think about what I had learned that morning or how it applied to what I was doing right then.
I began to think about the discipleship tool we’ve been given – Hear and Do. It has been so helpful in studying the Word, but I wondered why it seems so difficult to actually walk that out in the moment during an average, busy day. As I asked the Lord about this, I was reminded of two statements Jesus made while on Earth:
My next question was, “How do I know what the Father is doing or saying in any given moment?” I thought back to the interactions that day with my husband, online, at work, and in conversations with friends. To be honest, it is much easier to respond from instinct, what seems right or practical in the moment, even on autopilot at times. I wanted to give myself an out. “Well I can’t see the Father like Jesus could!” but was immediately confronted with Jesus’ words,“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
The Scriptures show us Jesus, what He says and does, which is exactly what the Father says and does. So, the key to only doing and saying what we see the Father doing and saying is observing what Jesus did and said! But how, in the moment, when things must get done, when someone is waiting on an answer, when things are not going well – right then, how do I know exactly what that looks like?
I wonder if the answer might be in just slowing down – slowing way down! Auschwitz survivor, Viktor Frankl, is credited with saying, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.” Without slowing down, we will not recognize that space.
In that space we can remember that our Father is always working, our King is always ruling, always working all things for our good and His glory. There is a plan and He is in control of it. Nothing is irrelevant. Every moment He brings opportunity for us to receive blessing, encouragement, correction. He is always working for our sanctification in the big and little moments. In that space, a tiny pause, I can ask for His guidance. Whatever comes into my day, I always have a choice. Maybe, by remembering there is this space, no matter how small it might be, we can train our minds to pause and listen to the Holy Spirit.
The intimacy of walking with my Savior is what He intends, but I will have to be intentional to look for that space between the urgency of the moment and my response to find Him. It will not happen on autopilot. Author A. B. Chole sums it up this way: “Though such intimacy with God is attainable, it is not accidental. Sustained nearness is the cultivated fruit of intentionality.”
Pausing in that space can allow the Spirit to change my instinctive reactions, which too often are to explain, defend, or demand. Instead, I can lean into a moment to hear, listen, understand, connect with Him and others made in His image. With His help, we can choose gratitude over complaint, compassion over judgment, and serving over selfishness every time, even in the tiniest ways.
We really do have more time than we tend to tell ourselves. Do I believe He will answer if I ask to meet Him in that space? Pausing just one moment to hear what God is saying and ask what He is doing before responding may be that step of faith leading toward the intimate, abundant life He promised. I want to find and live in that space!
Ever-present Father, Gracious King, You have ordained that, even though we are simple dusty creatures, we have the freedom to choose - and we so often choose impulsively and poorly! Forgive us for thinking the freedom to choose means we have our own wisdom to choose well also. That is purely a gift from you, and we ask for Your wisdom in each moment. Thank you for knowing all our weaknesses and inviting us to meet with You anyway. Lord you are all-present, and You inhabit the space between the stimulus and reaction. Please grant habits that will turn us expectantly toward you in that space, and the faith to follow where you lead. Amen!