Have you ever known someone who, if you get them talking, would never stop? If you’re one who wants to get a word in, talking to this person can be a chore. As an introvert, I’ve somewhat perfected the art of listening, or at least of hearing. Even in my state, I find it hard to stay engaged with someone who talks a lot. My tendency is to check out on them and only nod politely or watch for the momentary pause for the “yeah” or “sure” or “mmhmm”. This talker, though at first may have been entertaining or interesting, quickly reveals himself to be whimsical and shallow. This can’t be called a conversation, much less a relationship.
I think we do that with God all the time. We don’t really understand what a relationship with God really means. We think He’s someone to talk at and we ramble on and on about stuff. Just in time, we remember that He’s powerful and so we request He do things. We get so carried away with our requests that when we run out of breath, we also run out of time and so we go on with our day, failing to realize that we didn’t really have a conversation with God at all. Instead, we went through the drive-thru and forgot to actually pick up our order.
So what is the appropriate interaction in our relationship with God? In Proverbs 10:19, it says, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” There is another bit of advice that applies here. “Be still, and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time to “cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you.” (Ps 55:22) Again, when we finally “cast”, we forget to stick around for the sustaining part, and it takes us a long time to figure out the casting part.
When it was warmer outside, I’d go on runs or walks when I found that life was overwhelming me. Usually, it was because I didn’t see God clearly, but that’s a topic for another time. At first, I would tell God what was going on, in the same way that you might answer someone who asked, “What’s going on with you lately?” I would talk a little bit about where my thoughts were at, since that was usually where the chief problem was (as I will detail in several days).
By this point, if I’d been running, I’d be unable to talk audibly but still far from home. This fell right into the being still part, because after I confessed all the things going on with me and released them to God, finding nothing else to talk about, I was able to just be quiet and listen. It was in those moments, emptied as I was, that God would show me something that would be a word of sustenance for me. Indeed, most of these topics were birthed in such a way, as well as many of the original material that I’ve taught in Sunday school over the past year.
The mode is not important, however, only that you take the time to empty yourself of anxiety and stress and then allow God to fill you with His sustaining Word. That can and probably should look different for every person. Running worked for me because I found it could be a release for me that came somewhat naturally to me. Over the years and especially when I was in college, I’ve learned that the most effective stress management is not simply about relieving stress, but rather it’s about giving it away.
I’ve spent weeks saying over and over that God is fully capable of handling our burdens and I’m saying today that He wants us to let Him handle them. If we’re honest we already know that we can’t, but by now we should also know that God can, will, and does. Are we willing to bow down and let the Master work?