I held the phone to my ear as I stirred the potato soup and grabbed the bottle cap out of my toddler’s mouth.
“So, how are you doing?” she asked, friendly and openly.
“Honestly?” I ventured. “I’m a bit overwhelmed. I’ve got so many things to do in the next few weeks and we’re only halfway through November. I don’t know if I can keep up this pace for the next six weeks!”
“I know what you mean,” she sighed. “I love the holiday spirit and making special meals and all the traditions with my kids, but sometimes I just wish I could get a time-out and enjoy this season for what it’s meant to be.”
Do you feel the same way?
This morning, as I was confessing my overwhelm to the Lord in prayer, He reminded me of this quote:
“Too much of your surface is exposed to the breath of every wind that blows. You must learn to dwell deep.”
– Amy Carmichael
I want to dwell deeply. I want to dive below the surface of the waves, below the tumultuous gale that tosses me this way and that. I want the inner calm that comes from dwelling in the presence of the Lord.
This is the practice David wrote about in one of my favorite psalms:
One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
As I read that verse, my knee-jerk reaction is to say, “Ain’t nobody got time for that! I’ve got emails to write and meals to cook and errands to run. I can’t spend time just… dwelling!” My friend Laura Krokos just wrote a beautiful post about the many reasons we come up with to ignore our time with the Lord, and I was convicted of how often I make excuses in my own life.
Ironically, the very thing that brinsg the most rest and joy is often the first thing to get dropped off my list. I figure I’m too busy to spend time in prayer or there’s too much to get done to open up my Bible.
But as I reflect back on the seasons of greatest spiritual growth, those are the very things that lead to an increased awareness of the Lord’s presence, an increased power of the Holy Spirit in my life, and an increased love for my Savior. Time spent dwelling in His presence is my lifeline; in His presence there is fulness of joy.
I don’t know what your day’s looked like. And I don’t know what awaits you in the coming holiday weeks. But one thing I do know: our good Father invites us to come to Him with all our burdens and find rest in Him.
This doesn’t mean spending every waking moment in a meditative state while neglecting our duties. But it does mean living with an awareness of His presence that can only come through regular times of worship, prayer, and study with Him.
How is this possible? Here are some things I wrote down for myself this holiday season:
- Have a morning plan. When I start my day in prayer and Bible study, the rest of my agenda is set on course. If possible, decide what part of the Bible you’re going to study each day, who you’ll pray for, and how you’ll engage in worship. This isn’t to make quiet time meaningless, but to take the guessing out of every day. Starting November 30, I’ll be studying the Names of Jesus in preparation to celebrate Him Christmas morning. Would you like to join me?
- Set up regular check-ins. Sometimes I start out my day alright but by noon I’ve gone off-track. Part of dwelling deeply during this busy season means setting alarms on my phone to check in with the Lord and talk to Him about what’s on my mind. Just a two-minute break can do wonders for my heart and soul. Try it!
- Pair down. I live with this fear of missing out, so I say “yes” to opportunities I should really say “no” to. This holiday season, pick out the most important things you want to stick with and say “no” to the rest. This discipline of saying “no” will help you say “yes” to the most important things, including focused time in God’s presence.
- Get accountability. When I was in high school, a friend would call me every morning at 6 am to make sure I was up early enough to have quiet time before school. Nowadays, I have a friend who will regularly ask me how my quiet time is going. She’s there for me to text when I need prayer or encouragement or a kick in the pants. And it helps! Find a friend who wants to dwell deeply, and offer to help one another stay in His presence.
Here’s what Moses said about dwelling:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1
I’m right here with you, friends. It’s hard, but it’s good. SO good. Every moment spent in the presence of the Lord is worth whatever sacrifice it took to get us there. So let’s get ourselves into His presence.
Rest amidst the chaos? It’s possible. In the quiet arms of our Savior.