by Drew Joseph
Personally, I’ve always found it difficult to enter into quiet time with the Lord. Sometimes I feel like sitting in silence with the Lord is unproductive, perceiving a lack of response from Him and so choosing to fill that space with prayer or a spiritual reading.
Over the past few months, together with some brothers and sisters from NUS CSS, we’ve chosen to set aside some quiet time during our Sunday evenings to be still with Jesus. It was through these evenings where I realised how uncomfortable it is to sit in silence, which brought me face-to-face with the noise of my interior life. Often these were areas of my heart that I was ashamed of: my brokenness, sin, and inadequacies. Each attempt I made to sit in silence was met by great temptations to run away. However, the more difficult it became, the more I learnt how necessary it was for me to accept Jesus’ invitation to sit in silence.
“It is not easy to enter into the silence and reach beyond the many boisterous and demanding voices of our world and to discover there the small intimate voice saying: “You are my Beloved Child, on you my favor rests.” Still, if we dare to embrace our solitude and befriend our silence, we will come to know that voice. I do not want to suggest to you that one day you will hear that voice with your bodily ears. I am not speaking about a hallucinatory voice, but a voice that can be heard by the ear of faith, the ear of the inner heart.” – Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved
By allowing the ear of my inner heart to be honed by Him, Jesus brought me to reflect on what it meant to spend time in silence with Him. He brought me to realize that silence with Jesus isn’t a time where there is an absence of noise. Instead, it is allowing the Lord to bring greater orderliness to the mess that plagues my heart. Quiet time with Jesus to me now, is inviting the Lord in to sit with the ‘difficult’ parts of my heart, allowing myself to be held by Him and receiving truths that bring forth peace. Just as the Lord met Elijah at Horeb (1 Kings 19), we learn that the movement of God’s spirit is very gentle, very soft, and hidden. Yet, it is a movement that remains persistent, strong, deep, and one that changes our hearts radically. Quiet time with the Lord is granting Him permission to change our hearts and become more attuned with God’s Spirit moving in our lives.
It is also important to remind ourselves that growing in this unity with Jesus is not a journey meant to be walked alone! Often our ear of faith is also grown through God’s Church and the community of faith that God invites us to entrust ourselves to. By growing in communion with others, we also allow our understanding of what it means to abide with Jesus to be sharpened.
“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15: 4-5
We are the branches united in the vine! As we walk in union with one another we learn what it means to be held in our human weakness, to hold others in their brokenness, and to encourage one another to grow in abiding with the Lord. So let us be courageous in allowing ourselves to spend quiet time with Jesus! For we have confidence that this movement of entering into the wilderness of our souls is one made together with Jesus.
“Do not be afraid. Christ knows “what is in man”. He alone knows it. So often today man does not know what is within him, in the depths of his mind and heart. So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair. We ask you therefore, we beg you with humility and trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life.” – Pope John Paul II
Choose a time in your daily schedule and set aside 10-15 minutes to be with the Lord. No Internet, no phone, no music or even reading. Simply allow yourself to be in silence with the Lord!