In selecting a devotion for today, I was at first going to select something about thankfulness. Over the trip we have said how thankful we are that we are able to be on this trip learning about the world in Europe. I obviously wanted to add to this long list of thanks with a devotion on thankfulness. However, being thankful is not the only thing that comes out of a trip like this. We can become different people through our experiences in culture, business, and personal interaction. God brought us to this point for a reason, and He has a plan for our lives. He wants us to take something from this interim, but we may not necessarily know what. It could be that we have found a renewed sense of thankfulness for what God has given. Perhaps God has opened our minds to different cultures that would enable us to better serve our neighbors near and far. Maybe we have learned how to live in a community better or to care for one another. This list could go on Far too long, and it would take extensive time if it even could be completed.
One of the most refreshing things about this trip was the freedom from the urge to get out my phone. When we got to hotels, or places with free WiFi, we were able to check in with family and friends. The devotion asked us today to put away our phones and to turn off TVs. Additionally, it said to find a place free from business and busyness. This way we can find a space in the room for God. We can reflect on what God has done for us, and we can talk with Him. We can ask what it is in our lives that we should be doing differently. We can ask what about Europe has changed me for life. We can ask God to help us remember our experiences so that they will help us in the future. In keeping away from technology for a while, we can find ourselves free. It was nice being at meals and actually talking without myself, or anyone else, being on their phones.
Today we went to a museum dedicated to Operation Market Garden which you can find a post about on this blog. The devotion applies to this experience not because we are still with God, but we have a chance to see what was wrong with this world in the 1940s. We have seen the sacrifices of men and women, civilian and military, so that freedom can come back to Europe. In our moments of silence with God, we ought to give thanks and praise that we, personally, are mostly free of war. Silence with God can bring peace to a troubled heart. Maybe some of us had troubled hearts from some of the experiences we had today or in the past few weeks.
This devotion called me to have silence with God, and our hotel is currently ideal for it. It’s in the woods somewhere in the Netherlands. It’s not just for here and now, it’s for all times and places. Find a place to be silent with God, ask and listen for what God is communicating to you about your life.
The devotion below is based on Romans 12:1-2.
Be Still. Be Quiet.
Silence is a stranger to most of us. To discover silence, we have to be like Jesus and go off to find a place where we can turn off the cell phone and the TV, a place with no bustling businesses or chattering people to deal with. The Lord calls us to this silence as much as He calls us to be with one another. What should our times of silence and being alone before the Lord consist of? This is where the prayer life of Jesus is such a profound example for us. Jesus shows us that these times of intimacy must first center on being quiet and listening.
We cannot put God in a box and make our relationship with Him a formula. But if we are going to follow the example of Jesus, we must get alone with God and silence ourselves. The silence that He invites us into is a silence of listening, a respectful stillness before our God. This kind of silence brings great joy, clarity, and purity to our lives.
Finding stillness may be one of the greatest challenges in our relationships with Christ and our prayer lives. There are two great hindrances we face every day in our search for stillness: our busy lifestyles and the constant noise of our culture. Are you busy? Where are you on the Facebook addiction scale? Enough said.
As simple as it may seem, we find stillness by making a choice, deciding to sit down away from all the clamor of our life and technology. God bestowed on us free will; it is not an illusion. We are not victims of our culture. We have control over the way we respond to everything that comes our way.
The science of neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to reorganize itself by developing new neural connections) makes it very clear that when we make a decision, we change the matter in our brain. It is the scientific confirmation of God’s Word: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23: 7). Every time we steal away with the Lord in quiet retreat, we transform and renew our minds and conform to the communication pathways of the kingdom (Romans 12: 1-2). And it is in the stillness that our zeal for the Lord and His ways is given the chance to grow.