Monday, March 26, 2012

Be Quiet


What emotion do you feel when you are surrounded by silence? Relief? Peace? Fear? Are you ever actually surrounded by silence in your life?

I have spent the past three Sunday afternoons in silence at a local arboretum. The weather has been fantastic in the Midwest, so part of me just wanted to get outside and enjoy the unusual warmth. I also love God’s creation and seeing little bits of Him in His handiwork. Creation is like us looking at a painting and seeing a little bit of the artist in it. We learn things about the painter from observing his work. When I spend time in God’s creation, I get to know Him a little better. I see His orderliness, His sense of humor and His flair for the dramatic. Have you ever stopped to look at the intricacy of a tree leaf or the amazing colors displayed in a sunset? Really look?

The main reason I decided to spend time in silence these past weeks was to connect with God better. I don’t often take enough time to listen to God throughout the week. I usually do all the talking. (Does this surprise anyone?) Sometimes, I just need to be quiet and listen.

Silence, though, can be intimidating. In fact, in America, I believe that tuning out silence is an epidemic. For many, our fear of silence is why we always have the television on or why the radio goes on the moment we start the ignition in our cars or why we sleep with a fan. Perhaps it’s not really the silence we’re afraid of as much as it’s ourselves that we’re avoiding. We are comfortable in our shallowness. We don’t want to go deeper because deeper means being vulnerable and open and we don’t want to get hurt.

There are lots of things that God talks to me about in the silence that I don’t want to hear. Sometimes He gently rebukes me about some sin in my life or urges me – again – to do something that I’ve been neglecting. However, there are other times when He whispers a kind word of encouragement or just tells me how much He loves me. If I’m not taking the time to get quiet and listen to Him, I can’t change the stuff He wants me to change, but I also can’t hear His heart of love. I am slowly learning not to resist silence.

What would you encounter if you decided to be quiet? Would God remind you of someone you need to forgive or someone you hurt? Maybe the silence would allow you time to work out your doubts or ponder your next step after your dreams have been dashed. Maybe He wants to encourage you or show you something wondrous in His creation. Maybe He just wants to say, “I love you.”

Whatever God has for you, don’t avoid the silence. Embrace it. Make time for it. Incorporate it into your life as a regular practice. Psalm 62:5 says, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone, my hope comes from him.”[1] Our hope comes from God; shouldn’t we take some time to at least thank Him for that? Find a place where you can rest and open your heart to what God has to say to you. You will be blessed.

If you took an hour to be silent with God today, what do you think He would say to you? Why not take a walk and find out?

Copyright ©2012 by Cherry Lyn Hoffner. You may not reproduce this post in any form without permission. However, linking to this post is encouraged.

[1] New International Version 1984 (NIV1984) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

One More Day with Jesus

On March 2 this year, I reached a milestone. As of that day, I have walked one more day with Jesus than without Him. I have lived as a Christian longer than I lived as an unbeliever. Why is that so significant to me? Here are a few reasons:

Grateful for Perseverance

There's a song by Hillsongs Australia (1992) entitled, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" that has this line, "Jesus, lover of my soul/Jesus, I will never let you go." I get a little twinge when I sing that line. Can I really sing that with integrity? Will I really hold on to the end? Will there be a time in my walk where I think there's a better alternative? I don't know. But I do believe in the "perseverance of the saints," meaning that those who truly belong to the Lord will persevere to the end. So if I am truly His, I have nothing to fear.

In any case, I have somehow managed to stick with Jesus for more than 20 years now - despite losing friends who didn't understand my choice to follow Him; despite the woman who led me to Christ subsequently turning away from the faith because of Christians who treated her unkindly; despite messing up relationships with family members who were right to question my early legalistic brand of Christianity; despite hospital visits and financial trials and nagging doubts and my husband's unemployment and the pain of watching our sister-in-law lose her battle with melanoma.

Why did I stick it out? Even though I was a "Little Miss Goody Two Shoes" before I met Jesus, my life still felt empty and dark and unstable without Him. I longed for life to make sense. When I met Jesus, it did. It didn't mean the pain went away or life got easier, but it meant having someone by my side to guide me and love me unconditionally and talk to when I needed a friend. I think the bottom line is that whenever I thought about giving up on Jesus, I couldn't think of a single thing I would gain from doing it...and a whole lot that I would lose.

Longing for the New Earth

One more day with Jesus also means I'm one day closer to living in the New Earth. Eternity can seem pretty scary regardless of your destination when you think that it's FOREVER. That's a very long time. When I first became a believer I remember being really freaked out about heaven. I wasn't sure that I wanted to be anywhere FOREVER. But over the years, I've heard more teaching on the New Earth and how we get to live in a totally restored and renewed earth. Now that's something I can get excited about! 

There's so much of the world I haven't seen, and likely won't see before I die, but when it's restored, I can see it all and take all eternity to do it! And I get to do it with Jesus and Christians from all over the world - some that I have never even met! Who wants to see the Grand Canyon? Hawaii? Europe? 

In that day, the Son will be our sun. His glory will light the whole earth. Jesus Himself will prepare a special place for each of us.  Personally, I'm hoping mine includes a gorgeous garden full of flowers bursting in bloom and a quiet babbling brook leading to a lazily lapping lake. And I wouldn't mind some mountains and a peaceful forest in the background. I can't wait!

An Opportunity to Grow

One more day with Jesus also means I have another opportunity to grow and mature and live the way He wants me to live. I love Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV), "Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil." What a grace each new day is! Every day, I have one more opportunity to sit at the Lord's feet and listen. I have one more day to love Him better; one more day to serve; one more day to pray; one more day to worship; one more day to learn and grow. Today is a day that I can choose to move forward with Jesus.

If you are walking with Jesus, what are some of the reasons you are glad to have one more day with your Savior?

Copyright ©2012 by Cherry Lyn Hoffner. You may not reproduce this post in any form without permission. However, linking to this post is encouraged.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Why I'm "Minding My Matters"

I love to play with words; can you tell? You don’t have to know me long to know that I love crossword puzzles and word games. One of the best characteristics of the English language (yes, it does have some redeeming qualities) is the ability we have to engage in word play – and I simply couldn't resist the urge to include it in my blog’s title.

What is Minding My Matters about? I want to work out spiritual truth in my life. I’m in theological overdrive and I need to talk about it. There are not many things I enjoy more on this earth than a long conversation that goes deep, and deep into the night. You know what I’m talking about – the conversations you have with your best friend…or the total stranger sitting next to you on a plane. With all of our technological advances, we’re longing more and more for personal human interaction. Yet, we often sacrifice depth of relationship for convenience and speed and stuff that we really don’t even care about.

What are some of my “matters” that need working out? I want to live my life with more intentionality and focus, but I am so easily distracted. I want to trust God more, but all too often I trust in my own striving first. I want to defeat the monster of perfectionism, but unless I hit “publish,” the perfectionism is still winning. (I’m really hoping for a small victory, right now!)

Of course, sometimes those late-night conversations drift into the less serious side as well. Maybe we’ll talk about the joy of harvesting vegetables you grew with your own two hands. We could touch on what I’m learning from my cat. Or perhaps we could wonder at the sheer vastness of a clear night sky.

Whatever the conversation, let’s agree to have it. Grab your beverage of choice, and let’s sit down once a week (give or take) in this virtual world, and chat (I write, you comment). Let’s be honest and vulnerable; encouraging and respectful. Let’s grow into the people God made us to be. We’ll laugh and cry and maybe even argue. But let’s decide right now that we’re going to work out the things in our lives that need working out and start enjoying the good stuff.

Will you join me in “minding our matters”?

Copyright ©2012 by Cherry Lyn Hoffner. You may not reproduce this post in any form without permission. However, linking to this post is encouraged.