I came to the realization this week that I observe so many new things everyday, but because I do not acknowledge them, I fail to really learn them. Sometimes when I am distracted by too many ideas, concerns or questions floating around in my brain, I just start journaling and when I finish I am always amazed at how much God was teaching me! I wonder how much I am missing out on when I just push thoughts away and don't fully work through them? Yikes! The same thing happens when I simply talk out loud. When I am able to discuss what's on my mind with a friend or even just talk out loud to myself... not that I do that : )
I have really been learning a lot lately! I just finished a summer program on spiritual formation through the ISF program at Biola and it blew my mind out of the water!!! I learned some HUGE new concepts that I can't believe no one has ever told me before! The most impactful thing I learned was about the link between the Holy Spirit and my heart. There is so much teaching done in Christian circles about God, Jesus and the Bible, but everyone is so afraid of being called charismatic that we neglect teaching about the Holy Spirit! We hear sermons that say, "do this" and "don't do that," and we try our hardest to follow, but we fail over and over again and somewhere beneath the words of the sermon, we get this message that says, " just try harder next time." We've got this idea that if we just obey the ten commandments, we'll draw closer to God, but in fact its been flipped upside down completely! If we draw near to God, the outcome will be an obedient lifestyle that glorifies Him. Now, even this you may have heard before, but how do you do it? This is what I've learned to be called the "sanctification gap." Its the gap between knowing your sinful and wanting to be sanctified, but not knowing how to get there. This, my friend is where the Holy Spirit comes in.
Have you every tried to just stop everything... COMPLETELY and try to hear God speak, but sort of wonder if you're just hearing your own thoughts? I know that whenever the pastor asks the congregation to just sit and listen to God in church I wonder if I'm just hearing my own thoughts and I think I am : ) I know His Word well enough that I can come up with logical biblical answers to most of my questions, but this is NOT a relationship! God doesn't want me to schedule in time to hear Him speak or give Him a time limit in which he can speak! In fact, my life before these two classes I just took was too busy to hear God speak. It was not until after days of hours of solitude that I realized how far my head was from my heart! My mind was soooo well trained and my heart had never learned to speak. I am just now learning for the very first time to hear the Holy Spirit speak through my heart and lead me through life and it is transforming my prayer life through silence.
In the past, I have so often caught myself apologizing to God over and over again for getting distracted during prayer, but this was all wrong. The Bible says, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." If my mind is traveling during prayer, its because I am obviously using my mind to pray instead of my heart. I had never been told before a few weeks ago to follow the rabbit trails in my prayers. This sounded crazy, but now it makes sense. If I'm distracted by other thoughts, then THAT is where my heart is and THAT is what I need to be talking to God about. As I dig into these distractions during prayer I am finding the truest parts of my heart! These are the areas God wants to work in. He already knows the roots of all my fears and frustrations, but until I acknowledge them, I cannot surrender them to Him and He cannot have those areas of my heart. As I find more and more of these unsurrendered areas of my heart and truly give them to God, he will take a stronger hold on my heart and be a louder voice in my life. This is all so new, but it makes so much more sense than trying to honor a God that I don't really know by following a list of rules that get so confusing sometimes. Now its just a matter of sitting in silence and letting the Spirit speak through me in every situation, conversation and relationship. He's doing CRAZY things in my life right now!