Simply Sitting in God's Presence

By Rev. Becky Brown | 2022-07-11 | 4 min read

Often times, spending time with God can be more challenging than we think. If you live a busy life, full of wonderful commitments that are exciting or meaningful, it can be difficult to figure out where God fits in. Our souls yearn to simply exist in God’s presence, yet it seems we need to move mountains in order to get there. Why is that? Why do we so often run from God, or choose to spend our free time otherwise?

I have just begun a spiritual growth journey with The School of the Spirit. This commitment is not a light one. It is a yearlong process including independently reading about a dozen books, attending five 2-day re- treats, and participating in a trust circle for group spiritual reflection and direction. I am so grateful for this op- portunity, and I wish everyone could participate in it. Following the first retreat last week, I am convinced that everyone needs to have this experience.

I know we have many sages in our congregation who regularly bask in the presence of God through centering prayer, soaking prayer, and during their individual devotion time. However, I believe there are many more of us who yearn for this time spent with God, but aren’t sure how to make it happen. When is a good time in our busy schedules? How do we even begin? It is much easier to sign up for helping opportunities because our time spent volunteering can be measured with our own eyes. Spending time in God’s presence doesn’t often yield tangible results that we can put our fingers on. Maybe that’s why we avoid committing to resigning ourselves to God’s presence in this way? We are always concerned about wasting our time.

I have to say that I went to the spiritual growth retreat kicking and screaming. Yes, your pastor, me. This wasn’t because I didn’t want to spend this time with God, or that I was afraid of what to expect. It was because I had a hard time letting go of all the things that occupy my time and my thoughts. All the wonderful things about ministry life, family life, and many of the necessary to-dos on the list. Yet, I am so thankful that I showed up. My soul was weary and in need of rest.

Our time, on the retreat, was dedicated to worship, prayer, learning, and reflection. We spent time learning about Lectio Divina – divine reading – that I have shared precious time practicing with some of you already. Yet, it was through these moments of listening to God, and simply being still, that I learned to tune my ear to God’s leading and God’s voice once again. We spent time in centering prayer, and those 20 minutes of silence were glorious. We also had the opportunity to process aloud with one another and to share what we heard God saying to each of us. It was vulnerable and beautiful. The group of 30 people became friends and fellow pilgrims on the journey. The retreat was full of faithful people from all walks of life, different generations and backgrounds, differing theological backgrounds and church affiliations, pastors and church workers, church members and others who aren’t connected to a faith community at all. What I discovered through our diversity was that we all shared something in common – our yearning for God, for a clarity in understanding our purpose, and a hope that God will meet us and lead us on the way.

Now, I begin the dreaming phase. How can we provide opportunities for spiritual growth like the ones I am experiencing through The School of the Spirit? How can FUMC provide the opportunity for spiritual reflection and growth like these? How can we connect one another to these opportunities we already have available? It is absolutely true that we are all in need of God’s presence. If you, yourself are seeking, please come and see me (or give me a call). We could all use a little soul tending.

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