I received an e-mail from a dear friend and mentor a few weeks ago. At the very end of the e-mail, she gave me one piece of advice: “Do you have time for quiet reflection?” The thought caught me off-guard. Quiet reflection? Of course I do…sometimes…maybe…. The idea is that the Lord created men and women to work. He created people to be active and enjoy life. The Lord also created men and women to, “be still and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10). Reflection is a necessary part of a healthy relationship with Him.
My life tends to be a whirlwind: chiropractic physical therapy, volleyball conditioning, running, biking, riding horses, middle school small group, Campus Life, college group, reading, writing, school, student teaching, work, etc. Every day brings a new adventure, new activities, and a new schedule. The problem with this busy-ness is that people like myself tend to become addicted to it. When a day comes along where there is nothing to do but sit by the pool in the sunshine, relax, and read a book, I welcome it readily. If the next day is the same, that is still somewhat refreshing. By day three, I am bored, fidgety, and ready to do something, anything before I go completely crazy. If I do not have a hundred things to do in a day, I get bored. Thus, when God gives me time for quiet reflection before Him, my own addiction to “doing stuff” prevents me from simply being still before the Lord.
Quiet reflection is valuable in a Christian’s life because it removes us temporarily from the insanity of this world and allows us to look back on what has been before, look at what is, and look at what is to come. Journaling is my primary method of looking back on my attitudes over the last day, week, month, or year and identifying where I have been in idolatry, in sin, or just plain lukewarm (also sin by the way). Yet reflection can not stop there. If reflection is nothing more than looking at myself, it is generally worthless. To be effective, to be of any real value, reflection must center on the phrase, “and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Reflection void of God is merely introverted self-thought. Reflection focused on God is a basis for repentance, worship, and praise. When I look at who I am, then look at who God is, I am immediately humbled. Who am I, that the God of all the universe has chosen me? Who am I to be boasting in my accomplishments, when the God of all the universe makes even my best good deeds to look as utter blackness?
Living a Christ-centered life is nearly impossible without reflection. Idolatry, lukewarmness, and pride do not require deliberately choosing to sin; rather, they are the result of the choice to do nothing–the failure to diligently choose what is right. Unless I continually engage in quiet reflection and meditation on who God is, I quickly become self-absorbed. This causes me to be discontent, prideful, self-centered, ungrateful, discouraged, etc. When I take time each day to, “be still and know that [He] is God,” I remember that God is bigger than my problems, that God is holier than my vain attempts at religion, that God is always good, and that by His grace, I already have everything “necessary for life and godliness” (Psalm 46:10; 2 Peter 1:3).
Regardless of how many things I have to do today, taking time for quiet reflection is a choice that will make or break my day. Choosing to have a good day is difficult if I am in control of my world; when I remember that God is in control of my world, I cannot help but have a good day. Whatever it takes–turning off the computers and cell phones, locking myself in my room, going for a long walk–I will choose to do battle with the devil by choosing to take time to, “be still and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10).