Thursday, May 16, 2013

Seaside Escape, Part 4: "Be Still" vs. "Shut Up!"

Saturday afternoon was free time in which time we were strongly encouraged to get alone and be still before God on a prayer walk. They gave each of us a prayer journal to guide us through the walk, with meaningful stops along the way. The leader had previously put buckets with special objects and prompts at each stop.

The first stop was simply to do nothing but sit quietly and listen. Be still. And know. That. He. is God.

Do you know how hard that is? I thought it would be so much easier at Sandy Cove than at home.  I was wrong.  There were at least four other groups on retreat that weekend--women who wanted to talk. Constantly.

I walked out to the grassy areas that has Adirondack chairs and benches scattered about. I saw a woman from another group sitting in a chair on her laptop. Seriously? You've got the Chesapeake Bay literally in front of your face, but you bury your nose in the computer? What's WRONG with you??

Kept walking and searching for a chair in the sun, away from noisemakers.

I chose a dark red chair that was part of a trio, in the sun,  near the water, with no spider webs or bird poop on the seat. I sat down and spread my book bag and camera bag on the two flanking chairs. I was sending a message, you know. Yes, these seats are taken. All three, by me. So that I can be still and humble myself before the Almighty. 

No sooner had I stretched back and closed my eyes than I hear a woman walk by on her cell phone.  Yack, yack, yack. Really, people? On your cell phone at a retreat?

I wanted to hold up a sign that said, "Put it away and shut up!"

Whew. I  breathed deeply, and asked God to forgive me for wanting to tell everyone, angrily, "JUST SHUT UP!"   This would take a while to get my spirit calm, to feel the peace I was longing for, the quietness, the stillness. God's voice.

"I don't see three chairs together except right there where that lady is," I heard someone several yards behind me say.  I didn't turn around. Pretended to be zoning out.    My selfish heart didn't want to acknowledge their desire to be together for fellowship. I clinched my jaw, furrowed my brow and pouted to God. "I came to be still. They came to talk. Let THEM go somewhere else. I'm staying right here!"  But there was no peace in me with that attitude.  I got up, gathered my Bible, journal, and camera from the other two chairs.

I said, "You all can sit here.  I'll go somewhere else."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure." I said something more about being on assignment to be still before God and it wasn't happening too well.   I'm sure my voice still had that tone.     My self-righteousness was on full display.

The three women plopped down in the sun, and I eventually found only a lonesome bench under a shade tree and had to sit sideways to avoid bird crap.  Hence, my being still before God involved asking for forgiveness, for a thankful heart, for grace to hear Him and not feel like telling all His other kids to shut up.

(to be continued)


Susan Kane said...

Your desire to be alone with God is so very important. Why a cell-phone would be near such a retreat is beyond me!

Beth Zimmerman said...

I am reading Brennan Manning's book about Solitude (don't remember the title). I am so tempted to ask everyone I know if someone has a lake or mountain cabin that I can borrow for a season ... well a week or two ... to get truly alone with God! I've never done that and I think maybe ... my spirit needs it.

Lea Culp said...

Oh, I'm surprised that they did not make it real clear that cellphones, computers and the such were not a part of this retreat. My goodness, we are wayyyyyyyyy to connected!

You certainly did put on your "big girl panties" when you gave up your 3 benches to the ladies. And, yes, I suppose it truly was the right thing to do, but I so understand where you were coming from.

Sweetest blessings to you!