Friday, January 24, 2014

Spiritual Endorphins

I've actually gone to the gym three times this week, and it's only Thursday. Last week too. I not only have gone to the gym, but I've actually exercised there. I just can't stand looking at that automatic withdrawal in my checking account every week and not make good use of it.

I like the elliptical machine because there is a nice spot for me to prop my Kindle up, and if I get immersed enough in what I'm reading, I (sort of) forget that I'm actually exercising. But it takes awhile to get going. A little while after I start, I look at the clock on the machine to see how long I've been going. I always seem to look at around 8 minutes and I think, "Oh my gosh, is that all? It feels like 20!"

And then, magically, around 10 minutes, the endorphins must kick in, because suddenly, I seem to be pacing myself comfortably and I'm actually concentrating on my book. My breathing settles into a nice rhythm. The exercise doesn't seem so bad by then. Thirty minutes later, I'm actually energized, and I think, "Well, that wasn't so bad."

I think that spending time with God can sometimes be like that. You gasp? How can I possibly say that?! Because it's true! Our flesh fights it. Our flesh tells our head that we have so many other things to do; that we can't possibly spare that half hour (or whatever time you decide on). But our spirit, sensing the need, wants to come before the throne. 

How we approach God can look very differently from person to person and even, in our own lives, from day to day. Sometimes, we may read devotionals, journal and intercede. Some days, we bring our petitions and needs before God. Other times, we search the bible, looking for some answers, or even a certain verse. The hardest thing to do is nothing. To just sit quietly and wait. To listen for our Lord to gently speak. When we finally decide to sit quietly and wait, it can feel like those first 8 minutes on the elliptical. It's so hard, and it feels more like twenty minutes than 8! Can it just be over already?

But when we force ourselves to keep going, to be still, to wait; when we quiet our souls and our minds, suddenly our "spiritual endorphins" kick in and we settle into a comfortable pace. He will quiet you with His love (Zeph 3:17). Our breathing becomes more controlled, as do our emotions. Those thoughts that were clamoring for attention suddenly still, and clattering of our mind settles into a comfortable rhythm of listening. He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul (Ps 23:2). 

Quiet waters are bodies of water that are still. Not a racing stream, not a powerful and thunderous waterfall, but a body of still water. So still that it appears that the water is not moving. How soothing that is. So soothing that it restores our souls. It is only in the quiet can our soul be restored. Once we get past the first few minutes of restlessness and noise, it's not so bad. By the time we are finished, we feel energized. Unlike exercise, which makes me say, "Well, that wasn't so bad," I'm inclined to say, "Wow, that was awesome. Let's do it again soon, God!" I think that makes Him smile. I also think His response to that would be, "Anytime, my child, any time. I'm always here."

Just like the gym.

Blessings Along the Path,

Song/Video of the Day (This is a beautiful quiet piano piece with equally beautiful text in the video---it might just help you jumpstart your quiet time)
Quiet Time With God (James Dering)

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