In the beginning of the year, I participated in a workshop dedicated to hearing from the Lord. There were about 25 of us gathered for this purpose and I had my Bible, journal and pen with me. We had a few minutes of instruction with quiet worship music playing in the background and then after the speaker finished, there was just instrumental music for the next 15 minutes. After that all went silent! This morning in the early days of January was to be a silent retreat—a time of communion just between each of us and God.
I had never participated in anything like this before, being in a room filled with people with the expectation of being silent for over two hours. Part of me yearned for this time of silence. There is lots of noise and talking in my life since I am a wife, mom of three growing children and I have many home and church responsibilities. It felt like this was going to be a break! I also felt an excitement of just getting to spend time alone with Jesus and the possibilities of what He might speak to me. One of the things I really wanted from the Lord was a personal word of direction for the beginning of the new year.
As we entered into the silence, I prayed, “Lord speak to me.” I already had in my mind that my word for the year was going to be something like “Adventure”, “Risk it All” or “Dream Big” but what God spoke to me in those hours of quiet stunned me. After writing in my journal, reading scriptures the Spirit led me to and processing some fears I was dealing with, I heard the Lord say to me just the word, “Sustains”. I thought to myself this can’t be my word for the year. “Sustains”, really Lord? That word seems so boring; there’s nothing exciting about “Sustains”. My ideas of what God was going to speak to me were, of course, mine, not His. I actually felt disappointed about it. I knew that at the end of this silent retreat, we would gather back together and share what the Lord had spoken to each of us. Here’s where my pride kicked in. I said to myself, “Lord, how can I say the word I heard is “Sustains”. There’s nothing special about this word and it doesn’t even sound cool.”
After a few minutes of clear recognition that this was what the Lord had been speaking to me, I thought I should at least look up some scriptures pertaining to how God sustains us. I was shocked to discover how many verses are dedicated to God’s sustaining power. As I read, the Lord highlighted one in particular to me. Isaiah 50:4 became the verse that God used to confirm that “Sustains” truly was His word for me in this strategic season. It says, “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.”
All of a sudden my spirit leapt within me. This word that I had discounted as uncool I came to realize was actually very exciting. In those moments of silence, God began to speak to me in a rapid fire sequence about the importance of His sustaining me and how meeting with Him in the mornings of this new year needed to become a priority in my relationship with Him. God’s word was becoming alive to me. At that moment, I was living and experiencing what the scripture says in Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
I’ll never forget that Saturday morning in January where Jesus met me in a totally different way than I thought he would. He spoke to me in the silence of a room filled with people and in a direct and loving way, He both convicted and challenged me. What I thought I needed wasn’t, as it turned out, what I needed at all. I didn’t need a mountain to conquer or a new adventure to seek after but I needed to remember where my strength comes from, that only He could sustain me.
I want to encourage you to look at those places where you may be placing God’s words, His will, His plans in a box you have designed for Him. Where have you put Jesus in a package that you created? My challenge to you is to open up your heart and spend time hearing from your Savior. Steal away some precious moments with Him and see what He says, because it might surprise you and I know it will definitely bless and refresh you.
Our God is so personal to each of us. I often reflect back to that room with the 25 people in it, all in silence, all seeking a word form God and I marvel about how He spoke to each of us--all in a way we each needed, unique and personal. What a great God we have. He truly does sustain us.