Sunday, May 16, 2010

Up the Mountain

I sat on the floor of a vacant room last week and listened to the sound of my breathing. No pen, no paper, no Bible in hand, I had been challenged by a friend to sit for an hour in silence and solitude before God. This all seemed rather ridiculous to me at first. How could I meet with God without even his Word in hand? But the sound of my simple breaths brought me to tears.

I heard a preacher say once that the Hebrews didn't really have a phonetic name they could give God. Yaweh was the closest they could come because the name of God was the sound of breath, inhalation and exhalation. In the simple act of breathing, a person is declaring the name of God over and over again. But so often, I don't take the time to breathe. I feel like I have to do and do and do over again. I measure my life by the impact it has, and though I feel impact is important, in the midst of seeking to touch others, have I forgotten to touch God?

A few weeks ago, I watched the movie The Count of Monte Cristo for the first time. I wanted to leave the room when Edmund Dantes was thrown into prison, not because it's a horrifically gory piece of the movie, but because he sat there for seven years and didn't do anything. I found myself wondering what he had left to live for if he was just going to sit there for the rest of his life and impact no one. And although, I firmly believe that we are created for relationship in our lives, God convicted me that I was forgetting about the most important relationship of them all--my relationship with Him. Maybe sometimes I'm so concerned about ministering to others, that I forget to sit with God and minister to Him and allow Him to minister to me. I focus so much on the doing and not the being, and even when I spend time with God, it's to do and not be. I play a worship song, or write in my journal, or sit and read the Bible all in an effort to make God think the best of me or to prove something to Him. And I forget it's He who initiated, He who first took the step towards me, and no amount of work will change what He's already done. It's like I want to earn what He has already freely given.

I've been thinking a lot lately about Moses and how he spent forty days and forty nights with God on Mount Sinai. He took nothing up the mountain--it was just him and God alone together in a quiet place. God invited Moses and the people of Israel into a covenant relationship as Moses sat alone with God, and God spoke to him as a man speaks with a friend. When Moses came down the mountain, he carried the presence of God with him and the presence of the God came to rest on the people. This is how all the nations of the world knew there was something different about the Israelites: the presence of God went with them.

I'm coming to realize I can't earn God's favor, I can accept it; I can't work for his grace, I can receive it; and I can't love God unless I allow Him to first love me. I've always wanted my life to be measured by my love for God and my love for others, but now I'm seeing things differently. How can I love God and others if I'm not first loved by God? My prayer is that I would learn to not only love God but to be loved by God. From that place impact will flow as my heart becomes His.

So I hear the invitation to come up the mountain, and as I take a moment to slow down and listen to the sound of my breathing, I know that I am because of I Am.