For 31 days I have been going against my very nature. As I have focused on the qualities of keeping a quiet heart for this month, I have worked largely without a plan. I mapped out ideas as the beginning of the month, different Scriptures or thoughts I’d like to explore.
But each day I came to my computer or journal with that list and just asked God what He wanted me to write. I wanted my writing to be in the moment, recording what He was actually teaching me every day.
It was so draining for a Type-A, ISFJ, Enneagram 1, and perfectionist planner to work this way! There was also a strange freedom I found in it.
I tend to like to know the plan ahead of time. Actually, I like to make the plan, to be in control.
God knew this when He created me as a writer. Maybe it is why he gave me this gift.
This writing world is strange and goes by anything but a plan. You can send out a pitch to a magazine and not hear back from them for a couple months (as in, you forgot you even pitched what article you pitched to them by the time you got a response!) You may get a piece accepted that you love and after the edits you don’t even recognize your words anymore.
This writing journey has helped me let go of the plan more than I ever dreamed possible. Now if I could just do that in the other areas of my life!
I find I have to constantly ask myself one question - Are you looking to the future or to the One who holds the future in His hands?
This is a season in my life where I am faced with a lot of unknowns. I come each day to an empty page and try to make order out of the chaos that characterizes my heart most days.
I am clinging for dear life to the wisdom of Elisabeth Elliot who said, “Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now.”
I know my heart will never really be quiet if I am anxious about what tomorrow holds.
As we all walk on towards keeping a heart that is quiet before God, that trust the future into His hands, may the words of Colossians 3.15 be my prayer for you.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”
So, I release these words out into the world each day and I pray that God would change me through writing them. Maybe He will even give me the incredible gift of knowing that reading them helped someone.
And tomorrow I will do it all over again. Well, maybe not tomorrow. It is November tomorrow. Write 31 Days is over and I think I need a nap…
When I was young, both in maturity and in my faith, I threw myself into my walk with Christ with abandon. I wanted to soak up every bit of knowledge about God I could, to do as much for Him as possible. I wanted to be around believers constantly, to be a part of the church I had never experienced as a small child.
When I got my wish and was around believers constantly…and my faith was utterly shaken.
I quickly saw hypocrisy in the friends who knew all the “Christianese” to speak at church but who were equally adept in keeping up with our high school culture of sex and drugs.
In college, I witnessed the pervasive speeches about the love of Christ given by campus ministry students literally right next to the guys set up in the student center berating those with different beliefs. All in the name of Jesus.
My heart cried out to return to the church I had left as God drew me back to Himself but I was shaken by what I saw in others, in the church, in beliefs I couldn’t hold to.
I found a group of girls to meet with weekly and we prayed together, struggled together over all kinds of theology and faith issues. I found the reality of believers being real about their faith and I saw something for the first time.
Our theology can change over time. I can sit in the same room with someone who doesn’t hold to each tenant of my particular denomination as we worship the same Jesus. There are a lot of issues we get hung up on in the church that make us throw up our hands and walk away or that make us push others away that don’t believe exactly as we do.
Cultures shift. People grow. All of those little issues that divide us really don’t matter at all. There is one thing that is unshakeable.
His name is Jesus Christ.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” says Hebrews 13.8.
“What do I most unshakably believe in?” asked Elisabeth Elliot. “God the Father Almighty. Jesus Christ His only Son. The Holy Ghost, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, the life everlasting. Not a long list, but all we need.”
My heart is full of confusion and pain when I forget this and look to the individual issues and the people around me to define what I believe. To have a quiet heart, I have to look to that short list of what really matters and keep my heart tethered there.
God says in Malachi 3.6 “I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”
The shifting sands all around us can either consume us or we can choose to stand upon the rock of the Unshakeable One.
Thank you for joining me in this journey towards keeping a quiet heart!
You have just a couple more days to enter to win a copy of Elisabeth Elliot's Keep a Quiet Heart. Enter through October 31 and a winner will be chosen November 1.
I love my husband, my kids, my home, and my life. But I have this dream.
I have a whole day to myself to spend with God alone, in prayer, journaling, or just resting and reflecting. Every now and then my amazing husband makes sure I get one of these days. At least once a year I get away for at least part of a day spent in this way. I wish I could do it weekly instead…
Because this world is so full of noise. My mind is so full of noise. Most days I feel pulled in a thousand different directions and so often lately one of those directions is not towards prayer.
In this season of my life I know exactly what Elisabeth Elliot meant when she said, “Prayer is no easy pastime. As I grow older I find that I am more conscious than ever of my need to pray, but it seems at the same time to become more of a struggle.”
Whether it is a child calling out or a deadline looming, a lunch to be made or an appointment to be kept, it seems there is always something pressing.
For me, this is why prayer can become a struggle and my heart can become cluttered with thoughts and worries instead of kept quiet by prayer and surrender.
If I get distracted in my day and forget to pray, then I feel guilty for having forgotten and the vicious cycle begins. I feel unable to come to God because I should have remembered to pray first. So, my shame over thinking I should know better keeps me from the throne of God. I can go a whole day this way, running from prayer.
But here’s the thing – God never said prayer would be easy. Even those closest to Jesus asked Him to teach them to pray because they weren’t certain how.
No matter whether we feel the prayers rolling off our tongues easily throughout the day or we feel hard pressed to utter a word, we must continue struggling. It’s our lifeline to God, the way we stay connected to the Good Father who is waiting to hear our hearts.
Romans 12.12 says for us to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Does patience come easily in times of affliction? I don’t know about you but it doesn’t for me. And neither does faithfulness in prayer. But the struggle is so worth it!
Prayer itself can be a wrestling with God. If we are really coming to Him with the deep needs and desires of our hearts, we won’t just be uttering platitudes. We will be struggling against the flesh and against the darkness.
Keep struggling. Keep fighting for a heart that can lay it all down before God, quiet and resting in Him.
“Please accept my distractions, my fatigue, my irritations, and my faithless wanderings. You know me more deeply and fully than I know myself. You love me with a greater love than I can love myself…Look at me, see me in all my misery and inner confusion, and let me sense your presence in the midst of my turmoil…Take my tired body, my confused mind, and my restless soul into your arms and give me rest, simple quiet rest.” - Henri Nouwen
Thank you for joining me in this journey towards keeping a quiet heart. This last week I will be giving away a copy of the book that God used to prompt me to seek hard after the qualities of a quiet heart. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway and a winner will be chosen at random on November 1 to receive Elisabeth Elliot's Keep a Quiet Heart.
It is reasonable to believe that the One who made the worlds, including this one and us who live in it, is willing to teach us how to live. He "became flesh" in order to show us, day by day, as He walked the lanes of Galilee, and the streets of Jerusalem, how to live in company with God. - Elisabeth Elliot
I always knew Christ was fully God and fully man, though that is one of those aspects of theology I didn't think too much about. It is too much for the mind to fully grasp, one of those things I just took on faith that I would understand one day but it didn't matter too much to me now. All I needed to know is He was my life, how his humanity and deity merged didn't change how I felt about following Him.
But then I was sitting in the place where this God-man preached and lived and I was being taught about His life, much like He taught His followers. As the cool spring breeze drifted off the Sea of Galilee onto us in Capernaum, we listened to the teacher talk to us about the humanity and deity of Jesus. Something shifted for me in that moment.
He talked about how Christ was fully Human and how his deity was "veiled" while He lived on this earth. He never stopped being God but to live fully among us, He became fully man as well. And not just fully man but the embodiment of the perfect human. He had to stay connected to the Father to receive His "marching orders," how to live His life. In the words of 1 John 1.1, "the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us."
I always knew it was my life's goal as a follower of Christ to live a life that looked like His. But somehow when I really knew that He didn't come to earth just to save me but to show me the perfect human life, how one can really "live in company with God," I saw Him in a whole new light.
The Second Adam lived as man was created to live before He fell out of communion with God. He lived as we one day will live when all is restored.
Sarah Bessey says it so beautifully in her soon to be released book Out of Sorts, "Because He was fully and completely human, he is our perfect example of the humanity we were meant to embody as we move through this life."
We see how He moved through life with a heart that was never troubled because He stayed in constant connection with His Father, knowing He was in full control. He grieved with people. He had compassion on His sheep without a shepherd. But He lived with a heart so intertwined with the heart of God, that it was not at unrest.
A quiet heart, like the heart of Jesus, is one that keeps company with God at all times. He had that quiet heart and our perfect Jesus living in us offers it to us as well. May we look to Him to show us how to have and keep that quiet heart!
Saturdays on 31 Days of a Quiet Heart I will be highlighting a quote or idea from the book that inspired the series, Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot.
I will be giving away a copy of this book during the last week of the series, so keep reading! The series isn't based on the book but God used it to inspire the thinking that lead me to seek after the qualities of a quiet heart for this month. That is something I always saw exemplified in Elisabeth Elliot's writings and something I always admired in her and yearned for in my own life. I will keep diving into some thoughts inspired by the book.
Stay with me - 4 more Saturdays to go!
When I started A Voice in the Noise, one thing I felt was a need for a space that was a place of focus in all the fuss. I felt like there was noise everywhere, competing for space in my head. I needed to hear a voice break through it all. I needed to hear His voice.
When I thought about what I wanted to write about this October for the Write 31 Day challenge, I just started praying about what I wanted to hear from God on for a straight month. What am I needing most from Him, yearning for Him to teach me?
I have a small bookshelf by my bed and on it are the books I want to read but haven't found the time to. Every now and then I will grab one and spend a few minutes in it, spare minutes that are hard to come by. Lately any time I have for reading is spent on blogs or magazines at which I am submitting or reading friend's writing in and in books by exciting and ground-breaking new authors.
The simple cover on this book definitely didn't scream exciting. But the title leapt out at me just the same. I didn't make it past the introduction before I took a deep breath and knew this was the thought on which I wanted to spend the next month. The book that inspired me was by one of my heroes of the faith, Elisabeth Elliot.
In the introduction she shares a prayer that she wrote in 1947, which is my prayer today as well:
Lord, give me a quiet heart
That does not ask to understand,
But confident steps forward in
The darkness guided by Thy hand.
For these 31 days, that is my prayer for myself and for all of you reading. I want to learn more about having a quiet heart before the Lord. I want to receive from Him - not His answers, but Himself. I want to stop all the noise in this space and get to a place where I can confidently step forward, knowing that I am guided by His hand.
Please pray for me as I write, that these words will be what I am learning from trying to truly have a quiet heart before my Savior. Some people write all their 31 day posts ahead of time but I want to truly be on this journey with you and will be writing every day and posting it the next. It is a little nerve-wracking having people join me on this journey when I am committing to write for 31 days and I don't have the words yet. I am trusting Him to show up and speak. And I am grateful for those that will be coming along with me.
I usually send weekly emails on Monday, even if I post more than once a week. For those of you that are following along on my email list who will be getting daily emails for a month, thank you. These will be shorter than my usual blogs. At the end of the 31 days I will be giving away a copy of the book that inspired me to seek God in this way, stay tuned for the giveaway!
Let's spend this month together working to keep a quiet heart...