God had told me I needed to learn how to rest. Not knowing what in the world He was talking about, I was on the lookout for a Hawaiian getaway. As I was about to find out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Step one, I was about to learn, was to develop a baseline or reference point, an experience of silence and stillness for my relationship with God.
My very first experience of rest came in the wee hours of the morning, and was related to the fact that that I hated stillness and silence.
I had never availed myself to the awareness of the inner presence of the Holy Spirit within me for more than a couple of minutes. Remember, I hated silence with a passion and stillness was my greatest nemesis.
However, I was about to discover the most profoundly spiritual practice—one that would change my life.
I was about to quit. I was about to do nothing. And my life was about to be revolutionized!
This, I have since found, is one of the most difficult things for any human being to do. It may be easier for some to climb the snow-capped, oxygen-deprived peak of Mt. Everest than to do nothing and just be.
A friend suggested one morning that we sit and meditate on the presence of God. I agreed. The duration of time was pre-determined to be 20 minutes.
The only objective was to meditate on this amazing truth: “Be still and know that I am God.” For 20 minutes, I was to focus and be consciously aware of the fullness of His presence in me. To meditate.
As God said, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”
Those are much more than just words on a page. They are far more dynamic than an impressive slogan. They are real, tangible realities to be experienced with actual senses, not just the mind.
That meant no praying and no entertaining incoming thoughts aiming to bump me back into chaos. I was simply to rest in a meditative state of consciousness where every cell, molecule, and atom in my body was being commanded to stand at attention and realize the current fullness of the presence of God. The objective was to be still—eyes closed—and be quiet with the Lord for the entire 20 minutes.
So I embarked on this painfully simple journey.
The first few minutes were some of the most difficult moments of my life.
It’s astounding to find out how many things are floating around in your subconscious mind, wanting to play a game of “hinder the progress” right as you try to get still.
Thoughts, pictures, and sounds bombarded me from every direction.
I would entertain one of them, and it would take me down a rabbit hole, and before I realized it, I was far from being present.
This happened several times until; finally, I made the willful decision that enough was enough. I was going to rest in the Lord, going to receive His wonderful gift, no matter what.
With a new sense of determination, I realized it would be beneficial to ask God for the empowering grace to be able to take captive the incoming thoughts dead-set on bombarding my inner environment (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Once I made the decision and asked for the empowerment, the assistance was not far behind.
Before I knew it, the Holy Spirit had equipped me with the wisdom I needed to take captive the barrage of distracting thoughts.
Slowly, I began to sink into a state with which I was not very familiar. The descent was accompanied by an ever-increasing joy and peace.
Eyes closed, able to see in the spirit, I could see a cloud beginning to accumulate inside my person, coming from my lower torso area.
It steadily rose, and, as it did, I became more and more overcome by the intoxicating reality of the glory of God.
It was tangible and had a beautiful substance to it.
As it approached the level of my neck and continued toward my head, I wondered if, when it engulfed my head, would it kill me.
“Are you going to kill me?” I asked God. I wondered, “Could His tangible goodness really snuff me out?”
The cloud rose higher and higher until it consumed my head. It did not stop at my head. I was gone—overwhelmed by the Spirit. While it did not kill me, I was filled for the very first time in my life, with the awareness that I was already dead. I suddenly knew that I had died and was risen with Christ. I was alive! Fully alive!
For the first time, this transforming truth of Galatians 2:20 was not a theory but an intoxicating reality.
In typical God fashion, I was given the experience prior to the understanding.