Life is busy and we sometimes become stuck in a rut with our faith. To find time to pause; then to rely on God and cast our burdens to him is challenging when so many voices in the world give you a different message. I yearn to find ways to connect more deeply to God! I want to experience faith and sense God’s presence in my life in new ways. And I want to share those moments with my son and daughter; to show them that faith is a lifetime journey!
Over the last year I’ve had unique opportunities to connect with God in different ways – some brand new, some with surprising results. Last fall I did something called Audio Divina. A group of us gathered in a small, quiet space, closed our eyes and listened to a piece of music (Bach – Cello Suites No 3 – performed by Jean-Guihen Queyras). We listened four separate times, focusing our mind on something different each time through.
You may have heard of Lectio Divina. This is a traditional practice of reading and meditating on scripture to draw closer to the living word of God. It is typically done through four steps – read, meditate, pray and contemplate. The first time I did Lectio Divina, it felt very comfortable – and I felt naturally drawn to the divine. Lectio Divina is reading, writing and reflecting – my favorite things to do!
However, this new approach – this “Audio Divina” idea – was brand new. Instead of studying a certain verse or passage from Scripture as we do in Lectio Divina, we listened to music – an attempt to HEAR God. The concept was strange and foreign! I enjoy music, but it is not my passion. As we started, I did not think it would be an emotional experience for me, and I was unsure how I would actually experience God’s presence in this. But I decided to go along for the ride.
But a surprise to me and everyone with me – the experience ended up being far deeper than I could imagine – or explain. And the people present in that moment with me saw a vulnerable and emotional side that I very rarely share!
About our third time through I closed my eyes and settled deep into my seat to listen to the music again – not sure where God would take me. I began with this image of God holding my hand through life. At the beginning of the piece, God’s touch was a peaceful, gentle, calm guidance. As the music – as life! – became more intense, God’s grip on my arm is tighter. At times it felt as though God was pulling me through – as if I’m fighting to pull away from his grip!
I don’t have the words to explain how intense this moment was for me – when the song ended, I could barely speak and tears flowed. (Seriously – I do not cry in front of other people! This was so out of my comfort zone!) I felt thankful for a God that pulls me through, shame for putting up a fight in the first place, hope and peace considering the intense love and comfort God provides! Ultimately, the divine message in that moment: do not fear! Allow God to pull you through with ease; to maintain His gentle touch and warm closeness!
I walked away from that with new perspective. I’d found the presence of God in a way I did not expect! Yet – at the time I did not share this moment with my kids. A missed opportunity… Well, it is documented now! I can read this to my 7-year-old tonight, and find some creative way to explain what it feels like to find God’s presence to my 3-year-old. This faith thing is a life-long journey; seek God through it all and you may be surprised where you find him!
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9