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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Need A Good Soaking? I Do

      Soaking…sounds like a bath doesn’t it.  Something you need to get into to make your stressed body relax and let your mind take you out of the real world to some imaginary place.   You expect to hear “Calgon…. take me away!!!!” …. but that’s not the soaking I’m interested in. 

     The word soak or a variant of it is found in Psalm 65:10 in the Christian Standard Bible version, it states:
    You soften it with showers and bless its growth,
soaking its furrows and leveling its ridges.

     This scripture is speaking of the earth, the land.  It’s easy to understand that this soaking is such that it changes the very landscape.  Furrows and ridges are brought down.  However, many have probably not heard of the Christian Standard Bible version so let me assuage any concerns.  Whether you look to the King James, the Amplified, the American Standard, the English Standard or the New International Version, you will find drench, and soften with such an understanding that the furrows and ridges are settled by an abundance of water.  So, for my purposes I have no concerns over using the word soak for it means to slake the thirst of, to satiate, to satisfy, to water abundantly.  A land that is softened by showers and whose furrows are soaked to the point of leveling the land is truly a land whose thirst for water has been satisfied. 

     So, let me ask the question that this is pointing towards, 
Are you satisfied? 
Has your thirst been slaked?
Satiated? 
Do you feel abundantly watered? 
Or do you feel like a land that is waiting for that rain, 
waiting for those showers to fall?

     There have been many times in my life that I have felt like my life was a dry desert, a wilderness in which nothing grew well but weeds.  Where I felt I was either deaf and incapable of hearing God or else he just wasn’t speaking to me.   

The problem is, I would never shut up!  

     It was ingrained in me that prayer was just me talking to God but that is so wrong!  Prayer is a conversation, a dialogue but we have turned it into a monologue.  When we are done talking we shut down, walk away and then wonder why God isn’t talking to us.   
 
copyright Voice From The End of Town
Truth is – God doesn’t have a problem talking to us…. we have a problem listening.  


     Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10) comes to mind and while that scripture in context comes out of a revelation that God is our refuge and strength, there are other scriptures that also speak of getting still or being silent.  Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us there is a time to speak and a time to be silent, Psalm 37:7 says to be still and wait patiently, Psalm 62:5 says to wait in silence, Job says, teach me and I’ll be silent. 

I think the scripture I would turn to most here is Psalm 131:2, 
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
This is what I see when I think of soaking.  This is what my spirit, my soul, my mind, my very being needs.   

BUT, where is there and how do I get there?
     There” is a place of contentment, in the arms of my provider, totally and fully dependent on his care for me.  
     How” do I get there is dependent on me, so for the rest of this post I’ll tell you what I do and how I got to this place of “soaking.”

For me, silence on my part is of the utmost importance as is the lack of distraction.  I will go to a place where I can be alone or with a small group of others of like mind.  I choose Christian songs that bring me a sense of peace and calmness so of course no upbeat music but I don’t want to go to sleep necessarily either.  The music is loud enough to give a buffer to everything outside the place I’m in or at, but not loud enough to demand the whole of my attention.  

 I sit or stand or lay down or lean on or up against something, whatever will hinder distractions at that time and is comfortable.  I then begin to think about the words of the song that is playing, how it lines up with the word of God.  I may pray ‘in my mind’ never speaking out loud unless I’m moved to do so.  But, for the most part, I silence my thoughts, asking God in silence to speak to me however he chooses.  I ask him to help me hear what I’ve been to busy to hear and then soak till I’m sated in the presence of God.  

Most of the time I close my eyes but not every time.  I’m not looking for a feeling, I want to silence my flesh.  I want to spend time in God’s presence where I’m not constantly asking for what I can get from God.  It’s not about money, healing, or provisions, it’s not about what I can see, taste or touch… etc.…. I just want to crawl up in His arms and hear His heartbeat till I no longer hear my own.

For me, this soaking originally began with a few women of the church coming together for a group prayer but none of us felt stirred to immediately begin praying so we sat in silence, but my mind kept going everywhere else.  To corral or to take captive my mind and my thoughts I played some worshipful songs off my phone and as we were moved under the unction of the Holy Spirit we vacillated between sitting in silence and praying out loud for issues and people in the church we didn’t even know about.   


There have been times after that where a few ladies and I agreed to go to the church sanctuary and “do the same thing” for an hour, like that first time, only to find three and a half hours have passed.  I and others have “lost” ourselves as some might say and it didn’t take long before we started calling it “soaking.”  It just seemed the right word to explain what we experienced.  Some were healed, some walked away with peace, others with God ideas for business, church or personal issues, some with scriptural understanding but each walked away drenched to the core with God’s presence.  They walked away changed…. even if it was just the landscape of their minds, the furrows and ruts of physical, emotional and/or mental habits broken and remolded in His presence.  

I have heard some talk of this as a new age ‘thing’ that can open you up to bad “things,” such as demonic influences.  Others have tried to say it comes from eastern mysticism or it is all about feelings and sensations you get.  But that’s not it.  

It has never been about sensations or feelings, at least not for myself.  If you have concerns over this, I’m not going to tell you what to think but I will say this.  Early in my life I was extremely concerned about hearing the word meditation in the church and it really bothered me every time I heard it.  It bothered me because I grew up with only one understanding that those who “meditated” were involved in New Age religion, eastern religions or cultish and/or mystic rites and rituals.  However, the bible repeatedly tells us to mediate on God’s word which is to ponder, reflect, think about and study.  I eventually came to the realization that we make a big mistake when we let the world take away and re-invent in its own image gifts given to us by God.  Meditation on God, His word, His actions, His demonstrations, is one of those gifts and we should use it with care as anything can be abused and twisted.

For me, this “soaking” is not an emptying of my mind but a filling of it with God.  It is not about controlling my breathing but giving up control to the one who gave me breath.  It is not about mindlessly floating on a ‘stream of consciousness’ but mindfully focusing myself on God.  I don’t do yoga, burn candles, repeat words, or empty my mind.  I do quiet my heart and mind so that I can focus on God, on scripture, on what He has done for me, on hearing from God what I have been too busy to hear.
  
Whatever you chose to do, a good “soaking” will do you good.  A saturation of your ground with showers so bountiful they change the landscape of your life and satisfy your soul is needed.  How you get there is between you and God, but I would begin, music or no music, by quietly pondering all that God has already done for you, what He has done for others, what His word says about you and how He sees you.  As you reflect like this you will begin to encourage yourself, to strengthen yourself and find guidance from God as David did in 1 Samuel chapter 30 when his family and the families of his men were taken captive.   


How God leads you is between you and God, but it is my hope that you will come back here and tell me your experience and what God has done for you.


           

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