One of my favourite parts of the Christmas period this year, was a morning that I spent lazing on a friends’ sofa, with a blanket and a cup of tea and my Bible, while the rest of the house still slept. It was that odd time between Christmas and New Year, when we were all floating around eating cheese, and I had spent some time with some pals just outside of Cambridge: and at this moment in time, I had taken the opportunity to take some quiet time with God.
I would say that I don’t know why life was feeling a bit tough around that time, but I do: there’s a direct correlation in my life between the amount of “blanket time” that I get with God, and the amount of anxiety and fear and stress that creeps into my heart. It had been a busier, more difficult season (as well as cold, and dark, and miserable weather-wise), and I could feel myself struggling; but as I sat there on the sofa with my blanket and my journal and Bible, letting God in on it, I knew straight away that that anxious feeling was easing away. I have learnt, over and over again, that when I don’t have that time with God as a permanent feature in my life, my heart has to learn to trust on itself; and I do not have the strength or the capacity for that. That’s why quiet time is important for me – not because it’s a duty that I need to prove that I can do well enough in order to please God; but because as I sit with my God and I lean into His arms, I am doing this life thing with Him.
Those seasons in-between, when I don’t get so much time in with Him, and I do just keep on keeping on, are not terminal, and aren’t something that I need to take on guilt or condemnation about – but it was almost an instant switch as I sat on that sofa, cozied up with God: I knew that I could lean deep into His arms again, with no need to wait and no hesitation. He doesn’t hold back His love until I have passed the test or proved myself to be faithful; He wasn’t waiting until I do my bit before He does His bit. He was sat right there next to Him the whole time, and I could just snuggle up closer to Him. He is faithful – true and trustworthy, reliable and keeping His word: He does not leave nor forsake me, and that has nothing to do with how true I stay to Him. His faithfulness to me is not dependent on my faithfulness to Him.
Faithfulness, from our side of the relationship, is simply to believe, to be convinced, and to have confidence in His goodness. His job is to be true and trustworthy, consistent and true to His word; our job is to put our trust and our belief in Him, to be convinced of who He is and to lean into Him.
What a beautiful picture of a friendship – of curling up on the sofa with my best friend, and being heard by Him. To lean into a friend like this, I have to be convinced that they are good; I have to believe that they are true, and that they want me to be there. But this is what He said to me, as I curled up with Him on that sofa, with my blanket and my journal and Bible and my cup of tea, and I told Him about it all, feeling that prickly feeling ease away from me – He’s right there. All I have to do is lean in.
I know that this is a part of life that I absolutely cannot do without – without my time with God, curled up on a sofa, talking to Him, I just can’t cope with everyday life. Things just don’t make sense without it. And to me, that looks like quiet time, chilled out with a journal – but to you, that time might look totally different. Maybe you feel closest to God when you are running, or cycling, or driving in your car. Maybe it’s when you’re painting, or writing, or doing something with your hands. Maybe you can see Him next to you at the top of a mountain or when you’re exploring. But whatever that time looks like for you, I know for a fact that we just can’t do life without it.
We are designed to completely lean on our best friend, for everything – we were created to live in partnership with Him. It’s not difficult – He’s right there next to you, and He wants to know all about it – just lean in.
Here are three things that I’m learning, in this time with Him:
We can talk to Him about the Big Things, and the Little Things.
He is the all-powerful, all-knowing God: He knit you together, and He knows everything that there is to know about you. He sees everything that goes on, every little situation that you get yourself into, every up and down, every great thing that you do and every moment that you would rather He didn’t see. He knows it all anyway – He doesn’t need you to fill Him in.
But how beautiful is it, that the God who created the entire universe, the God who put the stars in the sky and knew every step you would take before you even opened your eyes, wants you to be His friend. He wants to know about the Big Things – the decisions that you need to make, and the things that scare you, and the moments that break your heart; and He wants you to talk to Him about the Little Things – the things that you don’t think anyone else would want to care about. That’s what best friends are there for.
We can lean into Him, without fear that He will pull away.
A big part of the reason that we filter the things that we share in my own friendships, is a fear of what will happen once I have shared: whether their perception of me will change, if they will look at me differently, what will happen if I don’t measure up to their expectations.
But friend, hear this: you do not need to have that fear when you lean into God. You have a heavenly Father, a best friend, who would move mountains for you; a God who makes your paths straight, and who loves your heart. He will never leave or forsake you. He will never pull away; when you share and you trust and you give it to Him, He’ll only pull you closer. I can’t tell you how sweet being held by Him feels: when we lean in, everything else falls away, and we do not need to fear that our stuff will make Him hold us at a distance.
Leaning In is not dependent on the time that we have, but on our availability.
In the times when I have found it harder to spend this time with Him, I would have put it down to the amount of spare time that I perceived myself as having. I’m just busy, I would say – I’m up early and I’m back late, I’m in a hectic job/placement/year at university, and I just never get to stop for long enough to pick up my Bible. It’s not that I thought that that was OK – it was just the way it was.
But I’ve learnt that leaning in to Him is about the amount of dependency we have on that time, and how available we are in the time we do have. We all have the same 24 hours in our day – so maybe leaning in means waking up and opening my Bible instead of opening Instagram. Maybe it means talking to Him in the car instead of turning up the radio so I don’t have to deal with my own thoughts and insecurities. Maybe it means carving out the time, because I know it’s so important.
I’ve found that when I look up and I know that He is right there next to me, ready for me to lean in, it’s much easier to spend this time with Him – there isn’t a load of work that I need to do first to make myself acceptable or to catch Him up. He’s right there, waiting for me to look at Him, and I just get to lean in.
What would it look like for you to lean in to Him? He’s there – go for it.