Words, Quiet, and Adoration


Pastor Jonathan:


We all made it here and are happy to be able to celebrate moms and women and our lives. Of course, in the scriptures, we read about several mothers throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. I think probably the most famous mother that we read about is Mary, who was Jesus' mother. Mary was there with Jesus obviously when he was born. She was there throughout his life. We find her popping up here and there she was there at his death. Some of the last words that Jesus spoke were to his mother. He commissioned one of his disciples, one of his followers, to care for his mother in his absence. And so mothers and his mother were important to Jesus. And as we say here, a journey, if it's good for Jesus, that's good for us. So we are appreciative of all the mothers who add so much vibrancy and love to this community and leadership.


The other part about Jesus' mom is that she had a song that she compiled. It's a list of scriptures. It's a song that she made for her son Jesus. And I know that even myself who is not a gifted singer. When my children were little, I used to sing to them all the time. I would make up songs. I would sing normal kids songs to them. But I can imagine Jesus singing this song, it's called the Magnificat. I can imagine her singing it to Jesus as he was drifting off to sleep maybe when he woke up in the morning as parents do, as mothers do. She sung no doubt, sung this song to him often. And you can tell in Jesus' life, in his ministry, there are times in which he refers back to the themes of this song, which Mary sung to him. And I wanted to bring that to our attention today to help us to remember the impact, the influence that mothers have over their children and how beautiful of a story it is when mothers add a beautiful vision for their kids to not only grow up and be a successful and mature adults, but to stand up for those who are unable to stand for themselves and to live their lives as an offering.


No doubt Mary was instrumental in forming and shaping Jesus as mothers do. So I don't want to play into any stereotypes today. I'm going to try my best not to. Sometimes we can talk about certain subjects and it feels like maybe we're pinning certain stereotypes on people. Some stereotypes are true of course, but others don't necessarily hold up as well. But one of the stereotypes tends to be for women or for others is that they tend to be good listeners in my family, if I need someone to listen to me, there have, throughout my life, there have been several people who I have gone continually back to because I knew that they were going to listen. I knew that they were going to hear me. And in my circumstances, those have always been women, whether it be my grandmother or my mom or now Kelly, my wife.


And I was thinking about that this week about how the best listeners in my life are some of the women in my life. And there are men out there who are good listeners as well. And so if you have that ability to be a good listener, then what we have been talking about in the last several weeks is we've been talking about waiting and listening and being still for God. Then if you are a good listener, then you already kind of have a leg up on everyone else. The rest of us. We have to learn to listen. We have to learn to sit still and to stop talking. If you're a good listener, that at some point you have to quit talking and you have to turn your ears on. And that is something that we could benefit from as being better listeners. So as we have been walking step by step with Jesus, talking about what does it mean to live in an apprenticeship with Jesus, to learn a life of love, the purposes that we have been leading into or hoping that our formed and shape in us are to be with Jesus, right?


That's the whole goal of the Christian faith, is to be with Jesus, to be formed like Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit in us to be formed and molded into the image of Jesus and to do what Jesus did, to live according to the ways that Jesus told us and to do what Jesus did. The hangup, I think though for many of us is that we live in a culture that values identity and individualism as sort of our highest ideals for followers of Jesus. Our identity isn't in the labels that we embrace, nor those ascribed to us. Rather our identity is found in Jesus. Here is what Paul says about it. When he writes in Galatians chapter three, he says, so in Christ, you are all children of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized and to Christ, have clothed yourselves with Christ.


There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female for all, for you all are one in Christ Jesus. All right? So obviously being a follower of Jesus, you still have some of these characteristics, right? You don't morph into somebody who, Paul's not saying that you don't have these characteristics. He's saying that these characteristics, these identities that you have lived into fall under the umbrella of Jesus once you have become a follower of Jesus. And what Paul is illustrating to us here is that the temptation for all of us is to be more concerned about the labels that our cultural context offers us than our identity in Jesus. I heard it said this week that we live from a constellation of our identities as an interesting statement, isn't it? We live in a constellation of our identity. So with that in mind, I found the only constellation I know.


I think that's one of the dippers. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But I made a constellation of some of the markers of my life. I am a husband, a dad, a wannabe barista. For those of you who aren't hip enough to know what a barista is, that's somebody who makes coffee, who serves coffee. I would love to be better at that. A pastor at Odom and Hanor, which are my last name, and then my mom's maiden name, all of these things have implications for who I am as Jonathan. They all contribute to that. But how we rank these and what about these we understand as behaviors or as qualities of our lives, of our bodies, of our past, of our families, or what of these is actually worth being an identity. They all add to who we are and we have to make sure that we order these correctly in our lives and that all of these filter under the lordship of Jesus.


And the argument that I would make for us this morning is that contemplative prayer, listening to the Holy Spirit, finding times of silence and solitude and surrender is the way that these things are best ordered in our lives. If we blow through our day and don't pause to be still and listen, we don't pause to reset, then we are at the whim of whatever is occupying our lives at the moment. And whatever that thing says about us and how it shapes orders, our identities and our behaviors, the early church fathers wrote a lot about prayer and about contemplation and about being quiet and being still. And they had the forethought to write about that. Sometimes people think that the opposite of being silent and being still is action, right? You can either be silent and still or you can act do things. But what they pointed out is that the opposite of stillness and silence isn't action but reaction.


And the difference is this, that if you don't intentionally center yourself on the presence of Jesus, then you are reacting to whatever is occupying your attention at that moment. So when we realize this, we see how crucial contemplative prayer becomes in our lives as we seek to be with Jesus and formed by Jesus and to do what Jesus did, we must understand the significance of silence. I'm going to read another passage of scripture to you, and it comes from Second Corinthians chapter three beginning in verse 12. And I want to invite us if you are able to stand for the reading of this scripture.


Here is what Paul writes to us. Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away, but their minds were made dull for to this day, the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed because only in Christ can it be taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts, but whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the spirit, the Lord is the spirit and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.


You may have a seat. This is an interesting passage of scripture number one, because it begins back to the story of Moses in the Old Testament. Moses is the one who God gave the law of Israel. So the way in which they needed to follow God, God gave that law to Moses. And the way that God gave that law to Moses was he traveled up to the top of a mountain and he was there for 40 days and 40 nights in solitude by himself. And God gave him these laws. God gave him the order for how the Israelites were instructed to live and how glorious of a moment that was when Moses came back down to tell the people, the scriptures tell us that his face radiated with the glory of God. So much so that people were nervous, they were made nervous by how much his face was shining.


And so he put a veil over his face, and Paul is referencing back to that and the old covenant and suggesting to us that as great as that moment was, it still led to death because that law was paving the way not for people to be slaves to the law, but to find their identity in Jesus. And so when Jesus ushered in the new covenant, that is when people received life and life in Christ. And so what we need to take away from what Paul is saying here and where he ends up talking about it is the contemplating on this glory. We need to be mindful of this glory, to be aware of this glory, and it is this glory that transforms our lives. Our stereotypes would suggest that compartmentalizing these identities is easier for a man or a dad than it is for a woman or for a mom, having myself lived closely to my wife, who is a woman and a mom.


And then before that, living with my mom and time living with my grandma, I have witnessed the struggle that the women in my life have had trying to balance these identities out. Our society seems to simultaneously devalue motherhood and set the bar for motherhood insanely high. And so as I was thinking about this this week, I made this constellation for Kelly. And so she is a daughter, a follower of Jesus. Her job is an advanced funeral planner. She's a teacher. She makes the best chocolate chip cookies. And maybe one day you will be fortunate enough to experience those cookies. But what seems to be the pressure or the feeling is this, that she over all of these things is mom. And what I have noticed as I have watched and been present with Kelly through this struggle is how much she who is an extroverted person needs times of quiet and stillness as much as I do, who is an introverted person.


And what we tend to think about the difference between an extroverted and an introverted person is that introverted people like to be alone and extroverted. People like to be surrounded with each other, but the reality is, is that all of us need these moments of stillness and silence. So I thought as we were talking about this, that instead of me telling you how Kelly does this as a mom, that I would instead allow her to come up and share with us about her experience as a mom and trying to find times and moments of silence and solitude. So she's going to come and share with us, and we're going to get everything set up here. They tell you in preaching class that any time you can have someone who is better looking than you on the stage, that it always helps out. So




Oh my word. Oh


Pastor Jonathan:


My goodness. All right, so this week, I know you've been reading the book and we've had several conversations about some of the themes. And the book, by the way, I think I forgot to mention we're in chapter nine of the book Being with God Today is, and it's probably my favorite chapter actually in the whole book, but we were talking this week about the connection of this chapter, talking about the need for silence and talking about how motherhood begins with silence. You have the baby in your womb, and obviously you can't talk to the baby in your womb, or you can talk to the baby, but the baby can't talk back. And then when the baby is born, it doesn't have words, so it can't speak to you. And I was reminded of this quote from the book. It says this considered this, that maybe our conversations with God have only just begun when we're out of words to say maybe our conversations with God have just begun when we're out of words to say. And so as we were talking about that, it's kind of the reverse of that. Your relationship with your child begins without words. And so I wanted to invite you to just share a little bit about that Sure. Conversation we had.




Okay, sure. Well, first of all, thanks for having me today. And I just want to start really, when we're talking about motherhood, I just want to acknowledge something that I think is really important. I just want to say that motherhood is not just simply women who bear children. There so many ways that a woman can be a mother. And when we're speaking specifically about mothers who are women who give birth to children, I think also it's really important to acknowledge that some women choose that path and some do not. And some women pursue a desire to birth children and have success. And unfortunately, some pursue that desire and do not have that success. And so in our life, we actually can empathize with the desire to have a baby and the pain of that loss. We experience that quite a bit in our life. And so I just want to say that if there's anyone in this space who has been through that, or maybe you're currently going through that, I just want you to know that we love you, we wrap our arms around you.


You are not alone and that you are loved. And so with that said, when I was reading through the chapter, which by the way, side note, guys, if you haven't picked up the book and started reading yet, it's not too late. This was the first chapter I read all the way through. So truth, time. But as I read through chapter nine, the author AJ Cheryl was speaking about how the relationship with your partner begins with a lot of dynamic conversation so that you choose a partner, you begin into that relationship, and you're just all this talking that happens to get to know each other. And then the relationship moves into a deeper, he would say, the deepest level of intimacy after we run out of words to stay. Well, Jonathan had asked me to read this chapter through the lens of motherhood. And so it struck me that as I was reading, that it's opposite for moms, that we really, those of us who have had the opportunity to bear children, that we know that when those babies start growing inside of us, there are no words, but there is extreme intimacy that happens. And then once the child is in the world, again, there are no words that are exchanged. There's little cute little noises and some not so cute noises. But those words are not exchanged to grow the bond. Instead, the beauty, the intimacy that is all held through touch, through quiet, through stillness and time spent together. And I just think it's a beautiful thing to point out that there is a long period of silence that builds that intimacy that then later grows into words that are exchanged.


Pastor Jonathan:


And once they learn those words, they don't stop speaking them. Woo. Right? Woo, pay back at any point in time. So as a mom, and I think as a parent in general, we know that once you have had children, then they sort of become a large part of your reason for existence. They take a person who has exists primarily for themselves and then add onto the kids, and then that's what they become. But we know also that you are much more than a mother, that a father is much more than a father. We have all of these constellations of other identities and behaviors and interests that tend to take a backseat to being a parent or specifically being a mom. So that struggle of trying to create this space where you're still Kelly, but you're also mom, or you're still Jonathan and also dad or whatever the case might be. So what have you found helpful to keep your kids from becoming your whole identity? Yeah.




Ooh, heavy question. I think first of all, I wanted to point out this quote from the book. It says, our relationship with other humans often provide insight into our relationship with the divine. Our relationship with other humans often provide insight into our relationship with the divine. And I think that as I read that, that's maybe not a new concept. Our horizontal relationships are also effective of our vertical relationship, which we're going to talk about more in a minute. But understanding, I think all of a sudden I was really struck with understanding that I am so human, fully human, yet I also have this position where I'm kind of this elevated character where I'm caregiver, nowhere wise, one over these three little lives that were gifted to me and those kids, their mind to keep their, I nurture them, I discipline them. And all of a sudden, I think I had a greater understanding really of the Trinity that as much as my brain can wrap around that concept, my human brain, but how the Trinity can actually hold separate identities, yet still be one in the same.


It was very much like my soul self, and then my role as mother, Jesus is fully human. He was fully human, but he is still, but God who's all knowing and all loving. Now, obviously I am not God, but recognizing that simultaneous dichotomy that happens within myself was really eye-opening and interesting when trying to relate that I'm also really struck by how having kids has heightened my need to depend on following Jesus. For me, becoming a mom was really brought me to a higher calling in that pursuit following the of Jesus, all of a sudden I had one and then two, and then three little sets of eyes who were watching me, and they're trying to watch my example, and they listen to my words and they're observing my behaviors, and then they're repeating some of it. So that's a big deal. And so I just had to realize that I'm small and I have a lot of flaws.


I am human. And so that means that I really need to rely on God for my words to order, my steps to fill me with love and energy and strength and peace and wisdom. And what's also interesting is that as my children have grown, so has the noise, right? We mentioned that before. And so as I'm needing more wisdom, energy, love, strength, as I'm needing more guidance to my words and order to my step simultaneously, my household is louder. So it's really hard to hear anyone much less the divine right with all that noise going on. So that's kind of where that calling to stillness, silence, and surrender are really key in ordering our life.


Pastor Jonathan:


So the last couple of weeks in chapters 6, 7, 8, and nine, the author AJ Charro has pointed out that there are these sort of underlying currents in our world that dictate our action. They all begin with a C comparison, control and consumption. And as I was thinking about motherhood in particular for this week, I thought those three things are so prominent, are such prominent temptations to focus on or to capture all of our attention, control, making sure everything is the way that it needs to be for your kids, and that they're safe and they're not eating uncut grapes or whatever. The thing is, there's consumption. I need to keep my kids busy. I need to keep them doing something all the time. I need to have things for them. And then of course, comparison, looking at all of the ways in which other mothers are doing it or whatever that tends to be. And so the remedies for control, consumption comparison, which obviously doesn't just affect mothers, affects all of us, are stillness, silence, and surrender. And as we were talking that those things require quiet. They require pause. They require, in many ways being alone. So my question then is how do you manage all the responsibilities of motherhood and still make space for stillness, silence, and surrender?




Yeah. Well, I think the first part of managing all that responsibility begins with the phrase that we say every Sunday. This is always very poignant to me personally. But that phrase of rele realizing perfection is a myth that I'm like, okay, alright, you got me just J. But just the relief of that. Really, every week when we say that over and over, it's like, Ugh, I can breathe because it's a relief. That one phrase takes my own expectations for myself and releases me of that need for perfection, that strive for that. And then when it comes to silence or stillness, I often, in the mornings, sometimes I'll get a quick moment before the kids start their day. If I have enough energy to get up in the morning, let's be real about that.


Or when we are finally all up and I have a few moments alone in the bathroom, can I get an amen from the mom's in the house and I'm brushing my teeth and I have a few quiet minutes, or at night before bed, I will grab these moments and spend time just in those small minutes in prayer or just reviewing some of the truths that I've read in the Bible or heard here on Sunday. And oftentimes I will pause after that and ask myself, but is that really enough? Is that really enough time to spend with the Lord? And I, again, seeking perfection and having this guilt over, it's not enough time. I need more time with the Lord. And then AJ Sherrill said this week in the chapter, he said, God is eternally available. Let that sink in. God is eternally available. God is always available and desirous to commune with his creation.


That is absolutely beautiful, not requiring an amount of time from me, not from any of us. He is always available when we pause and we are ready to spend that time with him. He's there, he's ready. So I need that silence and stillness to know him and how to better follow the way of Jesus so that in turn, I am able to be the best version of myself for the sake of others. And I just have to lean in and surrender to that idea that the time we have is enough. It's interesting. When we were going through this, I was reminded of a podcast that I listened to a long time ago, and on this podcast, the researcher was actually featuring a scientist or an occupational therapist, I believe, and they were talking about the science behind sensory overload. Okay, you guys are going to relate to me when I start to, I want to hear some amens, but I did a little research about sensory overload before we set down today.


And it's really interesting to note that noise is triggering because your auditory system is meant to be triggered by that noise for the purpose of inducing reaction. So it's actually a protection that our body has in place. So for example, if I'm out for a walk and a car comes up behind me, I hear that noise, I turn and look. So I make sure I'm not in danger. I'm not in the way of that car. Of course, our role as a mom is to protect the ones that we are caring for, which means that our nervous system is primed for that protection of self as well as those that we are caring for. So now we have double. Yeah. Okay, we're getting some head nods. I love it. And so it's actually really common for moms to experience this sensory overload because all the noises we hear all day, think about it.


No matter what you do, if you stay home or you're able, you're working toys, crying calls for help, television timers, bells alerting us of different things on and on and on. All of those elicit a response from our nervous system subconsciously. Okay? So what's fascinating to me was that what I found in this research, the suggestion for sensory overload was a reduction of noise, silence. It was yoga or meditation, stillness. It was a forgiveness of self when sensory overload causes negative rea reactions like yelling. Yeah, I'm getting some more head nods, impatience, I'm so glad I'm not the only one. And we can call that surrender. So I'm really fascinated that here was, were scientists doing all this scientific research, and what they found is our biblical truths, those two things go hand in hand here. New waves of scientific research are actually asking us to remember and practice these ancient truths.


Pastor Jonathan:


So good to remember. We actually instituted a new rule in our house that when the bathroom door is closed, unless it's an absolute emergency, like there's blood, or we've got to call the fire department, then you are not allowed to knock on the door or speak to the person on the other side of the door, right? So




We disappear in there for longer than it takes to brush our teeth.


Pastor Jonathan:


So last but not least, we talked about the concept of vertical and horizontal, that our relationship with God obviously is vertical, but also it's horizontal. It plays out in our relationships. So in addition to the silence and surrender and stillness, what are the other things that you have found helpful to pursue wholeness and fullness in Christ?




So I think it's really important to pause here and talk about how we were not created to move through life alone. That we see from the beginning in Genesis how God did not think that it was good for a human to walk the earth alone. And so in this journey, when we find ourselves in pursuit of the way of Jesus, as well as understanding how silence, stillness, surrender, order our lives, I am really thankful for the communities that the Lord has blessed me with. Of course, this one is such a blessing. What a beautiful place that we have here for hope and wholeness, friendship and guidance, but also in addition to this space, I actually have a class that I'm a part of that each week. It's kind of like group therapy that I participate in. And this group allows me the opportunity to learn new tools to emotionally resolve all the anxiety that I have developed over time.


And I'm also able to learn tools about how to ground myself in practices like stillness. I think sometimes we have to learn how to do that. It's not necessarily something that comes naturally to us. And so I'm really thankful for this group. And also it gives me space to talk and work through things that are hard to talk about. And I think it's really important to acknowledge that sometimes we need therapy and the tools that we're able to get from that, but I'm really thankful that we're also living in a time when therapy is accessible and common. But I'm just overall thankful that I know I don't have to walk alone, that there are communities and groups of people who will help me in my pursuit to follow the way of Jesus.


Pastor Jonathan:


Yeah. Thank you for sharing all of that with us. Yeah, thanks


Pastor Jonathan:


Having me. A lot more about being mom than I do, so that's true. Thank you very, that's very true. Very, very much.




You're a wise one.


Pastor Jonathan:


Well, at the practice I wanted to share with you real quick. For this week we've, we've been combining a practice each week with our reading, and it's found on page 1 0 7, and it's a practice of just being silent. So if you've never spent time in silence, it's just picking a time, one minute, two minutes, five minutes, 20 minutes, and just maybe setting a timer even if that's helpful, and just spending a time being silence and then record your thoughts. Maybe God gives you some great revelation. Maybe you've just, all that you can remember is the silence, but there's instructions more for that on page 1 0 7, if you have the book, and we want to encourage you to do that, even if it's just driving down the road and turning off the music or the podcast or the radio or whatever, and just pausing to spend some moments in silence there. But just take a moment and allow yourself to be still in silence and surrender. With that in mind, we are going to conclude our gathering today, as we always do at the table of Jesus. This table is a place where we recognize and remember the grace that has been bestowed upon us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.