Regular times of devotion increasingly marks the life of a believer as we seek the face and character of God, in order to grow in affectionate knowledge of him. This looks different for everyone: prayer, journaling, scripture reading, studying a text, walking through a daily devotional, or meditation on Christ. Some or all of these may be incorporated into our “quiet times," as evangelicals love to call this practice.
I submit to you that worship, in the form of creativity and vulnerability, can bring a new dynamic and intimacy with God that our quiet times may be lacking without it.
I do believe it is good and right to pull away from the crowds of family or co-workers, seeking a quiet space before God. We see Jesus do this rhythmically throughout his ministry. He sends the disciples on ahead of him and withdraws to a mountain for the night, with the express purpose of communing with the Father. Quietness in atmosphere and environment can lend itself to communing with the Father, but let us be careful, lest we begin creating boundaries around our devotional practices that limit them.
Calling something a quiet time doesn’t require silence. Rather, I believe that for theological purposes, quietness is a posture of heart before God (which 1 Peter 3 calls very precious in His sight). It means we disconnect from our texts, emails, and social media, rather than – for example - Instagramming our bibles, journal, and coffee in just the right light. (Guilty.) It means modeling to our family members that communion with God is a priority, and we therefore ask for the space and freedom to do that uninterrupted, even if just for a few minutes. We fill our minds with thoughts of the wonder and glory of Christ, rather than that deadline coming up, that conversation that went badly, or that fear that keeps eating at us.
Once we have positioned our hearts in that place with the help of the Spirit, humility and dependence should define our posture. When we humble ourselves before God, we humble ourselves to the point of being freed up. In humility, there is nothing to prove and no one to impress. We are just free to be who we are before God. In recognizing and confessing our dependence, we exercise trust before God – that he will see and know, and still delight in us. Intimacy with God is organically created within our “quiet times” when we come in quietness, humility, and dependence.
Perhaps this sounds great, but you aren’t sure what it looks like practically. For example, I love to write. When the right sentence makes itself known, I worship. When I am able to bring order to chaos by creating, I am imaging God and it causes my heart to worship. I also love to sing. Definitely in corporate worship with my local church, but I also try to intentionally and regularly make space to spontaneously worship God, the words flowing out of my heart from the Scripture I just read or prayers I have been repeating.
In an intentional posture of humility (freedom) and dependence (trust), we become able to express our love for God to him with the creative delights in which he has wired us. What glory this brings to him! I believe creativity can and should become just as integral to our regular devotional lives as other practices like journaling and meditation.
Genesis 1:1 tells us that in the beginning, God created, and delights in the creative process. He could have spoken the earth into existence completed. Instead, verse two tells us, he created the earth formless and empty, and then the rest of chapters one and two describe how he spoke order into chaos, beauty into void. God created the heavens and the earth ex nihilo, a Latin theological term meaning “out of nothing”. While we don’t create in that same way, because every bit of raw materials (including our gifts and brains) have been given to us as grace, we can still participate in creativity before God, aware that we are imaging him as we do it. What might this look like?
For me, I write in the early morning, I move around, lift my hands, sing my prayers, and sing boldly… vulnerable before God, trusting him with this piece of me he has wired, and allowing myself to be completely in the moment with him.
For others, the creative activity might be different but you use your gifts, you actively participate in the worship of God as he created you in his image, and you get vulnerable. Out of that humble, dependent heart space, you exercise that “trust muscle”; you engage in the things that stir your affections for God and give you joy, which glorifies him.
I believe becoming creative with our quiet times bears much relational fruit between ourselves and God. After all, there is no intimacy without vulnerability. God knows this and modeled it for us in the incarnation of Christ. The eternal Son left the glories of heaven and took on flesh, becoming a helpless baby, a human man, in order to share in intimacy with us. Isaiah 53 and Hebrews 2 testify that by tasting the human experience as fully human, God in Christ intimately knows what it’s like to be us.
God gave himself to us in the man Jesus Christ; his torn flesh, that torn curtain, invites us into intimacy with him.
So how will you accept that invitation? What things might you engage in to actively acknowledge God as your Creator and yourself as made in his image? What creative things stir your affections for Christ? I want to encourage you, believer, to step out and practice these things as worship to God during your times of devotion.
The more vulnerable you get, the more you will trust God, and ultimately, the more you will grow in affectionate knowledge of who he is and what he has done.