I recently began listening to Dutch Sheets each morning. Give Him 15: Daily Prayer with Dutch. And this message really spoke to me.
Spending time with the Lord helps us develop a love for His presence. One definition of linger is to leave slowly and hesitantly. If you don’t find yourself leaving God’s presence slowly and hesitantly, there’s a short somewhere in the connection. Regular visitors to the throne of grace become lingerers, pure and simple.
There was a father who became caught up in the undertow of too many commitments. Before long, he was snapping at his wife and their children, irritated by the all-too-common interruptions throughout the day. Things around the house began to reflect this father’s hurry-up style of living. One evening, after supper, the father’s young daughter asked if she could tell him something that had happened at school that day. And then, hurriedly, she added, ‘I will tell you really fast!’ The father, hearing the frustration in his daughter’s voice, suddenly felt convicted and answered her, saying, “Honey, you can tell me, and you don’t need to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.” He was shocked at her answer. “Then listen slowly.”
We will never find ourselves having to say to our Heavenly Father, ‘listen slowly.’ He always has plenty of time for us, and He loves it when we linger in His presence. In fact, His biggest problem is our limited time with Him, not our lingering. We are often in such a hurry we actually want him to listen really fast. But He isn’t our spiritual Santa Claus, wanting us to spend two minutes in His lap giving Him our spiritual wish list, and then be on our way.
We can learn a lot from David, the shepherd and psalmist, who later became King over Israel. David was a lingerer. He loved being in God’s presence. He left God’s presence slowly, hesitantly. David once said, ‘One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, and to seek Him in His temple. Psalm 27:4. Notice the words dwell, gaze and seek. Those are lingering terms.
First, we learn to linger and then we love to linger.
David shared His most intimate thoughts with God. Whether he was joyful, discouraged, lonely or on top of the world, David talked to the Lord about it. He knew God wanted to be involved in his world. And he wanted to be involved in God’s. Many people love God’s presence. But there is an incredible difference in pursuing God’s presence versus pursuing God’s heart. It is possible to be in someone’s presence but never make it into their heart. There are many people we may have relationship with but very few we allow into our hearts. Our hearts are reserved for those we have spent enough time with that we have come to trust their motives and intentions. Until we are confident our hearts have value to them, we are careful with who we entrust them to.
Hearts are breakable. We want them handled with care. God is no different. His heart can be broken. His emotions can be wounded. And His hopes can be dashed. He allows many into His presence but is much more selective with His heart. Pursue His heart. It is in His heart that we discover our purpose and destiny. His presence is free. But His heart will cost you time and effort. But oh, how worth the effort He is.
As a nation we have saddened our Maker, however His devotion and faithfulness are not like ours. He patiently waits for us to come back into His presence and look for His heart. He is always ready to embrace us. Sadly, you may not encounter much competition, on this quest for His heart. Many love His presence, but few are after His heart. Don’t settle for less than His heart. Be a lingerer. Talk to Him slowly. Listen to Him slowly. And leave Him slowly.
Abba Father, you are worthy of our time and the affections of our hearts. Forgive us for our impatience when we approach your throne. We want to be one of those who lingers in Your presence, leaving slowly, hesitantly, gazing upon Your beauty and seeking Your Word. May we learn to linger more and more. We pray for our great nation. Send Your mercy to America as you promised. May we be an influence in our communities and stand steadfast for You and all that You represent: life, love, truth and compassion. May we bring Your presence and Your heart with us as we enter our schools, businesses and workplaces. Fill us with your peace. We choose to be those who will linger in Your presence and seek after Your heart.
The Pleasure of His Company by Dutch Sheets