Updated: Apr 23, 2020
Provided by: InterVarsity’s Central Rockies Team
Psalm 23 New International Version (NIV)
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
What is Jesus speaking to you in the Scripture?
What does it look like for you to rest in Him in the midst of this crisis?
The Rivers of Life
Take some time with Jesus to process.
The River of Inspiration:
Where/when have I been inspired by someone or something? Was it something I observed? Something that was said to me? The presence of another person? Something I read? What was inspired in me? What does it mean for me? The feelings that accompany this are…
The River of Surprise:
Where/when have I been surprised by someone or something? What was the source of the surprise? Was it a welcome surprise or an unsettling one? The feelings that accompany this experience are…
The River of Challenge:
Where/when have I been stretched or challenged to see things differently? Did the challenge come from another person? Something I read? A situation I encountered? In the process of prayer? What meaning do I ascribe to this challenge. The feelings that accompany it are…
The River of Care:
When/how have I been touched deeply by someone or something? How was I moved by this experience? I would describe the feelings created by this experience as…
Take some time to read this scripture. Feel free to watch the Bible Project Mark video (YouTube) so you know what’s been going on in Mark, as well as, read right before this section.
Imagine yourself in this story. Life might feel like a storm right now. Picture the scene, feel the waves, understand the fishermen disciples clear fear of this storm and how serious it is because seasoned fishermen are afraid of a storm on the sea they’ve always fished on.
Mark 4:35-41 New International Version (NIV)
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
How does your life feel like a storm right now?
Where is Jesus in the midst of this storm?
What does it look like in your life to not be afraid right now but to choose faith in Jesus?
Retreat of silence with Jesus
*watch the Bible Project video of 1 Kings to understand the whole arc of the covenant section of scripture that you’re about to read. It will help with questions, too.*
It is difficult to find silence in an age of technology and information, especially in the midst of this situation. Silence challenges our cultural addiction to amusement, words, music, advertising, noise, alarms and voices. Silence asks for patience and waiting. And both silence and waiting make us uncomfortable. They seem so unproductive. We can’t tell if we are doing anything in them. So when we come upon silence, we fill it. We cram it with something else we can learn, or do, or achieve.
We need to realize that the world can go on without us for an hour or a day or even longer, something that this pandemic is making us do in as a whole population. The discipline of silence invites us to leave behind the competing demands and fears of our world for time alone with Jesus. Silence offers a way of paying attention to the Spirit of God and what he bring to the surface of our souls.
In quietness, we often notice things we would rather not notice or feel. Pockets of sadness or anger or loneliness or impatience begin to surface. Our own outer agenda looms larger than our desire to be with God in silence. And as the silence settles in and nothing seems to be happening we often struggle with the feeling that we are wasting time. Everything we notice in this struggle can become an invitation to prayer. Like a can opener the silence opens up the contents of our heart, allowing us deeper access to God than we experience at other times. As we remain in the silence, the inner noise and chaos will begin to settle. Our capacity to open up wider and wider to God grows. The holy One has access to places we don’t even know exist in the midst of the hubbub.
Be alone with God in the silence. Don’t hurry. Spend the next few hours with God in silence. Get away from the distractions that keep you preoccupied and distracted. No books (other than the Bible—and this paper), no music. Just listen.
There is nothing you need to do here. This is not a time to come up with strategies for fixing your life or ministry. Silence is a time to rest in God. Lean into God, trust that being with God in silence will loosen your rootedness in the world and plant you by streams of living water. It can form your leadership, even if it doesn’t solve your leadership. The anonymous author of The Way of the Pilgrim wrote, “I need peace and silence to give free play to this quickening flame of prayer.” Let your silence lead you to prayer.
Use the following prompts to guide your time as it is helpful:
Often we arrive physically before we arrive emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Spend some unhurried time becoming more fully present to Jesus. Close your eyes, take slow, deep breaths, and try to absorb the quiet stillness of the place you are in. If you need to focus on something, pray Psalm 103 and consider some of His benefits.
Where are you now? What is going on in your body right now? Are you anxious, tired, restless, or sleepy? Give your body to Jesus for the day. You are in Christ and Christ is in you.
Where have you come from? What has happened to you in the last few days or weeks? How is that affecting you: What family, relationship, school, or any other concerns press on your mind? Hand them to Jesus for safekeeping. They too are in his hands.
What is ahead of you? What responsibilities and decisions are you facing in the next few weeks and months? What challenges loom? What hopes do you have? What fears assail you? Allow these things to surface, try to name them, and let them become prayers as you draw near to Jesus.
A Gentle, Quiet Whisper
Read the following passage a few times slowly. Sit for some time and listen for the gentle, quiet Whisper to call for you. As you sit and listen, put yourself in the story...
1 Kings 19:1-18 (MSG)
Ahab reported to Jezebel everything that Elijah had done, including the massacre of the prophets. Jezebel immediately sent a messenger to Elijah with her threat: “The gods will get you for this and I’ll get even with you! By this time tomorrow you’ll be as dead as any one of those prophets.” When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all— to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush. Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and, to his surprise, right by his head were a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water. He ate the meal and went back to sleep. The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.” He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep. Then the word of God came to him: “So Elijah, what are you doing here?” “I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah. “The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.” Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.” A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there.
What is being reported about you? In what ways are you exhausted? Is your exhaustion more than physical?
Imagine the voice of Jesus calling to you with the question, “What are you doing here?”
Use the examen questions to respond:
• What is life-giving to you? What is life-thwarting? • Where do you find love, joy and peace in your life? Where does it seem absent? • Where are you sad? Where are you glad? • What question(s) are you holding for God in this season?
Ask God what he wants for you to receive during this time. Listen. Respond to any nudging you receive from the Holy Spirit.
Closing Prayer of Worship
Elijah seems to recognize the gentle, quiet whisper as the presence of God. In response, “he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there.” Consider the nature and character of God in your midst... Let that draw you into a worshipful response.
Use the Scriptural names and metaphors of God (Shepherd, Comforter, Healer, Father, etc.) to acknowledge God’s role in your life lately.
Confess the truth about yourself and your relationship with God. Be received and receive God anew.
There is no right way to spend time with God. Receive the day that has been given. Don’t fret if you feel that nothing happened. Trust that a moment will come when the seeds planted today will sprout. Bonding with God will bring forth fruit in due season.
How do we as followers of Jesus care and love each other well in the midst of this situation?
Read this scripture below, as well as, watch the Bible Project Luke video online, so you understand what’s happening in Luke and have the right cultural context.
Luke 10:25-37 New International Version (NIV)
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Are there any people you need to be a good neighbor to right now?
How can we love others in the midst of this crisis? (with your resources, time, and energy)
How can you work through your own fear to make sure no one is left alone during this hard time?
Here are some on your own suggestions to spend time with Jesus, learn, have fun, love others, and stay calm in the midst of everything.
1) Visit the BibleProject website. They’ve got videos about so many great things to learn, podcasts, and so much more!
2) Chat with a friend on the phone or Facetime about what you’ve been learning.
3) Look on the Bible App for great devotionals to go through too.
4) Check in on your friends, make sure they’re doing okay too!
5) See if any older neighbors need help getting groceries, etc. It’s less safe for them to be going out into public. Let’s be good neighbors.
6) Just help people!
7) Isolate physically from large crowds but make sure you and others don’t feel alone in this situation. Be wise about human interaction but don’t avoid it entirely. We’re all in this together! We can’t survive this hard time without Jesus and our community!