During a conversation with a friend, I was challenged to consider spending a week alone with God to “really listen to His voice”. However, there was one catch … without any electronic devices. Spending a week without my iPhone? What was going to happen to all my e-mails, WhatsApp’s and messages? And above all, how was I going to communicate in the event of an emergency? My left knee kept playing up at times and if this happened on the farm, I would need assistance and would not be able to call anyone. Some family members and friends even said that at my age I was being highly irresponsible!
I had a thousand reasons for not leaving my phone behind, but deep down I knew I just had to do it. I wasn’t going to hear God’s voice whilst being distracted by my phone, mails and messages. I needed this time of digital detox as well, while seeking God’s face.
D-day finally arrived, I switched off my phone, left it in our bedroom and drove to the farm. I could not have imagined how wonderful the week on the farm would be.
From the first moment I arrived and started being quiet, seeking God with all my heart (Jeremiah 29:13) and waiting expectantly in prayer, the Holy Spirit started speaking to me in a gentle whisper. Allow me to share a short summary of my ‘seven days alone with God’.
Day 1 – The first ‘whisper’ I heard was, “Read Obadiah.”
Message – Be generous and don’t withhold your help from someone in the time of their need. Ouch.
Day 2 – The second ‘whisper’ was “Read Zephaniah.”
Message – Stop your idol worship!
But Lord, I don’t have any idols? And then and there the Holy Spirit convicted me that my iPhone had become my ‘modern-day idol’. Our battle normally lies in the secret recesses (hearts) of our being. I started asking questions. What is the first thing I look at in the morning when I open my eyes, and the last thing at night? No, not God’s Word, but my phone! Does that mean I need to throw away my phone? Maybe not, but I seriously needed to reconsider the time and attention I afforded to Anita and my family, instead of my phone.
Day 3 – Early morning, and I went and sat at the highest point on our farm, waiting for sunrise, and armed with my Bible, coffee and rusks. How true that when we are alone with God, He begins to teach us. God’s gentle whisper led me to read Ps 143:8-10, Ps 130:5 and Ps 131:1-3.
Message – A new season of faith, trust and obedience is lying ahead of me.
I went to town for breakfast and later that day I clearly heard the Holy Spirit say, “Read Mark.” Mark, Lord? “Yes, Mark.”
Day 4 – I read the gospel of Mark and Mark 7:15; 8:18 and 9:29 stood out. I realised that it’s our thought life that pollutes…
Message – There is immense power in stillness; and prayer is the key to faith in my life.
Day 5 – God reconfirmed Zechariah 4:6 (“Not through might nor through power, but by My Spirit…”). While sitting at the dam I thought about the verse that reads, “in quietness and trust lie your strength”. As I opened my Bible randomly, my eyes immediately fell on Isaiah 30:15, “For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, says: Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved; in quietness and confidence is your strength.”
During my quiet time this morning I wrote this verse down and stuck it on my desk as a reminder in the days to come where my strength will be. As I opened my daily devotional (Streams in the Desert, 24 November) I read, “quietness and trust – Isaiah 30:15”. What an amazing God we serve who not only prepares us, but also reminds us of His Word. When all is said and done, our strength will lie in quietness and trust.
Message – You must be led by the Spirit of God and not by a spirit of fear.
Day 6 – I read Acts 1:15-26 and realised that whatever I do, I must NOT run ahead of God! I need to pray and then wait patiently for Him to show me the way and/or open the door. (Unfortunately patience is a virtue I still need to attain.)
Message – Wait patiently on God. (Confirmed in my daily devotional God Calling, 30 October. One of the most difficult lessons is probably that of waiting.)
Day 7 – Psalm 37:5: “Commit your way to the Lord …” I need to turn people’s eyes to Jesus. I recalled the account of the bronze snake Moses made and held up. All who suffered from snake bites only needed to look up and and they were healed.
Message – All I need to do is look up to Jesus.
A phenomenal and life-changing seven days alone with God. And my phone? By God’s grace it took only an afternoon to answer and clear 184 e-mails and 103 WhatsApp messages. My “idol” now spends more time on my hip than in my hand. I also gave Anita permission to help me and just say “idol!” whenever I decide to check my phone when spending time together.
I want to challenge every reader to put time aside ‘alone with God’ – even one day will be life-changing.