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Drawing Near to the Lord

By Katy Vanderkwaak

Sometimes we need silence in our lives.

I have realized this year that I like noise. I have music on all the time. I like being able to hear people at work around me. I like sitting with people at coffee shops so that I can occasionally talk and then get back to work. Maybe I am more extroverted than I like to admit, but I rarely make time for stillness and silence in my life. It feels uncomfortable and abnormal.

Well, the Capital Fellows Program has a way of practically addressing the busyness of my heart and mind. Each semester, we set aside a Saturday morning to be silent and listen to the Lord in a silent retreat.

The silent retreat is something special. It is not an overwhelming amount of time, only three hours on a Saturday, but it is time that is so needed in order to take a step back from the noise of the world.

Each time we have had a silent retreat, I go into it thinking of all the class reading I can catch up on, writing I can do, and plans I can make so that I can be a productive and do my own things. And each time the Lord speaks very gently to my heart and reminds me to slow down, to listen, and to just be with Him in silence.

These silent retreats have been the sweetest mornings for me to get to know the Lord in a new way. I see the beauty of quieting my environment and being without all the sounds that fill my days. It is time to truly rest in His word. I have spent these retreats reading scripture and dwelling on the words of a Psalm, looking at multiple characters in the story of Jesus and how I can relate to so many of them, and then journaling and praying. I sit with the Lord in these rare hours of silence and everything about it is simply joyful and life-giving.

Draw near to the Lord and he will draw near to you. -- James 4:8

As I read that verse in James, I thought about how I often fail to draw near to the Lord because I pretend I am too busy and refuse to be in silence with the Lord. So here I am, admitting that silence and stillness is necessary. If I truly believe that God is exactly who he says he is, he deserves all of my time and my whole life. I pray that I have the heart to listen to His word, sit at His feet in prayer, and be in awe of the One who loves me dearly even when I wander.

It is challenging to sit in silence, but it’s when we are quiet that the Lord can truly speak to into our lives. Our world is so full of noise that it is hard to desire silence at all, but after these silent retreats, I am encouraged by how refreshing it is to be silent. The Father speaks to my restless heart and reminds me of His goodness, patience, grace, and love.

So I want to make more time to be in the word, be still, and remove myself from all the noise that can seem so important. Jesus has softened my heart tremendously in the moments when I am simply with Him. I am thankful for silent retreats and for all the ways they remind me that the Lord is the greatest teacher, mentor, friend, and Father.

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. -- Psalms 62:1-2

Pictures from the Week

Capital Fellows Leadership and Vocational Development Program
A wonderful Spanish themed dinner by Jack and Emily!

Capital Fellows Leadership and Vocational Development Program
Caroline's family treated us to a wonderful dinner in the city

Capital Fellows Leadership and Vocational Development Program
Fellows lunch together

Capital Fellows Leadership and Vocational Development Program
We live in a beautiful place (photo from Julia's run on the C&O canal towpath)

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