The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

January 18, 2013

Coffee-Shop Quiet Days

Hope Muller

At the age of nine I started running competitively. So I was thrilled when I heard that the Bible talked about my sport. As a teenager I started to interpret God’s words about running in my own way. Why not run everywhere

I decided to run to class and to lunch, and would even literally run to do my errands. When I picked up the pace, I could complete more and more tasks. Which made me think I could eventually change the world.

Changing My Rhythm

When I look back at the span of my life, I realize that, instead of changing the world, that season of running actually mimics a troubling tendency in me. My energetic ambition leads me to search for worth in accomplishing assignments, creating change, and simply succeeding. In the past, my calendar was full every waking hour and I had three to four differently themed to-do lists. You can probably guess how this affected my approach to the Creator of the Universe. 

Over the years, I have found that practicing a quiet day a few times each month is an incredible antidote for my desire to please God with my actions. The day is dedicated to sitting with, listening to, and encountering God.

As an extrovert living in a city, my quiet days with God have a different flavor than the silence-and-solitude retreat days that we usually hear about in the church. Energized by the urban hustle and bustle, I usually spend four to six hours sitting in a lively off-campus coffee shop with my Bible, a journal, and a prompt to guide my time. Sitting at tables nearby there are often young moms reading storybooks with their toddlers, retirees playing chess and talking defensively about existential ideas, or middle-aged artists dreaming with their friend about their latest project.

This might seem to you like a noisy day. But for me, these times have become an intentional space for God to sort through the blaring inner noise that otherwise grows exponentially in my mind and heart.

Experiencing God's Pleasure . . . in Me

One of my most catalytic quiet days happened in a crowded coffee shop over a cup of hot chocolate. I sat for hours in Scripture, listening, journaling, and reflecting. After I concluded my time, I walked outside onto the deck and looked up at the starry sky. As a response to my reflection that day, Matthew 3:17 came to mind: “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” Then I sensed God’s voice go on to ask me, “Do you believe I say this over you?”

Through the time that was set apart that evening, I began to understand that God does not pursue me because I am impressive or can achieve great things, but just because he loves me. Period.

Hope Muller is an InterVarsity Campus Staff Member at Brown University. She loves vegan cooking and mathematics (and she does still like to run).

What practices are helping you hear God's voice more clearly?


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