The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)
The older I get, the more I enjoy times when the world around me is quiet. I love my children and grandchildren but sometimes putting ten young endless energy machines in close proximity to my ears creates a massive cacophony of noise. It’s a good delighted children noise, only occasionally interrupted by a disagreement, but it is still loud and ear piercing.
I’m often reminded of the Psalmist’s admonition to be still and thus draw closer to knowing God. I often want to be still, or be quiet, just to relax and calm my aging nerves. Fortunately, I can experience both of these in my time of quiet.
Let me distinguish a time of quiet from a quiet time. In Christian circles the term quiet time has been hijacked to reference our spiritual time of reflection and communion with God. It’s too often proclaimed as the solution to our difficult Christian walk in a fallen world. It’s also proclaimed, to the family of God, as if it’s a requirement for true spirituality. Thus, to me, the term, at least the Christian community version, has lost its luster and appeal.
I’m more inclined to describe a quiet time as the Psalmist does, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3 NIV) I can picture myself sitting in a comfortable chair beside a beautiful, quiet lake with only the sound of the forest occasionally interrupted by some wild animal noise. There I can calm my heart and back off from the hustle and bustle of the world.
I don’t have that great push to be loud and impress the world with my spirituality in the hopes of their turning to Christ because of my noisy speech. I find it much easier to take a quiet approach, let God speak through his presence in my life, and wait to see the Holy Spirit bubbling to the surface in the form of a question. I want people to ask me, “Why am you so different from others we know?”
In the church we are often implored to get out and get going. That has its place. I should know after thirty-eight plus years as a missionary. I’m also impressed with Paul’s encouragement to Timothy when he writes, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 NIV)
To live a quiet and peaceful life sounds really good to me. The hustle and bustle of today’s work to move up the ladder, make a name for yourself and become a leader sounds noisy and aggressive, not peaceful. Instead I think I’ll work on cultivating fruit in my life. Jesus talks a lot about the vine and producing fruit. I find it interesting that the branches (us) grow and produce fruit based on their relationship with the vine (Jesus) which give them sustenance and keeps them strong.
The Thessalonians were reminded of their place in today’s world. “But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.” (1 Thessalonians 4:10b-11 NKJV) Do your job, keep out of other people’s business and lead a quiet life. That sounds great to me and relieves me of the stress created by those who feel we must be out there working for the church which as more important than working for our livelihood.
I love times when I can sit and be quiet. It allows me to think more clearly. It relieves stress. It allows me to clear my head and hear God speaking to me. It’s so much more productive than filling my life with work and grasping after what I cannot obtain. The preacher tells us, “Better a handful with quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6 NKJV)
What’s in our hands today? Is their quietness, a chance to recharge and clear your thoughts? Or, is our life filled with never ending lists, business and the noise of the world? I think I’ll work on the quiet side of life. I’m glad even God calls us to be still and realize . . . He is God!