O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore. Psalm 131
The word quiet evokes various images for me. Images like enjoyment of nature with only the sounds of a trickling stream and birdsong.
The dark stillness of night where rest and sleep happen.
A space of time to be still and let go of worries and responsibilities.
Peace. Lack of chaos. A sense that everything will be OK.
Our lives seldom look or feel like this. We have deadlines to meet. Family demands to satisfy. Work schedules. And then after we’ve somehow managed to find a way to keep up with the outside world, we still have our own hearts to deal with. So often conflict and confusion invade and stir up all sorts of turmoil and anxiety.
Whew. So many things interrupt the calm we try so hard to claim.
So how do we do it? Is there a way to live in a noisy busy world while staying attentive to God?
Yes. I’m happy to report that a way does exist, but it’s hidden. We have to be intentional about its discovery. If we pursue it, freedom from the need to control and manage lures us. Deeper trust in God defines the steps we take. We let go of our need to speak or to generate noise. Time spent in the quiet moves us to listening until we begin to hear God’s voice. Our lives tell us what he’s saying through our circumstances, our pain, and our longings. The quiet gives us time to listen.
Complete quiet can feel intimidating at first. We like noise. It covers up pain or distracts us from loneliness. Like acclimating to the water temperature in a swimming pool, we have to ease into quiet. Soon it starts to feel good, natural even, until we don’t want to get out again.
How do we grow comfortable with quiet? This is one of those questions where practical tools make the best answer. These reliable steps lead us into a time to recognize and enjoy God’s presence:
- Frist, set a timer for five minutes. Gradually work up to ten minutes or longer.
- Notice the sounds; your heartbeat, your breathing, the traffic, the sounds of nature.
- Let the noise go.
- Say to the Lord, “I invite you into this place with me.”
- Read one of these Scripture passages: Psalm 63:1-8; Psalm 37:1-7; Psalm 139; Matthew 14:13-21; John 12:1-8; John 15:1-16; Ephesians 3:14-20
- Ask the Lord to reveal himself to you as you read.
- Sit in the quiet and listen to your heart until the timer goes off. The Lord is there. Take him with you as you return to your day.
- Continue the conversation regularly, maybe once or twice per week, or more frequently as quiet becomes more comfortable.
Heavenly Father, you know my heart and how I am formed. I invite you into these places of quiet so that together we can move forward into the life you’ve created me for. Amen.