The Need for Stillness: More than being Quiet
The Need for Stillness:
More than being Quiet
Psalm 62: 1-2, 5-8
I wait quietly before God,for my victory comes from him.He alone is my rock and my salvation,my fortress where I will never be shaken.
Let all that I am wait quietly before God,for my hope is in him.He alone is my rock and my salvation,my fortress where I will not be shaken.My victory and honor come from God alone.He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.O my people, trust in him at all times.Pour out your heart to him,for God is our refuge.
These past few weeks have forced many of us to adopt new strategies for living... Things that we would have typically would have done are no longer options. So, we turn to something different.
Some things that we never had time for have now become more meaningful... others, perhaps, simply stir up more questions and uncertainty.
Morning Devotions. Likely most of you have some form of morning devotion time... or maybe it is evening devotion time if your morning is spent rushing off to work. Regardless, usually Christians have some time set aside during the day to read the Bible, or a devotional book, and to pray. And we typically call this our "quiet-time." It is where we seek to listen for God's voice in our day... perhaps set us off on the right track.
Now don't get me wrong... I'm not suggesting that this is a bad practice! It is a vital part of our living... get a right perspective on life before we go rushing headlong into the day. But I do wonder if perhaps we don't need something more... something greater?
Maybe we need more than simply a quiet-time... Maybe we need to learn how to be Still?
Already I can hear the voices starting: "I know how to be still! But eventually, something has to be done!" And I get it. There is work to be done... and doesn't that mean that stillness must cease? But what if... What if we are failing to understand true stillness... of heart? Of Soul?
"Stillness is what creates love. Movement is what creates life.
To be still and still moving - this is everything." Do Hyun Choe
This points us to that ancient Spiritual (Christian!) practice of meditation... of learning to be still.
And it has four important elements to it that are essential to it's vitality in our lives:
RhythmsSilenceFocus on CommunionFlexibility/Freedom
All of life has Rhythms. Morning and evening... work and rest. Light and dark... life and death. Maintaining health requires that we recognize our rhythms and keep them in balance. When we fall out of rhythm, things fall out of balance, and we find ourselves... ill at ease, out of sorts, at odds with ourselves, others and the world around us. Restoring our balance, our rhythms, helps us to find that healthy middle again.
In a spiritual sense, our devotional practices help us recognize God given rhythms in our lives... Times to work, and times to rest. Times to give, and times to receive. Times to speak, and times to listen. Our devotional practice helps us to develop rhythm...
They don't call it Quiet Time without a reason! But Silence is so hard to achieve... and endure! Sure, I can stop talking for a time... but thoughts then take up the space and flood my mind. Or the distractions that are always there... both external, and internal. (Telephone, email, or stomach rumbling!)
But Silence is such an important practice... because without silence, how can we hope to "hear" from God? Or, perhaps, maybe that's the point of our "noise"? We don't wish to hear from God...
As we work (and yes, it is work!) at being silent, we begin to realize that silence is more a state of heart than it is a state of our environment. We begin to find silence (internal silence) even when we are in the middle of a noisy crowd... And then, miracles of miracles, we suddenly begin to recognize God's presence in unexpected places.
Focus on Communion
This experience of God's presence is at the heart of what all Devotional practices are about... Yet, they often become dry exercises to be done and checked off our list. We buy into the lie that if we were more faithful, then God would love us more, bless us more, protect us more...
But our devotional activity is not about influencing God at all! God is always faithful, and is not influenced by our faithfulness or inattention! Our Devotional activity is about becoming more aware that God is present even now! And about becoming aware of that in an experiential way. About becoming aware of that in an ongoing fashion.
All of our devotional activity has this sense of Communion at it's heart... that we exist as Children of God, blessed with the presence of God, in the community of God, and living in the midst of God's creation. And so, as our devotional practice takes root within us, we begin to live our daily lives fully aware and alert to the ongoing sense of God's Community surrounding us... Christ within, Christ in friend and stranger... Christ all around.
Finally, a word of caution... We are too easily rule-bound. We take nearly anything and create strict codes of conduct which kill rather than bring life. All of our spiritual practices need to be held in open and gracious hands recognizing that there is flexibility and freedom. Life has a funny way of changing... of presenting us with challenges and obstacles. And if we hold onto our devotional practices with a dogmatic rigidity, we will find ourselves developing a growing resentment and frustration... with Life, if not with our Devotions.
Again, it is good to remember that our Devotional practice is not to influence nor impress God! They are powerless to accomplish that. They only serve to grow within us an awareness of Gods immediate and continuing presence and love. And so there is freedom in how, and when, we put these things into practice.
Developing a devotional practice, creating a stillness of heart and soul is challenging work.
Persevering in the practice of silence and stillness is incredibly challenging – especially in the beginning. But there are great benefits to be gained.
So here are ten reasons to encourage you not to quit.
We know God in ways that can only happen in silence (See Ps. 46:10)We mature in our relationship with Jesus beyond our feelings.We learn to listen to God in all of lifeWe relax, slow down and “soften.”We are transformed into Christ’s image. Our old self dies and our new self in Christ comes forth.We grow in love and compassion for others.We slowly listen more and talk less.We are less in a hurry to get things done, fix people, and run after the next spiritual gimmick.We are able to identify and expose the idols both in and around us.We are infused with a new level of courage to follow Jesus into the unknown.