The Art of Godly Stillness
It seems like no matter where I go or what I do, there’s always an expectation.
Do something. Anything.
It doesn’t really matter what, but whatever you do, don’t remain still, lest you be caught lazy or weak.
Have you ever noticed how awkwardly we view silence in a conversation. And wandering in the quiet, alone, makes you strange.
Even in the church it seems if you aren’t speaking out, if you’re not praying loudest, singing in worship, participating in small talk with the strangers around you,
You are doing it wrong.
I have to wonder, in light of all that, when did we lose the art of stillness?
God Himself said, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
In 1 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy as well as other places, the authors encourage us to live “a quiet and peaceful life,” and the greek original wording in some of those passages even refers to leading an “ambiguous” life.
I’ll be honest, small talk is and never has been my forte.
Deep down I long to have beautiful, soul drawn out conversations with the people I do not even know, and much more the ones I do. That I might have a purpose to all that I do, not merely to entertain myself and those around me with trivial things and moments of relief from solitude.
Be still, and know that He is God.
We speak so frequently about the “still, small voice” of God, yet rarely do we put the lifestyle of stillness and quiet into practice.Our culture is busy, always running around, distracted by everything. If we aren’t dealing with drama and stress in our own lives, we seek it out in the lives of others, celebrity gossip, the big media craze.
Yet we were never told to be conformed to the culture around us. In fact, we ought to look entirely opposite from the world, being transformed through the renewing of our minds.
Yet here in the chaos we run, chasing after flashing lights and pretty ideas, as though having the right catchphrase, knowing the right culture, finding the right career… as though those things even matter.
I’ve seen couples who live like this. Always busy, never around each other to just be quiet and be around one another. And even when they are just in the house, without the world to attend to, still they amuse themselves with the trivial, the merest moment of boredom too much effort to endure. Addicted to the smart devices, though their bodies rest, their mind stays active, trying to solve some deep need and desire, like the things on a screen really even matter.
How deep does the Father’s pain run as He seeks us out only to find us seeking anything else to stay distracted from the beauty of Him? Here he has formed us, given us life blessed and free, yet I feel I can’t give him the time of day, much less every part of me.
To live a quiet, peaceful life…. Do we really know what peace is anymore?
Silence is clouded by the humming of cars and engines, and the cultural norms shut down the idea of of even spending time alone for peace, without being occupied by distractions and trivial games the world gives us to play, or more broken inventions that we hide from the light of day.
To just be able to sit in the presence of God, without DOING anything… To us it doesn’t seem possible, if anything it sounds like boredom manifest.
Yet truthfully since I have begun to embrace that stillness, I’ve found my life feels more fulfilled. Not for sake of doing something better or achieving greater but simply being able to listen to the only one who truly knows what He is talking about.
We act so wise, like we have it all sorted out, like God must not know what He is talking about. We think him old fashioned or outdated. Yet who are we to see him as less than the almighty? We who are but children, trying so desperately to be grown up with a soul that was never meant to face pain.
G.K. Chesterton said once, “It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” “
We make our world seem so complex that God has no room to move, for in our minds, in order for him to influence us we must have the right worship, proper and respectable behavior, read the right scriptures, look enough like we have our lives together. Then, we think… only then will He move.
Yet the truth could be nothing further. It is not in our propriety that God finds his place, but rather in the simple spirit of a child, someone who wants for nothing more than to spend time laughing and dancing with the most beloved father.
What made us so convinced life must be complex? In nature, yes we see a beautiful, delicate balance as all creation responds to him, but it was only ever in simplicity and love that he created the world. Simple words he spoke and then he smiled and said, “Yes, this is very good.”
We humans argue about petty and pointless things, when in reality we are simple, lonely children, trying to wander around without our father, as though in the supermarket, distracted by the fancy things on shelves and acting like we are knowledgeable about what we do or where we walk, but we are merely children after all.
A friend of mine once said, “Oh how I long for the day when we can sit at the feet of the Holy One as children listening to their father tell the most magnificent story of all. Then we will be free.”
Eternity with Him doesn’t start when you reach the pearl gates of Heaven.
Eternity starts now, when you forget the expectations the world has placed upon you, when proving yourself no longer matters as He tells you how much He loves you. Now, dear children, now you may come and rest.
He is the father who will run with you in the fields when you have more energy than you know how to handle.
He is the dad who stays up into the night as you cry from the pain of this world and makes you hot tea, listens as you pour out your heart to him, wraps you nearer.
He is the one who takes you on long walks to show you all the beauty in this world, gleefully teaching you about the birds, the stars, the paintings of sunrises he designed just for your eyes.
He is the father who makes you rest when you don’t want to, because he knows what is best, and the one who will run and throw a ball around so you get the exercise you need.
When did we stop being children?
Why is resting in his love not enough any more?
We are simple children in a complex world with a knowledge of Good and Evil that only makes us old and tired.
Come to him, all you weary and heavy laden. Come to him, let the little children come.
For to those who have the wonder of a child, the greatest Glory shall he reveal.
Many are called, but those chosen are the ones who dared dream of greater. When He tells them a story they have the heart to believe that maybe miracles could happen and maybe,
… just maybe