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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Quiet isn't the absence of noise

I bet you could almost guess what my "Q" List would hold this morning.  There were a variety of possibilities, such as quickness to respond to God's voice and leading, or possibly the quality of time and energies you expend toward the things God desires.  I chose just one word to focus on this morning:  Quietness.  For most of us, this comes as a bit of a hard thing because we are used to "noise" in our lives.  We are inundated with all kinds of things which add background and foreground noise.  Background noise is there, almost unnoticed, until it is gone.  Foreground noise is evident, with it even getting our attention in the here and now.  Yet noise is just that - noise.  Noise is really something which just confuses the clarity of that which is really trying to come through!  So, as we focus this morning on our Q-List, let's begin by thinking about the things which are really "just there" creating confusion in our lives - things which once removed might just give us a little more clarity on what it is God may just be trying to show us.

I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart.  Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.  (Psalm 131:2 MSG)

Quietness is the opposite of noise - it is not the total absence of it, but it is the clarifying and eliminating of all which lends confusion.  As this process occurs, the "disturbance" created by the noise settles and you are often free to begin to hear / see the reality of what is ahead of you.  For most, we'd say the place of quietness was the total absence of noise, but I have to ask this - how many of us actually can achieve a place of comfort in the total absence of noise?  Most of us would say it kind of freaks us out.  We have a hard time remaining absolutely still, no one talking, no I-Pod plugged in, no fan creating some background noise.  This is probably why so many people just cannot abide with silence when they are together with each other - silence makes us uncomfortable.  Why?  Maybe it is because we begin to imagine all the things which might be "wrong" when one is silent.  Or perhaps it is the intensity of focus it requires to be truly still.  It really doesn't matter - silence is difficult.

Our psalmist reminds us of what it is God desires - a quiet heart.  Remembering the heart is made up of our mind, will, and emotions, it might just make sense why this is so important.  When there is a clarifying and eliminating of thoughts which only create confusion, lend distraction, or impede our truly concentrating, God is pleased.  When the desires of our heart are toward that which doesn't create more chaos in our lives, God is pleased.  When our emotions are not in a tumultuous churning, God is pleased.  How many of us actually achieve this place of "quietness" or "stillness" - I mean really?  Here's something you need to keep in mind - it is not the absence of emotion, the absence of decisiveness, or the absence of thinking God desires, it is the centering of our emotions, thoughts, and desires on him!

Some of us need to slow down long enough to actually get quiet before God.  We just spin at hundreds of revolutions per minute continuously and wonder why we don't feel fulfilled, whole, and like we have made a difference today.  The quietness David exemplified in his life was not the total absence of activity, but the choice to engage in the "RIGHT" activity.  A few week's ago, my pastor posed a question which actually provided an assurance about a decision I had made earlier that week.  Here's what he asked:  What are you spending your time, talent, and resources on today which could be done by another, while not pursuing what only you can do?  Now, let that one sink in.  We often spend ourselves on doing what someone else could very easily do - all the while neglecting the very thing NO ONE ELSE can do!  It is God's intention for us to be quiet enough to get clarity on matters of the soul such as this.  When we begin to ask the right questions, we might just get the right answers!

Here's the down and dirty, friends:  Quietness is difficult, but it is necessary.  If we aren't regularly "settling" our hearts long enough to actually begin to see the "confusion" settle as well, we are just "settling for" life in a confused, chaotic state.  No amount of self-help classes or books will ever change things for us.  No amount of retreats to the mountain tops will ever make up for the lost times when we could have just settled down right there on our own couches and let God speak to us in the stillness of our time with him.  Maybe this is why Christians have coined the phrase "Quiet Time" as the time we take each day to be alone with God, get perspective on his Word for us, and then share from our hearts with him.  

David also penned these words:  Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!  (Psalm 46:10 AMP)  Don't miss it - he tells us to "LET BE" and "BE STILL".  In other words, let things go and then be still.  It isn't until we learn to let go we come into the place of stillness.  Just sayin!