“Quiet the mind and the soul speaks.”
That thought is like a breath of fresh air. How many times do I feel like I need to quiet my mind? That my mind is buzzing and bouncing so much with activity like a pinball machine. Pinging here and there. That if I have to think one more thought, speak one more yes, add one more date to my calendar, answer one more text or call, my brain might literally explode.
And, if that is not enough, have you noticed how noisy our world has become? For goodness sake….we can’t even get gas without a screen telling us the latest news and weather. Even our medical offices blast health news while we wait. Every store plays music. Restaurants have TVs on every wall. Our homes are filled with TVs, computers, video games, and multiple phones…beeping, dinging, blaring. Distractions and noise everywhere.
Do you ever want to just yell “QUIET!” I do!
Knowing me very well, my sweet husband asked where he could take me for a much needed peaceful date. Since the beach was out of the question and I couldn’t think of any restaurant that wasn’t loud and crowded, I decided on a local vineyard. We packed a picnic, although a little chilly that early spring evening, and headed to our quiet destination. On a weeknight, it was not crowded at all. The view is always beautiful overlooking the rolling green hills. Like the beach, there is a slower pace. A relaxed atmosphere.
As we spread out our blanket and pulled our meal from the basket, my mind was quieted. My soul breathed a little. A little calm. A little refuge from the usual noise and busyness. The constant pinging.
Emily Freeman says in The Next Right Thing, “The world is run by worn-out people, and our soul is lost beneath the piles of everyday life.” She says, “The best way to uncover the white space in my soul is to be still.”
Yes. Still and quiet. Just what I needed that night. And, honestly, what I need a little every day.
This is what the Lords says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths (no doubt before smart phones and GPS). Ask where the good way is (which means a good course of life or mode of action) and walk in it and you will find rest (which literally means rest) for your souls. But, you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” Jeremiah 6:16 NIV
We have a choice. It is clear. Do we choose to walk the good way and find rest or refuse to listen to him and reject his word (Jeremiah 6:19)?
The good way points us back to God and his promises. It points us to a life with quiet pauses.
“Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 TPT In the translation that we know best, “Be still and know that I am God.” NIV
It’s hard to be still when we are in constant motion until we drop wearily in bed at night.
It’s hard to find quiet when our homes, offices, cars, and destinations are dinging and donging. Beeping and blaring.
Therefore, it is hard to know God because it is hard to hear the still small voice of God over all the noise.
As I sat in my house this morning, I realized how very quiet and still it seemed. No music. No TV. No phone to distract me. I just sat and listened. And, without the quiet pause, I would have missed it. I would have missed the flock of Cedar Waxwings that landed in my backyard on their journey north. Their melodies singing out in the stillness.
I moved to the window and saw over 100 filling the tree tops. It reminded me of last year about this time, when I feel like God sent this little guy my way.
Today was much like last year. I have been struggling with worry once again over several things. Maybe it is the winter blues. I don’t know. But, I stood and marveled at God’s goodness once again. To send not only the one, but another flock my way. To speak to me in the stillness “Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any one of you add one moment to his life span by worrying?” Matthew 6:26-27 CSB
You see I have never seen a Cedar Waxwing in this area until the last two years. (Not counting the one my dear friend rescued with a broken wing that was blown off course in a storm.) And, I am a nerdy birder. In fact, one year we actually did a Great Backyard Bird Count for the Audubon Society. Yep, told you. Haha. So, I know a little about birds in our area.
And, I have never known God to yell above the noise in my life. But, I have often heard His still small voice speak to my soul in the quiet pauses. A pause for prayer. A moment for meditating on His word. Even in the melodies of migrating feathered friends – reminding me of His truth in the quiet stillness of the morning.
Jesus modeled stillness and quiet pauses. In fact, there are at least 23 references to him withdrawing to solitary places. **
Like this- “Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to [his disciples], ‘Come with me (come away) by yourselves to a quiet place (secluded, solitary, desolate) and get some rest (take ease, give rest, refresh). So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” (Mark 6:31-32)
Does that sound a little like your life? It does mine. Some days are so busy that we do not even have a chance to eat. And, we don’t even have a get-away boat!
I bet we do have some time for a quiet pause though. Check your screen time setting if you have one. How much time did you spend on social media this week or YouTube videos? Or maybe it is the news feed or Netflix or Snapchat or texting or Marco Polo or TV or reading or a bazillion other optional things? Or maybe pushing that snooze 2 or 3 or 4 times? My guess is that we could all carve out a quiet pause in our day – if only 15 minutes to start – if we are intentional like Jesus. To get away. Recharge. Refuel. Rest.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance (retirement, withdrawal, returning) and rest (quietness, rest) is your salvation (be saved, delivered, placed in freedom), in quietness (to be quiet, undisturbed) and trust is your strength…” Isaiah 30:15 NIV
If we could only begin to view rest, a quiet pause each day, as our strength. Stillness, quietness requires trust.
Just like in Jeremiah, the verse continues with “but you would have none of it.”
The Israelites were caught between the approaching Egyptian army and the Red Sea. They were crying out to Moses, complaining that they should never have left Egypt (which meant they remained in slavery). I am sure they were in panic mode. Minds racing. Trying to figure out how to get out of this predicament. Worrying. Planning. Rushing around. Freaking out some more.
“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 NIV
It requires trust to cease striving. It requires trust to pull away. It requires trust to put aside everything else. To simply be instead of do – especially in the middle of a rock and a hard place like the Israelites.
It’s like the tithe. It requires trust to give a portion of our income to God regardless of how much or how little we have. Same goes for our time. It requires trust to give a portion of our time to God regardless of how much or little we have. Rick Warren says “You may think you can’t afford to tithe. You may think it’s too much to “give away” 10 percent of what you’re given. But the reality is, you can’t afford not to do it.” True for our time, too.
What will our choice be? To refuse to listen to him and reject his word or to walk the good way?
To turn our thoughts to him. To take a much needed rest. To quiet and still our minds so that our souls can speak.
“My soul, be quiet before God, for from him comes my hope.” Psalm 62:5 ISV
Putting It Into Practice
Confession: I struggle, too. Some days are easier than others to carve out a quiet pause. I shared this experience to remind myself how important it is.
Dig Deeper: Read the following scriptures: Psalm 23, Psalm 131:2, Psalm 37:7, Psalm 24:14, Lamentations 3:25-26.
**Read through the 23 references of Jesus withdrawing to solitary places on this blog: https://www.soulshepherding.org/jesus-solitude-and-silence/
What are your greatest distractions from taking a quiet pause?
How much time do you spend on your phone, computer, TV, hobbies, etc?
Use your phone for good. Set a reminder on your phone for a quiet pause each day.
Select a time when you can pull away for at least 15 minutes to start (working up to 30) or for several short pauses throughout the day. To turn your mind back to God and his promises.
Consider deleting time-stealing apps or set a time limit on those apps.
Journal your time with God. Write down scriptures that speak to you or experiences when He speaks to your heart in the stillness.