I have a sound machine right outside the door of my office. The purpose of it is to create white noise so that private conversations won’t tempt any ears. It works really well, too. When I walk into my office and close the door the difference in sound is remarkable. For me it suddenly becomes an oasis of quiet where I can think, listen, and relax. It creates a healthy boundary and silences the anxiety of the world.
Going for a run provides a similar experience. This may sound odd, but when I get really anxious, or if I have a headache, I’ll often go for a good run. As I ease into the rhythm my thoughts slow down and something remarkable happens. First, I am able to direct my thoughts to the Lord without all the frenetic activity around me. I don’t take my cell phone with me. It is me, the Lord, and the sounds of creation. I’ve had some great conversations with Him while running. The other thing that happens is the release of all those good endorphins that God created as a part of our physical make up. To me, it’s an incredible show of his creativity and his kindness. Those endorphins create a healthy “high” that I have come to appreciate. When I return from my run my angst and usually my headache are gone.
In either case I have come to value the emotional, spiritual, and physical benefits of quiet. It’s hard to underestimate its benefit. Most of us seem to run at unsustainable rates trying to keep all the plates spinning. That pace will usually wear us down. When we expend high amounts of emotional energy just to maintain it will be challenging to keep healthy conversations and relationships with others and with God. Sitting quietly often feels unnatural and for some it feels impossible, but it is essential to have moments of rest and solitude. I believe the Lord created this need, too. He understands our finitude.
The Psalmist writes in Psalm 46 that God is our refuge and strength and he is our very present help in trouble. He goes on to encourage the reader to be still and know that he is God. Being quiet before the Lord provides refuge, protection and comfort. Finding this sort of peace is challenging, though.
Our lives are full of noise. It seems most people have become addicted to sound and background noise. Many households have the television on all the time. Different stages of life also take us through very busy times. There seems to always be an errand or task that has to get done. Our cell phones own us. Most of us feel lost without them. They’re always alerting us to emails, tweets, texts, or new Facebook statuses. It’s hard to escape the craziness of the world. So finding time to get away can feel almost impossible. But we must. Let me offer five ways to find time for quiet.
- Go for a walk around the block (and leave your cell phone at home). It doesn’t take a lot of time and doesn’t need to, but choose to carve out 15 minutes to walk and take that time to pray and worship God. You’ll be getting exercise and you’ll have some quiet.
- Get up 30 minutes early only three times a week. Use that time to read your Bible, but also use it to just listen to the Lord. You might keep a pad of paper nearby to write down those things that may steal your quiet. Like tasks, or things you need at the grocery store. Write it and forget it.
- Head to a park and spend your time there thanking God for all that you see.
- Meet a friend and pray together. Try to spend as much time listening to her as you do sharing your own thoughts. Share your thoughts and then pray together.
- Use this time to write out your thoughts in the form of prayer. Consider this a living conversation with the Lord. Every now and then stop and listen.
- (I know I said five). Turn off the television for 30 minutes. Read a book.
The important thing in all of this is the discipline of carving time out of your week to have quiet. You will be surprised at how refreshing it is. Some of you will have to make extra efforts to do this because you have small children in the house or your work is more demanding of you and you are exhausted when you come home. I understand but do this anyway. Be realistic with your expectations, but by all means, do something.
Ultimately we find our rest in Christ. He is the Lord of the Sabbath (rest) and when we are in Christ we are no longer in contention with God. Use quiet to help you get to know this amazing God better. He encourages us to come boldly into his throne room. Take him up on that invitation. Take a moment to read Psalm 145 and consider it’s amazing message.
I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
[The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]
The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.