Finding Strength in Stillness

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We have a blessed practice in our churches that many likely take for granted. We begin our services in reverence and silence. We enter the sanctuary and sit quietly, stilling our soul as we prepare to worship together. But it is possible that some of us only appear quiet and still on the outside. Inside we may be in turmoil or simply be distracted, entertaining thoughts about things outside our church building—I know what that is like.
We live in such a noisy, distracted world: ungodly music, traffic, televisions, cell phones with all their notifications, social media, news, games, and advertisements. Our world fears silence. Noise is their balm, giving relief to the gnawing emptiness in the soul of the one who does not know his Creator. Noise is the world’s liberator, drowning out the conscience and the still, quiet voice of the Spirit that convicts of sin, and judgment, and righteousness. As long as there is noise, the questions of, Who am I; Why am I here?; What happens when I die?; can be quelled.
Noise and distraction are the Christian’s great enemy, for it also keeps us from hearing the soft voice of the Spirit, Who is our Comforter. John 14:26 says, The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. When we are noisy, we cannot hear the Spirit’s words of teaching. When we are distracted, we do not heed the thoughts He brings to our mind, and we do not have peace. Psalm 46, God says to a people surrounded by trouble and noise, Be still and know that I am God, I will be your refuge, and He still says it to us today. He tells us that our strength and safety lie in stillness.
It takes deliberate effort to be still in our soul, but it is necessary for the growth of our faith. We must cultivate not only quietness but the ability to focus on Christ. Hebrews 12:2 exhorts us, look unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith. That word “look” means to consider attentively; concentrate on. It is to turn our eyes away from other things and fix them on something, in this case, Jesus. Colossians 3:1-2 exhorts us to Set your affections on things above. The word “set” means to direct one’s mind to; seek, strive for.
Some of the things that bring noise into our lives may not be bad things in and of themselves. But A.W. Tozer warns, “Whatever keeps me from the Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be. Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul. Let the cares of life crowd out the Scriptures from my mind, and I have suffered loss where I can least afford it. Let me accept anything else instead of the Scriptures, and I have been cheated and robbed to my eternal confusion.”
At times, the noise can even be Christian service. In Mark 6:31, we hear Jesus telling his disciples, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile; for there were many coming and going, and they had not leisure so much as to eat.
How easy or difficult it is to quiet our souls and concentrate on Jesus on a Sunday morning is probably a good indicator of how we are doing during the week. If we are not disciplining ourselves during the week, we will find it difficult to do on a Sunday morning. Let’s learn to spend some time every day with our soul quiet and our focus on Jesus.