Rest for the Weary

I Kings 19:11-13 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 

Life is loud.   Computers, cars, cell phones, music, television, offices, stores, everywhere there is noise.    There has to be more noise these days than ever before in the history of mankind.  Life, even lived alone, can be very loud because we a capable of bombarding ourselves from every direction if we so choose. The tools are all around us.  I believe that the external noise has a strong correlation to the internal noise in which we are capable of enveloping ourselves.  The more we want to drown out our insides, the more we embrace the loudness of life.

I remember the night that I came to realize all the things I was doing to drown out the Lord’s whisper within me and to drown out the hurt, the pain, and my own voice because I simply didn’t want to face or deal with truth.   Not surprisingly, I didn’t come to my own realization by looking at myself but instead by looking at another.  In this case, it was the man to whom I was married at the time.   He was sitting in a recliner.  He had headphones on, listening to music, he had the TV going, and he had a magazine in his hands.  The phone was placed strategically by his side and the dog was waiting for the hand that would stroke her intermittently.  It was a Kodak moment for me- one of those moments that the huge a-ha happens.  I saw it.  I saw him desperately trying to drown out his own reality with an over abundance of stimulating externals.  It was such a sad scene and so revealing.

Sometimes we get busy stimulating ourselves,  and become inundated simply to avoid the silence. (Is it any wonder we are a society of fatigued folks?)   It’s when we are uncomfortable in silence that we have a clue that we might very well be avoiding, operating out of some level of fear or grief or denial or attempting to escape.  If silence is something we crave, then we are blessed.   Stillness and quietness and silence are necessities for spiritual health- and therefore physical and emotional health.

Go back and visit, in your mind for just a moment (feel it), as though you were with them-  the American pioneers.  They were in the wilderness, in the woods.   Their lives were filled with such depths of stillness and silence and simplicity- and hard work.   There were no lights so as soon as the sun went down, lanterns and candles and fires were the only things that kept them from being in the dark- from early in the evening through the rising of the sun. This soft light was the only light.  (Can you feel the relaxation of a fire burning and no lights on?) As the sun rose,  there were sounds of animals, sounds of cooking and farming and life during the day.  There were books to read aloud and songs to be sung but these were all personal things, not a rushing synthetic river of noise, flowing past them and catching them in its throws, whisking them away into some other time or place that doesn’t even belong to them.  They were present in the moment and stillness, quietness and simplicity were integral parts of life.  There was no running hard to get their children from soccer practice to gymnastics to piano lessons.  There was no stressful daily commute in noisy traffic with cars rushing by and radios blaring.  There were no people in their living rooms, people they may or may not even like, talking to them through boxes but having no personal relationship with them.  Stillness, silence, simplicity, and true relationship were the marks of their life.  It calms me to even consider this reality.

Ok, come back to today now and balance this out.   Was life way back then utopia?  Well, of course not.  Two words- indoor plumbing.   There are definitely things that are better in modern life.  Yet there are drawbacks.  Think of the mouse, in the cage, running faster and faster and faster on that wheel, thinking it’s getting somewhere but in reality, it was only wearing itself out.   Yup.  You got it.

The point isn’t that we should regret living in 2013.  We are here for a reason, His reason.  The point is- for just a moment, didn’t it touch you to think of a simpler time and place- one that was much more quiet?   Quietness can happen even today.   It can.   Turn off the TV, shut down the music.  Disconnect the phone.   Get in the tub with some candles and bubbles or wherever it fits for you, and be still.  Be quiet.  Be alone with the One who loves you more than anyone else ever will.   And if this place is uncomfortable, ask Him to reveal why and heal why.   He will.  He longs for alone time with you.

I invite you, and I invite myself to have more and more moments of stillness, of quiet, so that we can truly rest our weary selves.   God sometimes chooses to not be in the strong wind, to not be in the loud noise, to not be in the drama of the fire- but instead to only be found in the stillness.  Listen for it.   Let Him reveal and let Him heal- our wounds, our fatigue, our incessant need to be stimulated.  It’s in this place that we find purpose and it’s in this place that we find meaning.  It’s in this place that we discover a peace that flows into the core of our very being.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”

Isaiah 30:15  “For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.”

Takeaway:   There’s a good litmus test for our relationship with the Lord and with ourselves.  Are we craving silence and stillness and alone time with ourselves and with Him?   If this is not a priority, then there is a good chance that we are running.  Running is easy to do in this fast paced world of cyber noise.    God speaks in stillness and asks us to be still so that He can be alone with us, to just be with us and to communicate with us.   He desires alone time with us even greater than we desire alone time with the person in this life who holds our heart.   It’s time to slow down, make stillness a priority, and find our rest in Him.  

Prayer:  Dear Lord, please forgive my need to stimulate myself with this life.   I want to want to slow down and spend time in quietness and in confidence, with You.  Grow in me the longing to be alone with You, to hear Your voice, and help me to move out of the way any barrier to this intimacy that You may find in me.    Call me gently, sweet Jesus, that we may spend time together each and every day.   

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