There is something utterly precious about quiet. Having grown up in the city and lived in cities for most of my life, there is always noise of some kind—traffic, sirens, dogs, trains, loud music, and the far off roar of airplane engines. Even in the mountains and forests, noise is everywhere—the noise of the wind in the trees, the chirping of birds, and the loud hammering of woodpeckers. It is nearly impossible to live without sound, but it is possible to reduce the noise of distractions.
In our instant-coffee life world, we have perpetual distraction. There is endless celebrity gossip, ever-updated social media feeds, and engaging video games. We can stream music, download free audiobooks, and access information in a second. Just ask Siri. We distract ourselves from life’s problems and stave off all threats of boredom. Our minds never have the chance to be truly quiet.
I will be the first to admit to spending a good deal of time distracted. I listen to audiobooks, the Bible, and music almost daily. Having suffered from depression in the past, I have found that keeping my mind engaged prevents my mind from going into a downward spiral. Yet, there are times when I simply require some quiet so my brain can process life. Those times of quiet allow me to talk with the Father when I need to make a decision or grapple with an unsolvable problem.
The gospels reveal times when Jesus would go off by himself to pray. Jesus—the Son of the Almighty God—took time to be alone in quiet stillness. This same Jesus slept peacefully in a boat during a raging storm. This same Jesus had the peace of heart and strength of will to endure abandonment, beating, and excruciating pain to bring peace to you and me.
We admire Jesus’ quiet time, yet act as though we do not have the same need—not until we find ourselves overwhelmed by a raging storm without and a sinking heart within.
Instead of racing toward every distraction, take time to unplug from the world. Disconnect from the phone, turn off the TV, find a quiet place, and just be still. Do it daily. Do it weekly. Do it whenever you can. Our hearts will never find peace if we never cultivate peace.
If you’re not sure how to do “quiet,” here’s a suggestion: Start with two minutes of complete silence, thinking about who God is and all He has done for you. Follow this silence with five minutes of listing on paper what you are thankful for and the troubles of your heart. End your quiet time with prayer. You can do this whole exercise in fifteen minutes or less. If you are still worried about time, set a timer near enough so you’ll hear when it goes off, but far enough away so you can’t check it.
You might be in a season of life where fifteen minutes of quiet seem impossible. I once had three children at home under the age of five and a potty-training puppy. I’ve been a salaried corporation worker in a company that operated on a 24/7 schedule. I spent time in college trying to stay sane under a barrage of assignments and emotional demands. There are seasons when it seems as though you are the victim of some anti-rest conspiracy. Fight for fifteen minutes. Get up a little earlier, go to bed a little later, sit in the car a little longer, but find those fifteen minutes of quiet and guard them jealously.
Quietness of spirit comes from time spent in quiet with God.
The Lord promised the gift of the Holy Spirit when we were saved through Christ. We have the comforter. We have God’s promises. We have access to God through prayer. It’s hard to notice the nearness of God when we are distracting ourselves with everything under the sun. Practice being still with God during times of quiet so you will feel His presence regardless of the noise.
Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow,
Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea,
What matters beating wind and tossing billow
If only we are in the boat with Thee?
Hold us in quiet through the age-long minute
While Thou art silent and the wind is shrill.
Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, are in it;
Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?
– Amy Carmichael
Find quiet. Be still and know that He is God. He will never leave you nor forsake you.