Life is busy. Often we find life can be out of control and we can become quite desperate to restore some semblance of order. For some of us right now there is something “big” that’s causing life to spin uncontrollably. Our hearts are fearful and desperate for an answer, for peace, for life to get back to what is normal. Such feelings of fear and desperation can have an all-consuming intensity about them.
It's scary. Isn’t it?
Grabbing hold of Jesus in these moments can be very difficult. We scratch around with short prayers and quick-grabs of a favorite verse. Even when we get some time for something more, our minds are working in overdrive being bombarded by our todo lists, managing the kiddies activities, meeting the expectations of our bosses and spouses and so on.
We’re all familiar with Psalm 23 and those especially wonderful verses at the beginning:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;” (V1-3a NKJV)
If you haven’t read the psalm recently, I’d encourage you to. Give yourself some time to simply sit and meditate on each of the stanzas. It’s a Psalm that brings such comfort.
When life is spinning out of control or the busyness is all consuming, I picture myself sitting with Jesus in a lush meadow beside a gentle stream. I’ll do this wherever I am in the moment. I might be in the car, in the bathroom, at my desk.
And we sit. Side-by-side. I want to speak, to get answers, all that desperation rushes to the surface. Then my shepherd puts a finger up to his lips.
Can you hear it?
Nope. Nothing. Lord, I’ve really got a lot to do (or I’m scared or I just need some answers)
And breathe. In and out, in and out, in and out.
I can feel the cool breeze, the long grass fluttering on my ankles. And I can hear a soft gurgling sound that draws me to the stream.
Then I see what I fear, it might be illness; my anxiety about whatever, float down the stream.
I smile. Thank you.
It’s peaceful and safe. Even though there may not be many words I find I don’t want to leave; I’m alone with my Lord and my shepherd. The world can wait a little while longer.
“If solitude means getting away from the busyness around us, silence is stilling the busyness within us.”1
Lent is a season of letting go so we can have more of Jesus.
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Another go to verse for many of us. The Hebrew word translated “Be still” literally means “Let go of your grip.” Let go of all that preoccupies your mind so you can open yourself up to a whole new kind of knowing.2 A knowing that can only come from God.
That’s why we need the silence. It’s where we let go. Watch whatever is filling our mind float silently down the stream.
The beauty of David’s words is that Jesus wants to lead us to the still waters all day every day. To quote James MacDonald:
“Notice the word beside. This isn’t some down-to-the-river-and-out-again experience. Beside the still waters is where you can live your life. It isn’t a monthly or a weekly thing; it’s a daily, continuous replenishing. You’re walking with Christ beside still waters, drinking in His presence. You're alone with Him, not thinking about the time. It’s quiet . . . and He's restoring you.”
Some days are better than others. Some I get to sit beside Him, others it’s a real struggle. But most days I keep turning up, even if for a little while.
How about you?
Try it. Even for a few minutes. If nothing happens the first time, or the second, or the fifth time, don’t worry. Keep turning up. Because Jesus is there with you. Beside the still waters.
What do you do to find silence with the Lord?
Notes: 1. “A Simple Way to Pray – The Wisdom of Martin Luther on Prayer;” Dr Archie Parrish – Serve International, Fifth Ed 2009, p96 2. Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Ruth Haley Barton, IVP Books, p74 (abbreviated)
*Photo courtesy of mapichai/FreeDigitalPhotos.net