On Wednesday we talked about cultivating a quiet heart, a heart at rest even in the midst of a frenzied world. But what does that look like? Here are a few thoughts on that.
Although I don’t currently live in the U.S., I have an incalculable store of memories of American Christmases. (Also, every two or three years, we as a family visit my parents in northwest Indiana for the holidays). If ever there is a hectic, chaotic time to be had, it’s in U.S. retail stores as the 25th of December draws near. One memory that sticks out is one of the times that I headed into the fray that crazy week before the holiday. Walking very slowly through the bustling crowds, I was purposefully taking in every moment. Surrounded by agitated energy and rush, I was enveloped in peace.
I thoughtfully took my time making my selections, enjoying the cheerful Christmas decor. Humming along to the seasonal music playing, I felt Holy Spirit’s presence with me. His supernatural peace made me impervious to the hustle and stress carried by so many individuals that swarmed around me.
I stood patiently in line afterwards, contented even though the wait was long. When my turn finally came, I caught the harried cashier’s eye and smiled at her. My cheery interaction with her was obviously welcome, as it followed harsh, impatient comments by previous customers. I could see her shoulders relax some even as she remarked to me about how late she would be working. I left the store knowing that Jesus through me had made a difference in her evening.
This is a micro-picture of the whole of my life. Wherever I go, I carry God’s peace with me. Due to how often it happens, I have grown accustomed to people telling me that they like to be around me because my company is soothing. I don’t share this to brag on myself. I didn’t produce any of this. The Holy Spirit did it. This is His fruit. Rather, my sharing is for the purpose of invitation. I want to invite you, too, into a lifestyle centered in God’s rest.
Take a look at our verse for today. “I have calmed and quieted my soul.” Did you know that we can calm and quiet our own souls? The Hebrew here literally means, “I have made level and made quiet my soul.” You and I can cultivate a quiet inner life with level, even, steady emotions. How? The key is in the preceding verse:
Hmm… Great matters. Things too difficult for me. What could the Psalmist be alluding to? Could it be all of those factors in your life that you have no control over? I believe so. I believe this Scripture is referring to lofty questions like:
- What if your boss doesn’t want to keep you on any more?
- Will your spouse will ever change?
- Will you ever find someone wonderful who wants to marry you?
- What if someone precious to you dies?
- Could nuclear war happen in your lifetime?
- What will become of you in your old age?
All of these are matters too difficult for you and me. Trying to control them, according to this verse, would be prideful; haughty even. Trying to manage them on our own strength and wisdom would be putting ourselves into the position that belongs rightfully to God.
He invites us to do the opposite. He beckons us into the place of a weaned child. And what of that symbolism? A weaned child is one who has been fully satisfied, and learned to deeply trust. The child has “no thought for the ‘morrow.” He has not even one fleeting doubt that he will be always cared for. His head is peacefully nestled into his mother’s neck in absolute, contented abandon.
Let your Abba figure out tomorrow. Don’t concern yourself with the things too difficult for you. Daddy’s got them. Nestle into His arms.
Calm and quiet your soul.
Do you make cultivating the fruit of peace an active pursuit?