Psalms 46:10 commands, “Be still and know that I am God.” Stillness and silence are often referenced in Scripture, and part of the lives of many saints. Perhaps the most well-known saintly example is that of St. John the Silent (d. 558 AD) who spent more than 60 years in solitude and reflection with God alone. Most of us will not live lives of extreme solitude or mortification, but moments of silence are encouraged by God and result in great blessings.
In Chapter 8 of both Matthew and Luke, we find Jesus calming a storm. Having preached for many long hours, Jesus told his disciples to get into a boat and cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. During the trip, he fell asleep, being fully human as well as divine, Jesus’ body could suffer from fatigue. While he slept a violent storm whipped up, breaking waves over the little boat. As the boat was taking on water, Jesus continued to sleep until the men woke him up, saying, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are perishing?” At that point, Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and water with two commands, “Silence!” and “Be still!” The wind stopped, and the water calmed. After that, he then rebuked his followers for their little faith.
Today, we are battered by the wind and waves of life that fatigue us physically, emotionally and mentally. The onslaught of our technological era never ceases to stop with smartphones, tablets, televisions and the internet within arm’s reach. Now imagine after a very long day at work or school you come home and find Jesus peacefully napping on the couch. With so many issues and problems engulfing you and the whole world, would you be tempted to wake him and declare, as did the disciples, “Jesus, don’t you care?”
As we see in the Scripture, not only did Jesus care, for he stopped the storm, but he also rebuked the disciples for having so little faith that they actually thought they might die with Jesus in the boat! A calm spirit, when resting in God, is an act of faith. God knows that the world is raging, and he is not immune to our cries, but he also knows that if we make him the very center of our lives, we will exude faith by our calm demeanor. If the world is a Category 5 hurricane, God is the proverbial eye of that monster storm and he wants us to join him there by employing two achievable habits; prayer and silence.
First, we are to seek out stillness to be in the presence of God through prayer. Matthew 6:6 says that we should seek out a closet, that is a quiet place, to speak with God on a regular basis. Not only will this help to maintain our relationship, but provide us with a heavenly peace the world cannot provide. People make appointments and pay vast sums of money to “talk” to a therapist, but we have the opportunity to talk to God 24/7 at no cost. Who better knows all our circumstances than the God who is there, and who loves us? A habit of “praying without ceasing” is a great way to remain calm during the storms of life.
Second, we are encouraged to live quietly. Proverbs 17:1 says, “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife.” Now it may seem impossible to have quiet in a busy household, especially with children, but it can be done. Parents need to take charge of the natural chaos a family exhibits and reign it in, so to speak, promoting certain times when “quiet” activity is practiced. Maybe it is at the dinner table, or just before bed. It may be as simple as turning off the electronics and encouraging reading, drawing, writing or working a puzzle. When the volume of life is loud, turn it down! Our spirituality is not passive, but active, and we have choices.
When things get really hectic, try and imagine Jesus sitting on his throne in heaven. Is he wringing his hands with a furrowed brow? Is he breaking out in a cold sweat over some anxiety or concern? No. Despite the fact that he knows and sees much more than we do, he is calm, cool, and collected all the time. To look directly into the eyes of Christ is to have all concern disappear, for his gaze alone stills the soul. St. Peter experienced this when he walked on the water to meet Jesus. Only AFTER he took his eyes off Jesus did he begin to sink and cry out to the Lord, “Save me!” As long as his eyes were focused on Jesus neither a storm, nor gravity, could stop him.
Jesus offers peace to his people that the world cannot give. In John 14:27 Jesus declared before his accension into heaven, “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.” God does not want his children to be nervous wreaks, but to be as he is; peaceful. Not only will the pursuit of silence, prayer and quiet benefit us and our relationship with God, but it will impact others as well. Children will notice a calm parent. A co-worker will wonder at the stillness of your demeanor when the office is in chaos. Make peace and quiet a goal and there will never be any regrets.
Keep Calm, and Pray On!