"Be still and know I am God" (Psalm 46:10).
Sometimes I wonder what we are missing. In the midst of the hurried world, what is lost when we rush? As we run from place to place, from task to task, from event to event, what have we overlooked, ignored, entirely missed in the gift of this one day? God calls us to be still and listen for him in the quiet. Like Elijah listening for God in the whisper, I want my family to have opportunities for quiet moments to connect with God.
Quiet moments are challenging to find on the run. We live in a busy house. With four kids involved in sports and music, there is always something to attend. Rehearsals, practices, homework, school, church, youth group--the list is endless. These are all good things, but do we need to fill our days this full? Some days it seems we are home less than we are in the car, and I am beginning to feel the cost of such fullness, even in the knowledge of the blessings our busy life bestows. Acknowledging the hamster wheel and choosing to step off it are important first steps for refocusing our family's attention.
Pausing the schedule is just not enough when other things come to fill the void. In our ever-connected society life can just be so loud: TV blaring, computer whizzing, dishwasher running, piano playing, door slamming, child yelling, words spelling, kid laughing, iPod singing, dog barking, dryer buzzing, washer spinning, engine starting. So we decided to try to unplug and take a new approach.
For just a little while, we unplugged, turned off, and settled in. For a period of time, we stayed home, got quiet, and took a good long breath. Resting with God's word and delighting in his creation were medicinal to our hearts. In choosing to be unplugged for a time made clear quite quickly that the overflowing world to which we had become tethered was stealing from us gifts of grace that could soothe our weary souls.
With teens lying on sofas and little ones resting on pillows, we opened the windows and let the house fall quiet, made an intentional decision to be still, and grabbed some books to peruse. We did not, in any way, fill the space with sound or screens or distraction. But God did.
A softly blowing breeze tussling the leaves outside.
A myriad of birds singing songs of connection and joy.
A silence that was bigger than us, surrounding us, calming us.
All of these things are precious gifts. We found missing gifts of peace and grace.
God's blessings are ever present. We need only tune-in to receive them. Life can become congested with good things, but the God who does not change remembers what we need. God designed us with a need for resting in him. The One who is all-knowing and all-powerful ministers to who we are and meets needs we cannot voice. He knows ways to reach inside our souls and still us. And while we find ourselves surrounded by all that feels urgent, we were never supposed to go and go and go. We need quiet. Our families need stillness.
God set us an example of resting from labors and delighting in the goodness of creation. We are made to be people of Sabbath rest following the footsteps of our Creator. Even Jesus left the busyness of ministry to find a secluded place for prayer. If Jesus recognized that need, how much more should we? We don't get far in our own strength, we need to rest in our Savior and draw from his strength. Sometimes, we need to make all the noise stop, even just for a few moments, so that we can relax our wound-up selves and recognize what we have been missing. In the quiet, God calms our fears and ministers to our weary hearts.
There is beauty and melody and grace all around. And we can be soothed, quieted, comforted by the simplest of sounds. Or we can cling to our pace, press on and press on--and miss the gifts we are given. What might we find if we risk being still?
Rev. Joel Vande Werken
Rev. Joel Vande Werken