Our society is void of deep, soul-rest quiet and it’s leading to an epidemic of exhaustion and constant discomfort. I see it in the ways I feel the need to fill every second of conversation up with chatter, in how quick I am to turn on music when driving alone, and (most dangerously) in the amount of time I spend scrolling through my phone. I seek so much comfort in information overload that I can’t even sleep without a machine thats sole purpose is to create noise! We wonder why our stress levels are so high, why we consume at exorbitant amounts, why we don’t feel understood by others, why we can’t seem to identify our own needs, and why we “can’t hear God’s voice”. The lack of time we give to quieting our ears, eyes, mouths, minds, and hearts has led us to grasp at anything and everything to satisfy our weary souls and misdirected longings. The danger of this is that we’ll continue to become more and more consumed with ourselves and further isolated from the truth and hope of the Gospel.
There is something to be said about the plot of John Krasinski’s newest film, ‘A Quiet Place’. In the movie, the evil creature finds its prey by tracking the noises they make which, in turn, means the characters live in constant fear of being killed every time they make a sound. Not to say that our voices are unimportant or shouldn’t be heard but rather that maybe, amongst all the noise, we become unaware and even complacent of the evil that waits to attack. So why do we so quickly run to and find comfort in the noise when it's the very addiction that's ruining us? Are we scared to consider what we really think, of loosening our grips on control, of if God will speak and what will He say? I think we’ve been taught the lie that a solution to our longing comes from within ourselves, that if we can just get enough information or attention then we’ll be satisfied.
In The Fellows Program this year I’ve been humbled to learn that this simply is not true. We’ve learned (often the hard way and with much stumbling) how to intently listen to one another, how to think deeply and for longer, and how to incorporate rhythms of silence and reflection into our daily lives. It is because of these “practices of quiet” that I have begun to unpack the purpose that the Lord has while sitting still and listening. I recently came across the words in Psalms 62 and 63 that speak directly to our souls needing not just to be heard but to hear as well. In Psalm 62 titled, “My Soul Waits for God Alone”, David writes:
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath…” (62:5-9).
Our souls are made to wait, to long, to be set on the Father who is outside of ourselves and outside of our own egos. Out of fear, when we attempt to fix our wayward hearts with more Instagram scrolling, longer Netflix binges, more yelling, louder music, and busier schedules, it ruins us. David says here that whether we’re in a depressive state or abounding we’re in a delusion because we’ve set our trust and hope on the wrong things, on ourselves. The hope of Psalm 62 and ultimately the Gospel, is that our souls are free and have found rest; that, in Christ, God is our safe dwelling place, our ultimate quiet place. Even more beautiful are the Psalmist’s words that immediately follow in Psalm 63:
“ O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me” (63:1-4, 8)
Praise God for the promise of longing! We are not wrong to be in want or to feel the pangs of dissatisfaction but rather are being pointed to our thirst for a Savior. The order of these two Psalms is everything- that in silence and in our expectant-waiting the Spirit reveals our thirst for and dependence on the Father. Contrary to what society teaches, in silence the blinders are removed, the headphones are pulled out, and our true reality is revealed - that we’re in need and that our soul-weariness can only be satisfied in Jesus. The consistent ebb and flow between waiting, thirsting, and being satisfied should define our lives as Christians.
Through the busyness of the Fellows program and by the grace of God and others, I’ve learned that I am in need of rest and quiet; in need of a consistency outside of myself and outside of all of the noise that the world offers. My continual prayer is that we would be people who live like expectant watchmen (Psalm 130), that we wouldn’t fear silence but rather wait in it long enough to hear God speak. That, ultimately, we be a redeemed people who find blessed rest and freedom in a life that is hidden, not in one that seeks fulfillment in the “noise”.