The road to true intimacy with God is an inward journey, proceeding into His Presence through the entrance gate of quietness of the soul. It is a narrow track that lies well off the beaten path, virtually unseen and ignored by the vast majority of humanity careening headlong through life.
– Jim Goll –
Have you noticed how hard it is to find a quiet place? The world has become so noisy! You walk into church and the “sanctuary” is everything but a sanctuary. The Merrian-Webster online dictionary define “sanctuary” as a place of refuge and protection, or as a consecrated place, but even the sanctuary has become a place polluted by noise. Bright lights and loud music with catchy tunes supposedly chosen to draw us in, set the scene for an even louder onslaught heralded in by the drummer’s one-two-three-four tapped out on wooden drumsticks.
Please don’t misunderstand me…this is not a blog dedicated to griping about the evils of “modern worship music”. It’s just me musing about my own struggle to find “quiet” , to escape the noise pollution, even in my own soul. When you contemplate the above quote by Jim Goll and you ponder the phrase “, proceeding into His Presence through the entrance gate of quietness of the soul” you can perhaps identify with my frustration. I desperately want and need more of the Lord’s presence in my life, to simply sit at His feet, listening to his voice, like Mary did. When did quietness become extinct? It died, and none of us noticed!
Jesus, our Christus Exemplar, teaches us the art of quietness of soul. Luke writes that ”Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray [in seclusion]” (Luke 5:16 AMP) and Jesus also encouraged His disciples to seek refuge in seclusion.
There was such a swirl of activity around Jesus, with so many people coming and going, that they were unable to even eat a meal. So Jesus said to His disciples, “Come, let’s take a break and find a secluded place where you can rest a while”. They slipped away and left by sailboat for a deserted spot. Mark 6: 31, 32 TPT
Let’s put this scenario into a modern context. Here is Jesus, a powerful, charismatic, miracle-working upstart with only three years to his disposal. He’s on a tight deadline, his death is imminent and he has work to do. He is the CEO of a rising star, a corporation destined to impact the globe and he has appointed twelve general managers, handpicked and in training to oversee and facilitate the meteoric growth of the corporation. If Jesus was the modern-day CEO, or possibly the senior pastor of a modern mega-church, he would certainly not be encouraging his GMs to take breaks. He would set tight deadlines, encourage short nights and long days and he would constantly remind the workers that the clock was ticking. He would employ the latest techniques to encourage the workers to go the extra mile…promises of promotion, financial incentives and maybe even resorting to emotional blackmailing or the odd guilt trip.
Yet, Jesus encourages the apostles to step away, to get alone with God and to rest and eat. “What madness!”, the modern CEO or church leader would say. Who takes a break in the middle of a financial boom, or in the middle of a revival? To that, I’d say “smart people”.
For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel has said this, “In returning [to Me] and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and confident trust is your strength.” Is. 30:15 AMP
We need to rediscover the power and the confidence that comes from quieting our souls and the atmosphere around us. Like the mystics of old, we need to “practice the presence of God” (Brother Lawrence, 17th century Christian mystic) in silence and contemplation. Moses, Joshua, Jacob and Elijah set examples that we can study and glean from. Read the following passages:
Now Moses used to take his own tent and pitch it outside the camp, far away from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting [of God with His own people]. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the [temporary] tent of meeting which was outside the camp. Ex. 33: 7 AMP
And so the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his attendant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. Ex. 33: 11 AMP
22 But he got up that same night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and waded over the ford of the Jabbok. 23 Then he took them and sent them across the brook. And he also sent across whatever he had.24 So Jacob was left alone, and a Man [came and] wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the Man saw that He had not prevailed against Jacob, He touched his hip joint; and Jacob’s hip was dislocated as he wrestled with Him. 26 Then He said, “Let Me go, for day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing on me.”27 So He asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” Gen. 32:22 – 28 AMP
Also read Elijah’s encounter with God alone in the wilderness, 1 Kings 19
From these passages we see that Moses was deliberate in seeking solitude, Joshua lingered in God’s presence, Jacob discovered his true identity and received a mighty blessing and Elijah was fired up again, recommissioned and powerfully impacted. Why would this not be true for us too?
May I encourage you to be deliberate and intentional in your pursuit of solitude. Find ways and places where you can quiet your soul and make time to linger in His presence.
Abba Father, You are the Most High God and we long to sit at your feet, to linger in your present and to find rest for our overburdened souls. Please, grant us the grace to turn off the noise, to ignore the distractions and to find peace, rest, strength and confidence in you. Amen