Most people I know not only dislike the idea of a quiet life but in fact, are terrified of the notion.
Now I presume you are thinking something similar to what I thought when I first stumbled onto this idea—“No way! I know heaps of people who say they’d trade in everything for a quiet life.”
I know heaps of people who say that too. But I suspect many of them are lying.
The vast majority of Christians in the West have bought into the lie that "busy is best," and "loud and proud" has become our slogan.
We have forgotten how to be quiet. We have long abandoned the notion of developing stillness as a way of life. These joint disciplines have somehow slipped from grace and tumbled into the dark closet of the past.
Like all things unknown, we’ve become afraid of what’s lurking in the darkness.
So while we like to dim the lights at an appropriate time in the service and pull down the levels on the band while we all sing “Be still and know that I am God”—the reality of that statement is often a mystery to us.
Stillness terrifies us. Quietness terrifies us. The silence is deafening.
We get in our car and reach for the radio. We find ourselves alone at home and we turn up the stereo. If a lull in conversation flows over the room we clammer and stammer to fill the gap. Earbuds and headphones fill our Amazon wish lists and hang from countless necks waiting for the moment to immerse our world in mind-numbing noise.
Well, here are a few reasons:
We prefer entertainment over thinking.
Entertainment is easy. Thinking is hard.
Entertainment is fun. Thinking involves work.
Entertainment slakes our lust for leisure. Thinking reveals personal deficiencies that are painful.
We are busy entertaining ourselves to death. Digital entertainment is our go-to drug. But should the networks fail, or the power is cut in a storm, we can still go old-school. We’ll go to great lengths to entertain ourselves in the quest to avoid silence.
Silence leads to thinking, and our thoughts terrify us.
Because ignorance is bliss, and realism hurts.
Rather than own the solitude or embrace the quiet and come face-to-face with ourselves, we turn the volume up on life, sing louder, and live in ignorant bliss.
We’ve become masters of redirection. Like an illusionist in a cheap sideshow, we practice the dark arts of misdirection and trickery. This time, the target isn't some poor sucker who will lose his pocket money—we con ourselves.
How will we ever have the courage to echo the psalmist’s prayer in Psalm 139:23 when he says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” when were are terrified search our own soul?
To embrace solitude and quietness is to reflect on an image of our own self. For many, that’s an image they’re not ready to face.
We equate "stillness" with "passivity"
Despite the repeated call of God to simply be still and rest in his salvation, our fear of passivity keeps us fuelled for fitful activity. In the gospel, it is as if God once again instructs us, as he did his children beside the Red Sea.
Exodus 14:13-14 ESV—And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
God still calls us to rest. Rest in the complete and utter victory of God in Christ. Rest in the sin crushing work of the atoning death of the Son of God. Rest in the living hope of our secured inheritance. Rest from the striving of works driven righteousness, while embracing the rest of the sufficient righteousness of Jesus.
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.
Silent? Boy, are we in trouble!
One of the great symptoms of unbelief is an unwillingness to accept a gospel which says, “It is finished. I have accomplished, on your behalf, that which could not be accomplished on your own.”
I fear that many churches today are filled with modern day prophets of Baal who shout and sing, chant and dance, work and bleed, all in the quest to draw the attention of their inactive God.
We are all wired differently, and some of you are already a way down this path while others are not yet convinced.
Either way, I’d encourage you to pick one area of your life, turn the volume down, and simply start there.
Make it your aspiration to showcase the gospel in your quiet restfulness. Take Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonian church to heart:
1 Thessalonians 4:10-12 ESV— "…But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one."