Shhh . . . Can you hear that? If you travel to my home in snowy Erie, Pennsylvania, then you won’t have to listen long before you hear . . . a two-month-old lab puppy howling, a toddler banging on his drum set (that we got him for Christmas), someone curled up on the couch simultaneously watching a show on his new laptop and a movie on the Disney channel, a little girl singing her favorite song (again), water in the kitchen running and dishes banging around, a tween asking me “what’s for dinner,” the smoke detector going off (I left another potholder on a hot burner), my husband just walking in the door to tell me about his day, and a crazy woman barking out orders (oh, that’s me!). Okay, so it’s not like that all the time, sometimes it’s worse! Let’s just say, if you are in need of noise, I’ve got it by the bucketful!
It seems rather ironic, then, that God has put this one word on my heart for the year ahead: q-u-i-e-t. Quiet? What does that sound like? In the midst of all the racket, I keep being drawn to these two verses (with emphasis added):
“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be strength.’ But you were unwilling.”
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you with his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
If you know me, have heard me speak or have read my writings in the past, then you know I suffer from the “Martha-Complex.” But just to refresh your memory, it comes from the story at the end of Luke 10. Martha is feverishly working in the kitchen while her sister, Mary, sits at Jesus’ feet. That fateful day, Martha got caught up in all the serving and lost her focus and her cool. She had to be reminded, by the Messiah no less, that she was missing the best part (the Who she was serving).
So, I understand God’s gentle reprimand in Isaiah 30. I need to learn to say no, quit the rush and stop making up expectations that don’t exist. If I don’t slow down, how can I expect to hear the quiet?
My Key Word Study Bible tells me that the word “quietness” refers to being still, which makes me think of one of my favorite, albeit difficult for me to do, verses: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). “The primary meaning of this verb is the state or condition of tranquility. It signifies . . . a sense of safety and security . . . and an inner confidence or peace.”* Ah, peace. It is that calm, confidence—the quiet that abides within and amidst the chaos around me. And it is only a prayer away. “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
Isaiah 30:15 I get. More Trust + More God = More Quiet and More Peace. It is that verse from Zephaniah. I’m not sure what to do with it.
Right now, I’m sitting at the kitchen table, trying to gather my thoughts . . . and contemplating hiding. (I might run away if it weren’t so cold.) I desperately long for that quiet place, to know what it feels like to be “quieted by His love.” At the same time, I look around the room and think, These years will go by too fast. I’m going to miss the noise. Lord, help me cherish the moments. Don’t let me blink and miss it.
But my heart yearns for that coveted QT. I love those verses in the New Testament where Jesus got alone to spend time with His Father. Verses like Mark 1:35: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” I especially like Matthew 14:23: “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” Jesus had just finished feeding over five thousand men, women and children. He was grieving the loss of His cousin and friend John the Baptist. This was His second attempt to “get away” alone. I’d say private prayer time was in order (and well deserved). I’m wondering . . . after a particularly stressful day, can I “dismiss the crowds” and get away until late in the evening? I would love to make weekly escapes to the beach (my personal prayer closet), but I sense that is not what God is telling me here.
Zephaniah 3:17 “describe[s] the blessings of God’s presence . . . to his chosen people. . . . [This] promise provide[s] comfort for the believer as well. In a world of turmoil [or noise] . . . God reveals his presence.” Maybe the quiet I’m looking for is not the absence of noise, any more than peace is the absence of problems. Maybe God wants to reveal His presence in the “midst.”
With four kids ages eleven to two, a new puppy, and a growing ministry, the road ahead of me is full of maybe’s. Only God can see clearly the things that are so foggy to me now. One thing that I don’t have to question—2015 is sure to be a year full of sound—some more melodious than others. On any given day, if you are passing by my house, you are bound to hear a cacophony of children chattering, a dog squealing and music blaring. In the middle of all the bluster, I need to be reminded of God’s presence and to know that He is there in the midst. In returning my attention and fervor to Him, I will find peace. And as an added bonus, may He give many quiet moments alone with Him.
“The Lord your God is in your midst . . . he will quiet you by his love.”
*Study notes and scripture text for this devotion come from the following:
Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible. English Standard Version. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2013.