.”Let me … Find refuge under the shelter of your wings.” Psalm 61:4
There is spiritual power in stillness and peace of mind, through which you can find, and then express, the joy of the Lord.
In the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, there is a familiar passage that begins with the words “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” The writer goes on to enumerate a number of things saying that there is a time for this and a time for that. In verse seven of chapter 3, it says, “… a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”
I guess this moment now – is my time to “speak”.
Whenever we are going to present something, it is always well if we have something to
relate. Sometimes, we cannot outdo silence. Very often in life we are so conditioned to keep the noise going. We get so outer-oriented and so busy that we forget to take time for quiet; take time apart, as Jesus did in His ministry. This is depicted in several places in the Gospel – where Jesus needs to draw away from the crowds, and take a time apart.
This is not a new idea, but are we really practicing it in our lives? In other words, maybe, sometimes, we are talking too much when we need to be silent, and just spiritually listen for the voice of God.
This reminds me of the story of the tourist who came to a country town.
That evening, he went down to the General Store and found a number of men who were gathered around, sitting there in silence. This particular gentleman happened to be a person who liked to talk a lot, so he kept trying to strike up a conversation. Nobody would reply. These good old boys were just sitting around the General Store in silence. Nobody said a word. Finally, the tourist said, “Well, really, is there a law against speaking in this town?”
One of the men spoke up and said, “No, there’s no law against speaking, but we sort of have a general understanding around here that unless one is sure he can improve upon the silence, he does not speak out.”
The idea of improving upon silence is important if we are considering we have something to say. We must first become silent and let our mind become active. And along that line of thinking…. Another story that tells us that if we do speak out, we had better know what we have to say and what we’re going to say, and that it is of importance at least to us and possibly, to other people.
There was a gentleman who was buying a horse. The seller of the horse told the man, “This was a very religious horse. There are a couple of key words this horse will tune in to. Any time you want the horse to stop, just say the word ‘Amen,’ because that’s what he stops on. Then, when you want the horse to go forward, say ‘Praise the Lord.’ You got it?”
The buyer said, “Yes, I understand that, and I’m willing to go with it.” So he bought the horse, remembering that it was a very religious horse.
One day, he took the horse out for a ride. While they were galloping along in this field, the horse began galloping a little too fast. The gentleman forgot the key word to stop the horse (which was ‘Amen’). He was hollering out just about every word you could imagine, but the horse just kept galloping. The gentleman looked up and noticed he was heading toward a steep cliff. The horse kept on going, and the gentleman began to panic. All of a sudden he remembered the key word that would stop the horse, and he cried out “Amen!” The horse stopped right on the edge of the cliff. The man looks down and sees the big drop, looks up to heaven and says, “Praise the Lord.”
This story keys into one thing, in particular. That is, if we have something to say, we hope it is the right thing to say, and that it will be helpful to ourselves and to other people.
The idea of silence is a very important idea because it brings with it peace of mind. And peace of mind is the one thing we all strive to achieve. Of all the blessings you will receive in prayer, there is one that stands out among all the others, and that is peace of mind. I don’t think we can accomplish very much in life without peace of mind.
We don’t have to look very far around the world to see that there are plenty of places in the world that are still in need of peace. But if we are going to have peace out there, we must first establish peace within ourselves.
One of the greatest ways to learn to establish peace within ourselves is to practice the silence, to give ourselves those opportunities to have times of real quiet, prayer, and meditation, and to be in the silence where there is just ourselves and God. These periods of silence will lead to a greater degree of peace of mind, without which nothing of lasting value has ever been accomplished.
The Bible brings this idea out in many different ways. One particular section in the Bible is full of a lot of racket and noise, and that is the book of Revelation. The sixth chapter (please read to get the full effect) in the book of Revelation is where the seven seals are broken and opened. When the first six seals are opened, there are all kinds of noises that take place; things that the writer describes as the upset of the universe that he says must happen before God will reveal God’s self to you, and wipe out all the evil, and establish the kingdom of God.
Remember, that does not literally have to happen. What can happen is that we can establish peace, right here and now, as we let God have God’s perfect way in and through us. There is always a hard way to learn spirituality and an easy way.
In the first four chapters, the four horsemen appear. Then, when the fifth is broken, you have a picture of the martyrs who are slain. They are under the altar crying out, “Oh, Lord, how long before you will avenge us.” It is a very different concept of God than we often have. It depicts a vengeful God who is going to carry out retribution upon his people. This is the JUST my, as the writer’s, point of view of this passage.
Then, when the sixth seal is broken, there are all kinds of cosmic disorders. There are earthquakes and upsets all over the place.
Finally, in the next chapter, there is a nice interlude, a time of quiet. Then, in chapter eight, the first verse, the seventh and final seal is broken.
Do you know what it says then? There is NO more noise and no more racket. It just says simply that there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Can you feel that? Then the noise starts again, according to the writer.
What a relief that must have been. What a relief it is, also, in our lives when we can stop the racket and the noise of the world from intruding on our consciousness and peace of mind, TO KNOW that because God is with us, we always have a direct access to inner peace, that we can turn to God. We can take comfort in that silence of spiritual thought.
Probably one of the greatest stories is in the New Testament – the idea of the stilling of the storm. Jesus was out on the waters on the Sea of Galilee with His disciples, and a storm comes up. Jesus is asleep in the boat. A little lesson here is to remember that God never sleeps. We may sleep, but God, with us NOW, never sleeps. Anyway, the way it is shown in the scripture is that Jesus is asleep in the boat and the disciples wake Him. They ask Him something like, “Don’t you care about us?” All Jesus does is speak the word, “Peace, be still, peace, be still,” and the waters are calmed.
You and I have power to still the storms in our lives. How? By simply speaking the word of peace in prayer, we can take command of our consciousness, and of our lives. We are in charge of our world. We have this power through God. All power is found in the silence. The Bible says that we have been given dominion. In that power, we find whatever it is we need to accomplish in life, and we find the power to do it.
It is really in the quiet that things are accomplished. We know there is great power in the silence and the peace of mind that it brings. It was the same idea the poets address, in that you, could hear the silence. The sound of the silence can be almost deafening. But what a beautiful sound it is, because you feel the spiritual power it also brings.
Think of Psalm 23 which says, “The Lord is my shepherd . . . He leads me besides still waters; he restores my soul.”
So, whatever it takes to enter into a moment of silence, let’s do that.
Let’s create a practice in the silence which provides certain steps to entering the time of silence which leads to that blessed peace of mind. This then becomes the foundation from which we can go forth and accomplish things in life.
Most of you here,reading this today, are probably working at a job in the world. That is wonderful. But there is a lot of worldly racket out there. Very often you come to church, to our Bethel, to services or prayer group to experience a time of quiet and hopefully, to gain some insight into practical, helpful daily living, and what everybody really wants – to still the racket of the world, once again. It always serves that purpose, and gives a peace beyond (human) understanding.
This practice in the silence is a little technique to help us become quiet and to attain that peace of mind, from which we can then go forth and really do wonderful things in life.
1) The first step is relaxation.
Take command of your mind and body; speak the words Jesus spoke to the storm, “Peace, be still.” It doesn’t take very long to find that your mind and body will respond to that, and there will be a sense of peace.
Once you have achieved that state of relaxation, then comes—
2) The concentration.
You begin to concentrate on a certain idea, a Divine idea. You don’t worry about something or stew about some problem you have, but maybe just concentrate on the words “solution” or “answer;” whatever it might be, without effort or strain. Concentrate on a particular idea. You will know what that idea is because it will be revealed to you, through you, at exactly the right moment and in the right way. After the concentration comes—
3) A time of meditation.
We just let the free flow of thought take place; we are one with the presence and power of God.
The answer comes; an idea is born in our consciousness which is the solution we have been seeking.
I have found that sometimes the realization, or the answer, just doesn’t come right at that moment. It may be after I’ve left that time of silence and gone on about my life; but at the right time and in the right way, there is the answer. It comes exactly at the right time and in the right way.
The fifth step in this whole process of the practice in the silence—
5) Simply an act of gratitude or thanksgiving.
We give thanks to God for the process which we’ve just entered and participated in, and for the answer we know is forthcoming, (if it has not already come at the time of silence). Thanksgiving is not just a wonderful way to end any activity, but to begin the activity as well. So maybe before we begin the practice in the silence, we should begin with a note of thanksgiving, because you know, in God, the answer is already there. All we have to do is let it unfold in our lives at the right time and in the right way.
Sometimes, people get the idea that when we enter a time of quiet or stillness that it is a “cop-out” from the world; that we are trying to avoid responsibility.
We can become still and quiet BEFORE we do anything. The moment of stillness is not really idleness but a real period of intensified focused activity. There is always time in the creative process for you and me to become still, and that is the time when God takes over and brings an increase in our future efforts, in both Divine inspiration and strength.
The first chapter of Genesis is the creation story. Author Emmett Fox says that the six days of creation, before the Sabbath, are not the days that God works, spiritually, but are the days we work, when we put forth our effort and do our part. Then, we always come to the Sabbath, which is a time of rest for ourselves. It is the time when we have to let go and let God. (an interesting hypothesis)
In everything we do, we come to that point where we have completed our efforts, and we have to let go and let God. Then we rest. The seventh day is our Sabbath. It is the day God goes to work and brings to completion all of our efforts.
Let’s focus on these steps and the glory of our Lord as He joins us in quiet meditation and brings His will and His love directly to us.
Words aren’t perfect but sentiment is good.