On one of my many pilgrimages from my apartment to the library, I came across this sight:
This branch was dead. The first word that came to my mind was “withered.” I think it reflected my current feelings of my spiritual life. I felt like I was withering.
In the past, when I felt like I was withering, it was usually because of noise. People around me are always searching for some sort of external stimulation: television, music, talking, eating—whatever they can find to fill space-time around them. They have lost the art of silence—the blank canvas of life. That’s another discussion. My point is that in the past, I found myself spiritually parched because of excess noise. This time it was different. This time I had not enough noise. This time I had grown complacent.
I felt the usual uncertain, unguided longing in my heart and suddenly realized that I hadn’t spent much time lately with Jesus and I sorely missed Him. I was shocked at first because I had been surrounded with so much silence and then I realized that in the face of pure silence, I too had sought other things to clutter the canvas of life.
Odd: when I am surrounded with other people’s clutter, I make room for empty space. When I am surrounded by empty space, I splat whatever cheap paints I can find onto my canvas. The freedom of silence is what we were made to live in, but we do that so poorly that one begins to wonder if true freedom can ever be achieved. Thus begins my next challenge over summer: I make room for God in the midst of other people’s clutter quite well; now, can I make space for Jesus in the midst of my own clutter?
I would venture to say that most people in America have lost a proper concept of holiness because everything in life has become the same. There is nothing set apart, but we constantly seek out gratification of some sort. We are surrounded by music and talking and all sorts of things that in the end are tantamount to pure noise. None of these things may be individually bad—it’s just that we have not given place for the absence of them. We’ve become dependent on noise.
Something I’ve discovered is that when I carve out space for silence and quiet, many things in my life that were causing me stress and confusion melt away in stunning clarity and I’m left with a deep sense of reverence in my spirit. Quietness offers us rest from everything else in the day and instills a sense of holiness, a quality of being set apart. In the midst of my busiest schedule, quietness beckons to me like a cup of cold water in a scorching desert. Quietness puts the trivial concerns of my day in a more beneficial perspective: that though they are intense, they will soon be gone and I will long outlive the concerns of today. This perspective produces in me holiness because I begin to make choices based on the long term and not the short term, and as a result the short term becomes subdued to the long term. This leads me to a flourishing, abundant life because I’m not living for short-term profit but for long-term gain and for those around me to prosper as well as myself. You see, holiness teaches me that I will get to wherever I’m going in time, and I don’t need to rush to get there. It encourages me to seek to meet others needs because I realize that my immediate concerns are very rarely needs, but desires. Desires are not bad, but they are better fulfilled in a long-term pursuit rather than a short-term gain/consume/discard cycle. Besides, isn’t my greatest need to be in relationship with others anyway?
Seek out a quiet place, a holy place. You’ll find the peace of God resting on your soul like never before.
Today, God broke through all of the noise in my life. I really needed to hear from Him today and He led me and guided me to the right place and the right circumstance so that He could just shower His love on me. I’m really in awe of Him. I really love Him. Here’s a new poem for you that I pray encourages you to hold fast to God’s promises.
Now, I feel a gentle breeze,
Subtle, first, but no less real,
Now it comes, oh satisfying
Peace of mind! Don’t leave me.
Now, I feel a rushing wind,
Holy Spirit, come upon me
To the full and overflow!
Overflow me with hope.
Now, I feel a slight concern,
Feelings fresh now slowly fading,
With this promise, though, they leave:
“I am with you always.”
Now, of this promise I am sure,
And though my eyes of sight obscure
The promise that my faith assures,
My hope will endure.