“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you” (1 Thessalonians 4:11).
Long before the age of jet airplanes, the Internet, or digital television, theologian Arthur Pink wrote the following: “what man despises, God esteems; and what man admires, He abominates. The world is mad, and speed is one of the ‘gods’ which is now worshipped by the multitudes. And living as we yet are in the world; God’s own people are infected with its evil spirit. Much need has each of us to beg the Lord to lay His cooling and calming hand upon the feverish ‘flesh’ in us. Rush, hurry, and hustle are the terms which best describe modern activities; but ‘stand’, ‘sit’, and ‘wait’ are words that have a prominent place in the Scriptures.”
Arthur Pink wrote those words in 1930! Now, the problem is even greater. Busyness has become a curse of our day. Carried over into the realm of the spiritual, we associate activity with spirituality. Thus, we program more Bible studies, more activities, sometimes more church services, more conferences, and more things into an already overcrowded schedule.
Do you ever ask yourself, “What would Jesus do if He were here?” Would He jam more and more into His schedule, or would He walk away from the frenetic activity of life today and find a quiet place for solitude? Would He leave His computer to listen to the wind as it blows through the trees, or ponder the awesome, sometimes ferocious sound of silence?
Listening to the symphony of nature’s music has a way of quieting the soul, of helping you think straight, of helping you sift through the dissonance of life today. There is something therapeutic about listening to the roaring clap of the surf pounding the seashore, or, as I have done on occasion, sitting quietly in a forest and listening to the sound of the wind in the trees, the noise and creaks of the forest—voices which are generally unknown to us. If you ever have the opportunity, sit quietly on a mountain top at timberline where there is insufficient oxygen for much to grow and sit quietly and silently. You will discover that there is neither absolute silence nor quiet. It’s a different sound that you hear – the kind of sound that is never heard in the city.
Isaiah told us that “in quietness and trust is your strength” but then he added, “but you would have none of it” (Isaiah 30:15). If he were alive today, he would say the same thing. Question: Whose fault is it, anyway, that life is so busy? Obviously, it is our own doing. Therefore, the undoing of our busyness is also our obligation and should be one of the first orders of business.
When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he told them to study to be quiet (1 Thessalonians 4:11, KJV)—something which was commanded. The word “quiet” means “to cease from labor, to hold your peace, to be still.” “Ah, yes,” you may say, “Isn’t there something in Psalms about that?” As a matter of fact, there is. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
There are some things we will never know; we will never learn apart from the quiet place where we have escaped the din and pollution of noise. I’m not suggesting that you walk away from your family or business or obligations to become a hermit somewhere, but I am saying if you are to survive spiritually, emotionally, and physically, if you are to live so that stress and hypertension don’t kill you, you’ve got to learn to find quiet time for rest and recuperation. There is strength in the quiet place.
Resource reading: Psalm 90:1-17