On Being Quiet
by TE John "Arch" Van Devender
I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.
PSALM 119:15–16 (NKJV)
There was not much to recommend that old blind sitting out there, about a quarter mile from where I stood on the dock at Tighlman point. But its sheer loneliness had its attractions to my mind. Apart from the bird droppings which probably made it quite inhospitable, it seemed a perfect place for meditation. Clean it up a bit... bring out a cooler and a folding chair... put up an umbrella... turn off the cell phone ... and let the calm lapping of the tide, the semi-salt air and the breeze have their effect.
Being "quiet" does not mean being without sound. "Quiet" is a condition of the soul that is, in my opinion, as necessary to vitality of our spirit as meat and drink are to our flesh.
We so gladly sacrifice so much of our humanity when we fill our every minute with endless chatter of no consequence, foolish diversions which add nothing to our character and other recreations, some of which could be deadly in the long run. I am no monk and, in their place, I enjoy foolish diversions as much as anyone, but I tire of them quickly...
I don't think we can truly progress in our spiritual life, or sanctification, apart from this aspect. God, as David mentions in the Psalms, has given us His Word to meditate upon. It just doesn't come alive to us when we come to it the same way we stare at our TV sets. God's Word is to be understood as a conversation... a personal conversation between Him and His covenant children... one in which He asserts claims, provocative statements, historical enactments with spiritual significance, commands and promises, and much more besides. All of these are His part of the conversation. Our part is to respond to them... they must elicit a reply... and our reply is our words and actions in return. But what words and what actions should be forthcoming? There is where meditation is essential.
How can we "delight" in God's word when we are only superficially acquainted with them? How many passages have we mindlessly memorized and can quote with ease and yet we have seldom give ourselves over to the task of actually thinking about them, exploring them, noticing the nuances and shades of meaning which are present? Where have we deprived ourselves of the deeper pleasures that God has set before us to enjoy?
Quiet, blessed quiet, is the room in which such a conversation can transpire... and there is something precious and holy about it.
In this New Year, perhaps at least one of our resolutions is to "be quiet!" Perhaps it is within quiet's sphere that we will "know that He is God."