A friend of mine – another writer – was visiting in my home. I told her one evening that when she got up the next morning I would most likely be sitting at my desk in my home office, typing away at some work which needed to be turned in. Of course she said that wasn’t a problem. She had some reading she wanted to do anyway.
Sure enough, the following morning when she appeared at my office door, coffee cup in hand, hair tussled and eyes bleary, I was at my desk, typing away. From my computer came the sounds of my fingertips flitting along the keyboard and some music from the speakers.
“How do you work with music playing?” she asked.
I shrugged. “I dunno. I find I work better with it than without.”
She shook her head. “Not me. I find I need absolute quiet.”
Let me ask you a question; do you turn on the television first thing when you walk into the house? Or the radio? What about in the car? If not the radio, do you find you have to jabber away on your cell phone while driving down the highway? Does the quiet drive you bonkers?
What then about the highway of life? Does noise consume your day … now that you think about it? Coincidentally, until I mentioned it, did you really think about it at all? Have you ever really stopped to listen to all the noise around you?
I can think of only two times when I found myself surrounded by absolute silence. Once was in Israel. I was standing inside the Basilica of the Transfiguration on top of Mount Tabor and I was completely alone. Inside the hallowed limestone walls, I heard nothing from outside. Unless I took a step, I heard nothing inside. I stood near the altar in the crypt, awed by the stained glass depiction of Jesus flanked by Moses and Elijah. Then, the whisper of a sound caused me to turn. One of the double doors at the front of the church had been left ajar. Light exploded from between them. For a moment, magnificence and silence merged together, nearly bringing me to my knees.
The second time was while walking in the Jeremiah Smith National Forest. Ambling along, going deeper and deeper between giant redwoods, I realized that when I stood still, there was absolutely no sound. Not a rustle of leaves. Not a chirp from the birds or the chatter of squirrels. No cars whizzing by. No planes overhead. Total silence. “This is your sanctuary,” I said to God, realizing just where I was.
Quiet My Soul Remember
In the contemporary hymn, Lead Me to the Cross, singers quickly come to a line which goes, “Quiet my soul remember …”
It’s the second line of the song. Only the second. The first is this: Savior I come …
Recently, while listening to glory-filled music on my computer (and while tapping away on the keyboard), I heard this song. My fingers stopped in their labor and my heart tuned in. When the song was done, I looked up the lyrics online and was caught, not by the way the tune forces us to sing the song, but by the words themselves. What if, I thought, we sang it thusly: Savior, I come quiet …?
In other words, in order for my soul to remember (as the words continue) “redemptions hill,” I must first “come quiet.” I must first tune out all that life is throwing at me. The television. The music. The kids at play. The phone. The neighbor cutting his lawn way too early in the morning so he can beat the heat. And, most importantly, all the voices in my head whispering “to do” lists … among a notebook full of other things.
My dear friend Robert Benson once said to me, “Eva Marie, the only person who knows what God has whispered into your heart is you. But you won’t hear him if you don’t hush.” Those words literally changed the way I approach God. And allow him to approach me, quite frankly. Too often he has called … but I have not been able to hear.
In other words, “Shhhh.”
And Once the Quiet Settles In …
Once the quiet settles in, we hear and understand the rest of the song. Redemptions hill … noting what took place there, what the Christ – God’s only Son – sacrificed for us, we then take a look at what we hold on to. What we think of as “priceless.” What we might, even, put before our time with him.
I’m guilty, too.
The words we sing within this song remind me that as Jesus was stretched out – naked, bleeding, broken beyond recognition – on Calvary’s Cross, I must fall on my knees and rid myself of all I think important, of all I have convinced myself I cannot let go of.
…of that part of me I think is so wonderful but is, in his sight, draped in filthy rags. Then, as his blood pours over my kneeling form, the Father no longer sees anything but the beauty he placed in me at the time of my birth. The perfection – the completion – he designed me for.
And this is where his heart beats most powerfully… in perfect communion and communication with his child. His children. Those he sacrificed his Beloved for, allowing him to take on our filth and us to take on his glory.
But if we are to fully understand this, we must be drawn to it. To be drawn to it, we must hear the call.
To hear the call … we must quiet our souls.
How to Find the Quiet
So then how do we accomplish this? I have found – for myself – that in order to quiet my soul, I must first quiet the life around me. I typically go into my bedroom, close the door, and meditate on God or one of his attributes. It takes effort, at times, to tune out the noise from outside the walls of my home but it can be done. (Suzanna Wesley – mother to Charles and John – used to throw her apron over her head, signaling the children to leave her alone for a time. My mother, I remember, used to hide in the bathroom.)
Like many people, I find the quiet can be frightening. If we listen in the quiet for God to speak to us, we sometimes become afraid of what he may have to say. We fear those moments of revelation (which may be one reason why we keep the noise going).
Years ago I learned that if I could be quiet for just one minute … just one … I would be drawn to it. Desiring it, I’d stretch that one minute to two …to three… and so on. Soon, quiet time with God became the most important moments of my day.
One minute, you may be thinking, isn’t that long.
I was speaking at a women’s retreat a few years back when I asked the ladies to sit in complete silence for one minute. Just sit and listen as God’s heart spoke to theirs. About fifteen seconds into the sixty, I spied the worship director reach over to her sound equipment. With the flip of a button, soft music filtered throughout the room. It was lovely … but it wasn’t silence.
My Challenge to You
I challenge you now. Spend one quiet minute with God today. Try not to talk; try only to listen. Tomorrow, do the same. And the next day, and the next, and so on. Soon you will find yourself drawn to him.
Quiet, your soul will remember … and you will be awed by what you hear within the remembrances.
Eva Marie Everson is the coauthor of the award-winning Reflections of God’s Holy Land and the recently released Things Left Unspoken. For more information about Eva Marie or to book her to speak at your next event, go to: www.EvaMarieEverson.com
Main article photo copyright Eva Marie Everson, Basilica of the Transfiguration, Mount Tabor Israel
Original publication date: August 5, 2009