In the Quiet

“Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” - St. Augustine.

What is it about a good cup of coffee, in the stillness of the dark, before creation dawns to the rising of the sun, that awakens the soul? Why does the company of quietness enable our hearts to finally slow down and open up to receive something that is always there? What is that something?

In Isaiah 30, God opens up the chapter with a lament to Israel, His “stubborn children,” for making an alliance with Egypt without seeking direction from God. The motivation of Israel was to seek refuge and protection from Pharaoh in light of the Assyrian empire moving against them. The external pressures surrounding Israel caused them to seek external protection — a façade of refuge. So quickly abandoning trust in the One who has and will provide what they were longing for. In spite of this, God calls out to them:

“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
 in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”” (v.15).

God’s invitation is to His “children” is to turn back to Him (repentance) and rest in who He is (Exodus 34:6-7).  In only what poetry can do, the next line provides depth to the first: “In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” The call is to return to God in the quiet, to rest in His presence and to reflect on why to trust Him. This will be our mighty valor and the rescue needed against the surrounding and external pressures caving in.  

God knows they are unwilling to come to Him. For He knows where their loyalties lie. However, he still calls and waits for them (v.18). Waits, with arms open, to give His grace and His mercy. To shower them with healing and blessing. To give justice. He remains faithful, even when they (we) are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13).

So, why this invitation to the silence? What is lying awake in the stillness? What is that something that is so life-giving in the quiet? It is our Father’s outstretched, strong and gentle arms waiting for us to come and be embraced by them. It is the whisper that Elijah heard on the mountain that you are not alone (see 1 Kings 19). It is what Alan Noble in his book, You Are Not Your Own, calls “holy stillness.” A resting in our belonging to Jesus and the gift of His grace that motivates us to participate in His renewal of all things. It is what Henri Nouwen calls the “gift of belovedness.” The gift of God’s love for us as being the gift we give to others. It is why Jesus escaped to the wilderness (the quiet) constantly and why the Spirit sent Him there before His ministry. This something is a learning to be still, a way to match our cadence with the Spirit (Galatians 5:26), to know Him and be known by Him. To remember that we are sons and daughters of the King. To remember what that means (see Romans 8).

External pressures will come. Our post-Eden reality bears truth to this fact daily. The media screams of fear, violence, injustice and anxiety. Our close relationships reveal the brokenness that remains allusive within us. Our vocation unveils the unending cycle of “when will it be enough.”  This confronts us as soon as our eyes open each morning. How do we combat this reality?

Return to the quiet and rest.

Here is to an alarm clock, a cup of coffee, an ancient Book giving wisdom about how God has been revealed as the Messiah from Nazareth and how God is here, near and with arms wide open.