Maybe you are like me. My mind seems to never be still. I lie awake at night struggling to sleep because I can’t still my mind Or I wake up at 5 to spend time with my God, and yet I can’t still my mind down enough to be able to still my soul, creating a sense of….of….Inadequacy, or even failure. Or something like that.
I’m currently reading Jesus Through MIddle Eastern eyes. I’ve sampled some of the chapters when I have done specific scripture work addressed in this book, but I’ve never read the whole thing through. I’m finding it to be very thought-provoking. I do not agree with all of the author’s (Kenneth E. Bailey) interpretations, but I’m gaining invaluable background of Middle Eastern culture that permeates the gospels. It’s one thing to read the gospel’s through a western mentality, it’s quite another to read them with even the small amount of Middle Eastern cultural understanding that I am gaining from reading this book.
But that is the background for what I want to write about tonight: Cultivating Stillness. This is a subject that is selfishly important to me, because I struggle with it so. In my reading on the The Lord’s Pray in Bailey’s book, I was struck by this quote of Isaac Syrian:
“In the seventh century, Isaac Syrian wrote about “stillness”, which in his writings has been summarized as “a deliberate denial of the gift of words for the sake of achieving inner silence, in the midst of which a person can hear the presence of God. It is standing, unceasingly, silent, and prayerfully before God.”
Oh, to be able to achieve that level of silence in my soul, where I could hear the presence of God. Note that Syrian does not say “sense” or “feel” the presence of God, but “hear” the presence of God. What a gift! What would that sound like? Would it sound like peace? Would it sound like shhh? Would it sound like Joy?
And note how we are to be before God: standing, unceasingly, silent and prayerfully. Standing—standing fast. 1 Thess 3:8. Unceasingly—-continually, patiently. Silent–without words, with stillness of mind and soul. Prayerfully—anticipatory, relationship, waiting.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 puts it this way: “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you upon the earth; therefore let your words be few.”
My words are often not “few”. Often they are “many”. Pages and pages and pages of my thoughts on scripture, my thoughts on God, my prayers to God. The volume that I write is tremendous. But my words are so inadequate for my God, and often are a way to run from Him, not to Him. I read a tweet this week by someone-I don’t remember who-that stated that we can stuff our heads full of facts and knowledge about God, yet completely miss a relationship with our Abba, Father. I know that to be truth.
I imagine I will always struggle with stillness of my mind and soul. For many reasons. But I hope to work at cultivating stillness before my God in the mornings because I want these words to be truth for me:
“Before the Day” by Newsong
Last night when I was sleeping
You were watching over me
While I dreamt about tomorrow
You knew my every need
Now another day is waiting
For me to make it through
And there’s no way that I could face it without You
Before the day slips away
I want to stop and say I love You I love You
Before the world rushes in again
I want to stop and say there’s none above You
There’s none above You
I’ll just be still and know You are God
Be still and know You are God
There’s something about the morning
The stillness of it all
It calms my heart to hear You
When You gently call
Here I am in Your presence
Where I long to be
Alone with You in the silence
Bring down Your love and Your mercy
Whisper softly to me