The theme for the second week of Advent is Peace. It’s fitting that our Scripture memory verse for December is Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God…” I remember the time I’ve probably felt the greatest sense of peace, of stillness, of calm. My oldest son, twelve at the time, and I canoed the wilderness section of the Buffalo River in northern Arkansas. Over the course of four days we saw two other canoes and no other people beyond that. Cell phones don’t work there. No houses or buildings or roads of any kind come anywhere close to the river. It was so quiet that my ears were weirdly ringing and it took a day for them to adjust. All there was to do was paddle, relax, talk, and fish.
It was a shocking removal from the normal rhythms of life. And yet even there, one must be intentional to quiet the mind and connect with Christ. Even monks, the very people whose calling in life is to pray and meditate in silence with Christ, even they struggle with this! Thomas Merton was a famous monk from Kentucky, serving at the Gethsemani Abbey near New Haven. Even he at times struggled to focus on prayer and stillness. He said there were times he would have to “drop everything and hide in yourself to find Him in the silence where He is hidden with you, and listen to what He has to say.”
The hard part of hearing this is that if a monk has to fight for stillness, then what hope is there for the average Christian? Well, the encouraging part of this is that becoming a monk doesn’t make stillness automatic. The “professional” Christian doesn’t have an inherent advantage over the rest of us. You don’t have to become a monk to find stillness. We all must find ways to be still before God.
Peter Scazzero says this about finding our way: “Integrating silence and stillness utterly transforms the way we follow Jesus…
In silence we let go, surrendering our will to God’s will.
In silence we let go, allowing God to deeply transform us.
In silence we let go, opening ourselves to hear God speak.”
One of the messages of Christmas is that Jesus brings, “peace on earth, good will to men,” and my prayer is that you and your family would be able to experience peace this season by finding and fighting for moments of quiet and stillness. Try picking a night this week where you choose stillness. Turn off all devices. Sit with a Bible and a journal and just listen for God to direct you. If that sounds impossible, then set a timer for whatever you think you can endure. 15 minutes? If not that, then even five minutes of stillness can be powerful.
God often speaks to us through the small still voice. I’m praying that each of us would hear from Him this Christmas season and experience His peace to it’s fullest!
Last week we started into the “Festival Cycle” section of John, Chapters 5-10. This week will continue in chapter five as we also seek to serve the community on our White Christmas Sunday. Read ahead if you like, John 5:19-30. Looking forward to worshiping with you!