Five Degrees of Quiet

Five Degrees of Quiet

At times it may seem hard to bring a quiet and calm to our soul. It is not so much finding calm as it is how deep the calm. Here I describe five depths or degrees of quiet and listening.

The first degree of quite is being in a constant state of stillness. This kind of quiet is like a quiet pool of water interrupted at times by pebbles or rocks thrown into the water or by branches falling into the water. These ripples sent across that quiet interrupts it to some degree. These disturbances come from living in a world alienated from God and from that in ourselves which strains against the reign of Christ.

The second degree of quiet means pulling away from this. This is harder and requires greater movement to become part of a more undistrubable quiet. The first quiet can exist even in a crowd. This second degree of quiet is discovered alone.

The third degree of quiet grows from the second. In the second degree there is something inside that longs to go back to the place of activity where ripples often come upon our pond. There is a longing for the world around us with all its activity and distraction. But in the second degree of quiet if we persist long enough or deeply enough we find ourselves transported to another place. This third degree of quiet is one where we no longer wish to leave. We sing of this “In the Garden”;

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

The fourth degree of quiet is found at that place between the two words; the seen and the unseen. It is the place between life and the life to come. Mostly people only come to this place one time. Sometimes they venture there in a coma or in those hours or days as their body is beginning to lose any ability to return to the place where ripples come. The quiet is deeper here for from it there is no return. This is not a place of quiet from which there is retreat. This is the deepening place of quiet which I have often observed in those dying from illness and lingering nearer and nearer the time of departure to the final, the fifth degree of quiet. Here the presence of even those nearest and dearest to us fades and the presence of those inhabiting eternity, that vast cloud of witnesses who have traveled this road before grows ever clearer.

Listening to the Spirit

Matthew 14:19

Feeding the 5,000 comes, arises out of listening to the heart. Everything, everything comes from the Spirit. It is not what we DO but who we ARE in Christ. All must flow from this.

The normal way the church seems to do business now is our doing the work as human effort. There is virtually NO listening to the Spirit, to the Heart. What can we do to be intentional about listening to the Spirit?

I find that while in principle Christians applaud ‘inspiration’ not only resistance to the Spirit but even making fun, ridiculing the notion of listening to or following the Spirit.

When evening came, vs. 16, the disciples recommended sending the crowd away but Jesus said, no you and I lets meet this need.

Now from our perspective this is poor planning but what can we learn from this? All this happened as a response to the heart, this burden to turn aside to be alone with God the amazing things that happened followed listening to the heart and following the heart.

So it seems to me that what we learn from this is the need to follow the heart. Listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us in our heart and respond to this. The real ministry takes place as a result of this. Listen to the Spirit in our heart and follow Him.

The way this need is met are His followers listening to Him, giving Him what He directs them to give Him? Then He takes that and makes of it what it needs to be and it is more than enough to meet the needs of the people.

What a powerful lesson I can learn from this that when I feel overwhelmed by the needs of the people if I will go to Him in conversation and give Him the little I have, He has a way of making it more than is necessary to meet the needs of the people.

What then is it that I should give Him? He asks me what I have. What do I have that I need to place in His hands?
The nature of the bread and fish was that it was really what was brought for personal needs. So could this mean that the necessary means of providing for the people arises out of my own provision for my own needs? That is, my own study, prayer, life with God which I bring to Him, He uses and He makes it what it needs to be for the needs of the people.

Drug Resistant Diseases and Hardness of Heart

Drug Resistant Diseases and Hardness of Heart

When I go to the hospital, that place built for healing, I am always particularly careful to wash my hands and use those hand cleaning wall dispensers that are everywhere. I do this because we know that some of the most lethal and drug resistant diseases can be caught in the hospital. This happens because they have been “almost cured” but because they were not completely killed they have developed resistance to the drugs meant to kill them.

Over the years I have observed in the church that in many cases those least likely to respond to the “Good News”, or least likely to respond to a new way of thinking or acting or understanding of Scripture are those who have been a member of the church the greatest number of years.

The correlation here is this. If we are in the church and are hearing God’s Truth through pastors, teachers, endless devotionals and Sunday School lessons but we do not respond to those teachings by surrendering our will or by allowing the Spirit of God to search our heart, try us and prove us or as Psalm 139:23-24 puts it, “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything ab out me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong – then guide me on the road to eternal life” (The Message) the same thing happens to us.

We can be exposed to enough Truth from God to bring us to a place of conviction about what we must do or stop doing. But if we resist that ‘nudge’ by the Spirit within us, we become a little more ‘Truth resistant”. Little by little, year by year our hearts can get to the place where we are no longer able to be convicted by the Spirit of God.

Then what can happen is that when some young and teachable person comes alongside those whose hearts have become hardened, those subtle ways of resisting God’s movement in our hearts may be learned, even without realizing it. After a few years, we become immersed in the ‘culture’ of such a church, becoming ever more resistant.

These churches, like the hospital is meant for physical healing, are meant to be a place where we find forgiveness, healing for our damaged emotions, a vibrant relationship with God and others. But those very places meant for healing may be transformed to a place where someone is least likely to know God or be reconciled with others. This is perhaps the greatest of all tragedies.

But this does not need to be the case. I read today in Mark’s gospel where Jesus cast out those well meaning, misguided busybodies and raised a little girl from death! Today, in many of our places built for spiritual healing, no less miracle is needed!