Stillness. Quiet. Solitude.
Sometimes when I invite solitude into my day, or it forces itself on me, I think about my grandmothers, Lucy Jones and Emma Martin. Both were mothers to 13 children. Believe it or not, I remember a quietness and a sense of stillness about both of them.
I was raised in Flint, Michigan around that large family. Grandma’s House on both sides of my family was a rendezvous station of sorts. My granddads were good men but for my dozens of first cousins, my brothers, and I the question was always framed the same way: “Can we go over Grandma’s?”
This pandemic draws me back to those years. Everything then, compared to how we lived before this COVID-19 pandemic, was still(er) and quiet(er). There was more solitude and opportunity to think deeply and hear more clearly over long, long periods of time. I think this was clear to us even as children.
Some truth about me and some truth about my God, truly seems to require not a limited or specific amount of quiet time, but rather quietness over days, weeks and months.
I have been thinking that for some of us church folks, this could possibly be more than just a physical pandemic – in fact much more – a holy call to stillness. “If my people, who are called by my name humble themselves…” Isn’t it reasonable to characterize some part of ‘humble’ as quiet in His presence; as few words as possible; waiting with stillness?
- Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Psalm 62:1
- The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. Habakkuk 2:20
- Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10
When I was in my twenties, attending a church retreat, my pastor, Anthony Dorsey, shot an arrow of words that shaped my next decade: “God is more interested in what you are becoming than in what you are doing.” I have learned that much of “becoming” is shaped in solitude and stillness.
During this time of quarantine and social distancing, a key result of this lesson is the commitment to resist being a hero and to work at being a servant. I think about David and his years in shepherding as a young man, or the lengthy time leading a band of soldiers and outcasts all before he was elevated to Kingdom Leader. How shaped, how prepared for his role was he by allowing God to get to him for long periods of solitude, quietness, and stillness as a shepherd and a leader of men? His Psalms are a fountain of refreshment from the heart of a young man who practiced far more than a restricted time of visiting with Jehovah.
With the guidance from solitude, David practiced shepherding sheep before shepherding people and he practiced leading men before leading a nation. While we are in the midst of this pandemic, ask yourself, “Am I eager to look forward to a harvest, or to plan moves of a new killer strategy?” Or will the lasting impact of this pandemic, with no clear expiration date, be better found in wrestling with being still…and knowing in a personal, precious, and profound way that He is God.
A song for going up to worship. Of David.
Lord, my heart is not proud;
I don’t look down on others. I don’t do great things,
and I can’t do miracles. But I am calm and quiet,
like a baby with its mother.
I am at peace, like a baby with its mother.
People of Israel, put your hope in the Lord
now and forever.