When I think of the words “in the still of the night”, it generally brings back memories of middle school slow dances at arms length to the Boyz II Men song of that title. What does a song by a 90’s R&B band have to do with God? Well, perhaps not much, but that quiet time before I sleep each night is generally when I hear God’s message for me. After reading chapter five, The Exploders, in Lysa TerKeurst’s book Unglued, and seeing the section on Finding the Quiet, I discovered this is no accident. That time of day is when I have finally let go of all the worries of the day and just listen.
God shows Elijah his voice in the quiet in 1 Kings where Elijah flees to escape death and the Lord instructs him to go the mountain before the Lord. In Chapter 19, verses 11b-12 the Bible says:
And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
God had instructed Elijah to go away from the chaos and spoke to him in a still quiet voice. This is not to say this is the only way to hear God, but it is definitely something we should listen for. Get away from the chaos that threatens to engulf you and get past all of the loud, severe parts of our life to listen for the quiet prodding of the Lord.
I have to admit that rather frequently lately, I felt much like Lysa’s statement in chapter 5. She writes, “Sometimes a girl can get worn out, wonder if she’s ever going to stop exploding, and feel like giving up.” (p. 76) Here is where the connection comes between Elijah’s story and my own. Lysa goes on to say, “But before I give up, I’ve learned to hush up” (p. 76). Yep, you heard that right. She didn’t say talk until something happens, complain until you feel better, or throw a fit. Instead, the instructions are to be quiet. Boy is that tough sometimes. Letting go of all of the confusion, chaos and noise of life can be very difficult, but necessary if we wish to make progress.
In 1 Peter 5:8, we are told why we need to work towards controlling our reactions. The verse says:
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Sin is one product of our unglued reactions. Lysa reminds us in chapter 5 that our battle is not with each other, but with evil. So, how does being quiet help us to be self-controlled and alert? Lysa TerKeurst gives us five things we discover in the quite that helps us avoid being devoured by sin. (p. 77-78)
1. In the quiet, we feel safe enough to humble ourselves.
I can remember many circumstances when I have finally remembered to talk to God about a situation, mostly to complain about all of the horrible things this person has done, only for him to gently show me my fault in the situation and maybe even how I misinterpreted someone’s actions. As much as I hate to admit this, my husband is usually the one who gets my grumpiness. When I stop to allow the quiet, God usually shows me how much my husband does for my family and how his intention was to help, not hurt. More often than not, I process away the hurt, but if it needs to be addressed, I now can go to him with rational thoughts instead of accusations.
This leads us to #2, In the quiet, God lifts us up to a more rational place.
When I react out of pure emotion, there is very little rationality present. This is why I desperately try to find quiet when my children are coming unglued. Their irrational responses that lead to tantrums or just pure disobedience often leave me looking around wondering what happened. It is difficult to react calmly and in control in the midst of it and I admit I am far from perfect in this area. However, as Lysa states on p. 72, “I don’t want to freely hand over my power to someone not in a position to handle it.” I want God’s power to work through me so that my children can learn self-control and discipline through my actions, not by screaming at them through gritted teeth.
3. In the quiet, anxiety gives way to progress.
As someone who suffers from anxiety, this definitely spoke to me. God wants me to do better, but he does not expect me to do it alone. Because He cares for me, I am instructed to cast my cares on him. What a relief! What a responsibility. I need to remember that part of casting my cares on him is trusting he will show me truth. How do I progress as a mother, wife, daughter, friend, etc? I cannot give you specifics, but I know it involves a lot of time spent in communication with my Lord.
4. In the quiet, we acknowledge that our real enemy isn’t the other person.
This perspective allows us to show love to the other person. We can acknowledge the wrong in a situation without attacking the person. The devil has influence over both parties. It is difficult to acknowledge that in a hurtful situation, but we need to react with self-control and be alert to sin lurking as the verse from 1 Peter tells us above. Without quiet reflection, too often we simply react to our emotions without gaining a godly perspective.
Finally, #5: In the quiet, I can rest assured God will use this conflict for good–no matter how it turns out.
This is one of those situations where we should listen to our own advice to our children. I often tell my oldest son, “don’t worry about your brother, you have enough to worry about with yourself.” We cannot control the actions of others, but we can control how we act toward others. No matter the outcome of a situation, God requires that we act in a way that represents Him well. This may mean more of our conflicts lead to stronger relationships. It may not. One things is certain, God is working good in me, preparing me for eternal life with Him.
What have you discovered in the quiet? Even if you do not identify yourself as an exploder, what benefits come from quieting yourself before the Lord? I would love if you shared them with me in the comments section. May God bless us as we embark on this journey of imperfect progress!