Calm and Quiet My Soul

I’ve been stuck in the Psalms this summer. I think it’s because David specifically is so relatable. He is vulnerable, honest, and intimate with the Lord. He doesn’t hide his desperation nor himself. But he also doesn’t hide the truth. He hopes and he trusts— no matter how much he is suffering. David talks about his tears being his food. He talks about  being deep in the pit. He cries out in utter despair. But, with that, David always hopes. There is almost always a shift when David writes— a shift from disparity to hopefulness. I think I’ve been clinging to the Psalms because I want to experience that shift, I want to be praying for that shift, and I want to be singing with David about that shift. Hope should be written into the end of all our cries, but honestly, I often leave it out.

I leave out hope when I a restless or when I am too busy to notice that I even left it out. Busy used to be a word I strived for and now it’s a word that leaves me sitting in conviction. A busy life is the “attractive” life in our culture around us. We are constantly going . If you know me, I love to go, go, go— leaving no empty space on my calendar… empty space leaves me anxious. That’s a problem. I’ve grown enslaved to my busyness and  that involves believing a lot of lies.

If I am busy than I won’t have time for my struggles . 

If I am busy than  I have purpose.

If I am busy than I am serving God. 

If I am busy than I am useful. 

No. If I am busy than I am just distracted and running from my problems. I am running all day long without even recognizing my ankle is sprained and I need to rest and heal. If I am busy I forget my purpose and I forget who I am serving. Generally, when I grow busy it is because I am trying to control and take on the world by myself. I am serving myself and seeking purpose in things of this world. And if I am busy, I grow less useful because I run dry. I run myself into exhaustion to where my presence grows useless.

My busyness has led me to take the gifts God has given me and abuse them and that breaks my heart that I’ve done that. But even as I recognize these things, I am struggling with the temptation of being busy. During the year I can get away with using school as my excuse for why I am so busy because “everyone is”. Summer is different though. For the first time in a 10 years I have a summer just at home. My traveling is kept to a minimum and my time is more open than normal. My instinct with my time was to use every second of it. I even bought two different calendars so I could keep track of everything I was doing with each day… leaving very little empty space…. again. This week it hit me. I am restless yet the Lord has given me the opportunity to have a  summer of rest. I didn’t get summer staff, I didn’t end up being a camp counselor, and I didn’t get the internship I had hoped to but what I did get was a chance to learn to rest. So far, I have missed a lot of that chance. This is not to say that I haven’t loved my summer so far, because I have. It has been so unexpectedly sweet— Jesus has a  tendency to do that. But, I think I would be enjoying it all the more if I was taking more time to rest. If I was taking more time to calm and quiet my soul.

This is where I am coming back to the Psalms— I’ve been reading Psalm 120- 140 these past few weeks. Psalm 120-130 were ones I connected heavily with and found great encouragement in. They say; “Deliver Me”, “My Help Comes from the Lord”, “Let us Go to the House of the Lord”, “Our Eyes Look to the Lord Our God”, “Our Help is in the Name of the Lord”, “The Lord Surrounds His People”, “Restore Our Fortress, O Lord”, “Unless the Lord Builds the House”, “Blessed is Everyone who Fears the Lord”, “They Have Afflicted Me from my Youth”, “My Soul Waits for the Lord”. Deliver me has been a prayer of mine being said like a broken record. Then, in the song of Ascent’s plead for deliverance the writer reminds himself that our help comes from the Lord— we must go to Him, we must fear Him, we just look up to Him, we must wait for Him. These Psalms remind me of His goodness and of His provision all the while encourages me to seek Him deeper in that. I connect to the people in Psalm 130 who are waiting for the Lord and crying out to the Lord out of their depths asking for his ears to be attentive to them. I am waiting for the Lord to heal a friend from this accident and to also bring healing to everyone else affected. I get that crying out but I also get the hope they are seeking. And then I get to Psalm 131. Pal 131 stopped me in my flow of reading. It reads;

“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Isreal, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.”

In all the 10 Psalms before this one you see and feel the distress of David’s heart. You read his cries and you also recognize his seeking and his hoping. Here, in Psalm 131, we see the result of his seeking and his hoping and that result his rest. A calmed and quieted soul. A soul that finds rest just as a baby does within the arms of it’s mother. That’s rest I have not experienced in a very long time. This Psalm I cannot connect to David with because I can’t say the things he has said. I cannot sit here and write that I do not occur myself with things too great and too marvelous for me because I am so guilty of being entangled with desires for things of this world. I have not calmed and quieted my soul— in fact, I’ve been too loud to even hear His whisper to be still.

Ironically enough, in God’s humor, my devotion for today is titled “Time to Be Still”. Funny right? The whole devotion itself is convicting as it talks about how we try to cram fifty hours of activity into twenty-four-hour days. I’ll be the first to raise my hand of being guilty of this. But that wasn’t the most convicting thing it said… the last line got me thinking the most as it reads;

The Paradoxical truth is that you’re too busy not to take time for God.

That is something I can connect to. This school year I ran myself into the ground of exhaustion with my busyness to where all I could do was spend time with God as I cried on my floor. But, I don’t want the only time I spend with the Lord to be the times when I desperately need Him to meet me in my exhaustion. I want to be met in the resting too. But in order for that to happen I need to first start resting. We all do. Rest is healthy. Rest is healing. Rest is restoring—it’s in the name. I so often ask for His restoration in my life without doing the resting.

I recently has a friend write me a letter that advised me to take Sabbath seriously. Before I read that I can tell you that I didn’t take Sabbath as a thing for me at all. I thought of that word as one only applicable to the people thousands of years ago and boy was I wrong. We need Sabbath. Jesus needed Sabbath. Time and time again you can find in the Bible Jesus going off to a desolate place to rest, to be still, and to be alone with the Father. Then why don’t we?

Just as Jesus calmed the storm, He can calm the storms that rest inside our souls and minds… we just have to do our part in that too. We need to stop romanticizing busyness and start taking Sabbath seriously. My prayer for myself and my prayer for you all this summer is that in the midst of any disparity we feel that we can still cling to hope and we cans till find Him calming and quieting our souls. He is able my friends, so able.

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