“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3 NIV)
I’ll never forget that drive. I set out in the morning for a seven-hour trip to a team meeting on location for a summer mission camp. About 20-30 minutes in, the CD player/radio stopped working. I’m not hugely mechanical (understatement), so this was very much beyond my ability to fix. I was stuck with nothing. No sound. For six and a half hours. It was pretty rough. Until it wasn’t.
The prophet Elijah, on the heels of a successful showdown with the prophets of the false god Baal (1 Kings 18:16-39), found his life threatened by the evil Queen Jezebel. He was now on the run. The Spirit of God led him to a mountain cave to gain renewal in the presence of God. Only thing was, he had to perceive God’s presence in order to experience renewal. Plenty of noisy natural events passed, but God was found in the silence and stillness (1 Kings 19:1-13).
At some point, I was finally broken of a need for noise. Now, I enjoy listening to music and podcasts. I often do so throughout my day while driving. But since that particular drive twelve years ago, I haven’t had a need for constant sound. I’m just as likely to drive around in silence. It was hard to have that craving broken, but I receive it as a gift–something good that God did for me. I’m convinced that being broken of the need for noise has been key to my growth in prayer. After all, prayer typically seems to require some degree of comfort with silence.
If quiet is hard for you, perhaps God will find a way to break you of a need for noise. You don’t have to become a monk on a week-long silent retreat to get more comfortable with quiet. Far from it. But it is helpful to follow God our shepherd when “he leads [you] beside quiet waters,” whatever that looks like for you. It may just be the best route to a refreshed soul.
Prayer: God, loosen my grip on sound and lessen my need for noise. Lead me “beside quiet waters” so that I may encounter you today. Amen.