There are two words I have never heard anyone use to describe me: silent and still.
My kids might tell you I cry out for silence and stillness all day, every day. But silence and stillness are disciplines that I have to be very intentional about practicing, myself.
Recently my husband and I faced a rather large decision and it needed to be made quickly.
Usually I am quite capable and confident in my decision-making skills. I am a voracious researcher, lover of analysis, processor extraordinaire. I am the type of person to read every review, pore over manuals, investigate, and make an informed decision. I can even do this very quickly when the situation calls for it.
But this time … this time I was stuck.
I didn’t know where to begin processing. I was overwhelmed with the weight of the decision and how it would affect our family. I was unacquainted with this version of myself and unnerved by my own hesitancy. Not knowing which way was the right way, or even what I wanted to do, I was lost.
Paralyzed by uncertainty, my confidence faltered.
What’s more … what’s worse … I had some sense of which direction God was leading me. And I didn’t like it. Didn’t want to face it. Didn’t want His opinion if it differed from mine, thank you very much. I was like a cat being dunked into a bucket of cold water, clawing the sides in resistance.
In prayer, I clearly heard God tell me to be silent and still. To not analyze, not research. But to dwell in the uncertainty, trust Him and let Him show me the way.
This was FOREIGN territory for me. I grumbled to God that I would try my best, but respectfully reminded Him we were on a deadline, here. And I didn’t have forty years.
I fully believe God gives us the ability to reason and freedom to exercise free will in our decisions. But there was no doubt He wanted me to shelve my methods – all of them – and completely, whole heartedly surrender this decision making process to Him.
So I obeyed and relinquished control with the same intensity I typically engage.
I did nothing. No research. No pros and cons. I didn’t process with friends. (I did ask for prayer.) I just rested my mind from anything having to do with the decision and entered into a period of waiting.
And God, He was so gentle with me. So kind. He took my hand and ever so slowly led me through this decision. In bite-sized pieces, one factor at a time, he revealed my objections and showed me the way. Every fear, every question, every hesitation … he answered for me. Completely, without any room for doubt.
This was so different from the way I rabidly attacked problems. Consuming them all at once. And when the deadline arrived, the decision was crystal clear.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and he will make your path straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
I have known this verse by heart forever. And I believe it, especially in the macro of my life. But when given the opportunity to practice trust, often I don’t. Instead I find myself applying, 2: Timothy 1:7 which in the King James is, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
God did engage my sound mind as He revealed each facet in the decision. But it was in His timing, not mine. And during this time of quiet, I realized that if I’d rushed in, ran the analysis, processed with friends and researched this to death, then I really wasn’t trusting him at all with this decision. I was merely leaning on my own understanding.
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength; but you would have none of it. Isaiah 30:15
I think as a culture we tend to fall more into the category of, “you would have none of it” as it relates to rest, quietness, and trust. (And certainly repentance, but that is a whole different topic.) We value strength and confidence but rarely pair those qualities with rest, quietness and trust. Rather, we admire those who push, strive, and conquer.
But look closely at the meaning of each word in this statement:
In quietness and trust is your strength.
quietness: to keep silent, remain quiet, remain calm, at peace
trust: in the Hebrew this is translated as confidence
strength: power, might, achievement
So the message is: In quiet, calm, and peace you will find confidence and power. Not in self-reliance … no matter how capable you are.
God’s word is always true. And when I practiced silence and trust, pressing solely into God, a deeper, stronger sense of certainty arose in my spirit. In quietness I found confidence and strength. And God not only led me, He affirmed the decision over and over. I have incredible peace and trust in His plan. And unending gratitude for God patiently showing me – yet again – that His way is always best.