In his book, “Man’s Search For Meaning,” Nazi Death Camp survivor Viktor Frankl addressed the need for seclusion and the search for privacy by prisoners in the Nazi camps. “It is well known that an enforced community life, in which attention is paid to everything one does all the time, may result in an irresistible urge to get away, at least for a short while. The prisoner craved to be alone with himself and his thoughts…I had the rare fortune to find solitude for about five minutes at a time. Behind the earthen hut where I worked and in which were crowded about fifty delirious patients, there was a quiet spot in a corner of the double fence of barbed wire surrounding the camp.” As it would turn out, the “quiet spot” was beside a tent that had been improvised to shelter the corpses of dead prisoners. In those few moments, he would stare through the meshes of barbed wire and simply dream. Frankl went on to write, “The corpses near me, crawling with lice, did not bother me. Only the steps of passing guards could rouse me from my dreams…”
In Isaiah 30, with the looming threat of invasion by the king of Assyria, God promised the Jews deliverance if they returned to Him and added in verse 15, “…in quietness…shall be your strength….” Sadly, they rejected the counsel of God and chose restlessness over quietness. Have you noticed how difficult it is in our fast-paced, schedule-driven world to find a quiet place? We are told that a coal-fired power plant can be heard as far as fifteen miles away. A chainsaw cuts the quiet for more than five miles. Even the hum of power lines can be heard upward of two miles. The secret of cultivating quietness in our spiritual lives is becoming a lost art. Our generation of Christians are being drained and weakened by an abundance of noise. In the quietness of the prison, Joseph was strengthened with favor. In the quietness of his abandonment by friends, Paul said, “…the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me…” It is difficult, if not impossible, to walk deeply intimate with the Lord when our lives are filled with crowds, clamor, and clutter. Like the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, it is in quietness that we are struck with a renewed sense of awe and wonder that equips our lives for tasks that are bigger than us. Have you learned the secret strength discovered in quietness?
In quietness we find the necessity of solitude. In 1 Timothy 2:2, Paul encouraged Timothy to “…lead a quiet and peaceable life…” The idea behind the word “quiet” is “to find tranquility in a solitary place.” Paul lived by his own counsel when in Acts 20:13, after sending his companions by ship across the sea, Paul felt the necessity “to go afoot” and walk alone. Such moments are necessary in life for the cultivation of our soul and the examination of our heart. Paul knew that an unexamined life is a life that can never be fully trusted. Living in a society of social butterflies, the world considers a man to be odd and mysterious who walks alone. However, it is worth noting that the spiritual giants and geniuses of generations past were those who learned the difference between seclusion and solitude. In the solitude of the desert, Moses was shown a burning bush. In the solitude of Bethel and Jabbok, Jacob was given visions of God. In the solitude of the temple, Isaiah’s lips were touched by a live coal from the altar. Evangelist of a century ago, J. Wilber Chapman once said, “I know of no way to recover that which we have lost other than to cultivate the practice of being more frequently alone with Him.” Jesus said to His disciples in Mark 6:31, “…Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while.” If we do not come apart with the Savior, we will come apart at the seams!
In quietness we find the nurturing of silence. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11, Paul writes yet another strong challenge, “…study to be quiet…” The word “study” means “to make it your ambition and aim.” Not until a man gets quiet is he really ready to listen. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah came to such a place on Mount Horeb. It was there in the depths of discouragement, he heard “…a still small voice.” The Hebrew root word for “still” implies “a complete and utter silence.” Amidst the silence, Elijah gained a fresh perspective of life and was given a fresh purpose in life. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why is the Lord so quiet?” The Lord performs His deepest work in silence. Trees, flowers, and grass all grow in silence. The stars, the moon, and the sun all move in silence. As Jesus listened to the accusations raised against Him, He stood before the High Priest, Pilate, and Herod, and “…yet He opened not His mouth.“ In the silence, Jesus was fulfilling the master plan of man’s redemption! Missionary Jim Elliot once wrote in his journal, “Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.” To be drawn into the Lord’s quietness is a gentle reassurance that He is not through with us yet!
In quietness we find the nobility of steadfastness. In 1 Peter 3:4, Peter counsels women who are married to unfaithful men that it is possible to win them over if they put on “…the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit…” The word “quiet” here means “keeping one’s seat.” The idea is someone whose life is firm, settled, immovable, and steadfast. The Lord never promised that this journey of life would be filled with ease and simplicity. However, the secret to enduring the storms is to securely fasten down all that is valuable to us in the quiet calm before the storm arrives. Before David heard the arrogance of Goliath on the battlefield, he heard the authority of God in the quietness of the sheep fields. Before Daniel met the growl of lions in their den, he met the grace of God in the solitude of the rooftop. Before Paul witnessed his storm of persecution, he worshiped the Lord in the quietness of an Arabian desert. Job said it best in Job 34:29, “When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?…” A man who is not convinced of God in the quietness before the storm is a man who will cowardly quit on God amidst the storm.
Before the children of Israel compassed the city of Jericho, Joshua commanded them, “…neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout…” Victory would be dependent on quietness. However, our frail humanity seems to be drawn to the noise that produces defeat, discouragement, and disobedience. But even then, like Jonah, the Lord surrounds our lives with the empty darkness and the quiet stench of a fish’s belly just to remind us what a wonderful gift this thing called life really is!
Your Most Proud Pastor,
© 2009 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.