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Character Matters
August 2011
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Character Trait – Serenity:
Check It Out. – What Does It Matter? – How Does it Count?
by Lori Coeman
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Afraid of the Silence?
If silence is golden, why is it that we rush to fill it with background noise, random thoughts, idle small talk, or “zone out” activities? We have become so accustomed to our clatter-filled, clutter-filled lives that we don’t know what to do with silence. We’re uncomfortable with it.

A moment of silence observed in a public place finds people restless almost immediately. Go longer than a minute or two in group prayer with no one speaking and heads bob up to see if we’re finally finished.

In our church-wide Bible study last year, one of the activities was to sit silently for five minutes to practice quieting ourselves before the Lord in order to hear His whispers. A mere five minutes in a 24-hour day of 1,440 minutes. It was a harder challenge than most of us realized it would be. We’re awkward with silence. Yet this is what the Lord commands in Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Stillness itself is not the answer. Despite what Eckhart Tolle says, stillness will not save and transform the world. Only Jesus Christ saves. The key is the conjunction and. We quiet ourselves not to empty our minds and leave a dangerous vacuum, but to fill it with the reality of God. His peace, His faithfulness, His wisdom, His justice, His mercy.

The word translated as know describes an on-going, ever-deepening level of intimacy. It’s the same word used to describe the sexual relationship between a husband and wife. Strong inter-connectedness. A commitment to spend time alone with that Special Person.

Amy Carmichael, the powerful missionary to India, wrote: “Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you will know what His will is.”

Clearness of spirit. What a marvelous phrase that I suspect all of us would love to experience. It’s a serenity that comes only from submitting to God, laying aside the busy-ness of our lives, spiritually sitting at His feet, waiting quietly on Him.

Serene literally means clear and calm. It means undimmed, tranquil, and undisturbed. Surprisingly, it also means exalted, honorable, expansive, and high-ranking. Perhaps because the only way we can have that sense of clear vision is to see as God sees. And the only way to do that is to spend quality time with Him. That is why serenity is considered part of the fear of the Lord.

The command found in verse ten is inserted toward the end of a song extolling how God is our fortress, our help in times of trouble. It signals a momentary shift from the Psalmist’s declarations about God’s faithfulness to our Lord’s response: “Want this sense of peace and security? Then silence yourself and experience Me.” It takes both stillness AND knowing.
490 words
Image Credit: © Lev Dolgatsjov - Fotolia.com

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