The difference between silence and stillness.

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

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 Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 131 ESV

If you want to walk more closely with Jesus, and if you want to be found more in the image of Jesus, then sooner or later you will need to make time to be in silence and stillness.

For many of us the first forays into silence can be terrifying. The noise and clamor of the world normally drowns out the anxious voices that cry from within. The routine and demand of daily life assures us that we are needed and valued, and silence can bestow a kind of nakedness of vulnerability, where voices within us cry out unmuted by the noisy world.

When I am silent I hear the cries from within myself “I desire.” “I want.” “I need.” “I worry.” “What next?” “Where to?” “How can I?”

Uncomfortable it may be, but necessary none-the-less. In a sense I am coming to suspect that these insistent voices must be first heard before they can be silenced and I can be still before God.

We know that God commands us to “Be still and know that I am God.” But do we know how that process of stilling occurs so that we can be obedient to his call?

The Psalm above describes a child of God in a place of stillness and contentment before God. He has “calmed and quieted his soul.” Here is a process that we need from time in order that we might be still. It’s a process of seeking God’s help to silence the internal nagging voices.

Does something within me cry out “I worry” then I must confess this to God and seek his help that it’s nagging tone might be replaced with the gentler note of “I trust.”

Does something within me cry out “I want!” then I must seek divine help that it in turn is replaced with “I am content”

The danger is of course that these noisy internal voices will, if allowed to remain un-silenced dominate any time of silence and the “still small voice” will be drowned out and unheard.

As I said silence can be uncomfortable, forcing us to confront who we are and what we are, but the reward of stillness is precious indeed. “Like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me” The reward of Christ focused stillness is nothing less than loving communion with God.


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