Acquiring A Quiet Soul (Part 3 of 3)


My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore. Psalm 131

HOW COUNTERINTUITIVE that the best pilgrims are those most childlike! But the kingdom we serve is an upside down one, that is from the vantage point of an incorrigibly upside down world.

In Part 1 we talked about the importance of humility and staying out of God’s chair. He’s the only One big enough to fill his throne. Remember that and you’re half way to a Quiet Soul. Then in Part 2 we introduced the similarity between the calm soul and the weaned child who simply chooses his mother for herself and not for what she provides for him. The childlike pilgrim is satisfied with simply being near his/her God. He doesn’t clamor for food on demand. Whether or not she gets her way in her time she is content to commune with her God.

“Contentment,” someone said, “is understanding that if I’m not satisfied with what I have, I will never be satisfied with what I want.”

Please note that the faithful pilgrim has a part to play in the weaning process: “I have stilled and quieted my soul.” When it begins to whimper, we have to shush our soul.

It’s called self-talk. David does it throughout the Psalms:

“Bless the Lord, Oh my soul… Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God… Awake, my soul… Yes, my soul, find rest in God… Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits… Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you…”

In this prayer poem he says in effect:

“Soul, no matter what you’re feeling at the moment, God still loves me… He hasn’t abandoned me… Like a good mother with her young child, he may be letting go in a way in order to help me mature in some ways. So just calm yourself…”

Notice also that a weaned child is very much still “with its mother.” She hasn’t discarded her baby. In fact, he may be right in her arms, happy as can be.

Similarly, if he’s weaning us from a previous method of dispensing nourishment God is just trying to help us grow up. For his own reasons, he remains just as nearby, but in a different way than we’re accustomed to. Mature childlike pilgrims (oxymoronic as it sounds) aren’t addicted to God’s former ways. They’re always willing––to change the metaphor––to drink new wine from new wineskins.

Like the weaned child who wants his mother, not as his own personal milk machine, but for her, the mature and quiet soul sidles up to the heart of the Father just to be near him.

“I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.” (The Message Bible)

The apostle, called “Beloved,” rested on the chest of Jesus not so he would get first dibs on the food. He simply liked being close.

When did you last rest your head on Jesus’ chest not because you wanted something, but just because? Can he hold you, without you wondering what he is up to––what gift he wants to impart? How we’ve forgotten, or never knew to begin with, that he’s the gift. He is our portion.

In conclusion, is your soul inside you noisy and demanding? Admit to him and to yourself that there are many matters too great and things too wonderful for you to concern yourself with. Quiet your whiny soul and put it to rest in the Father’s strong arms.

The Other End of the Dark: A Memoir About Divorce, Cancer, and Things God Does Anyway tells my own journey toward a calmer, quieter soul. If you know “someone” with a noisy soul, consider getting it for them. The profits from the book go to Freedom House.

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