Singing In Quietness

 No life is so sheltered but it has times of distress and difficulty and off-times of conflict and turmoil. But no life need be so full of these that there is no time for quietness. No one fights all the time. No one works all the time. For every soul there is a time for withdrawal from all the tensely active things of life, a time to rest in quietness.

  Life in this age is intense. People live so much in the public that many feel they have no time for quietness. Others are so disturbed in their minds, so constantly under a strain, they are so continually facing real or imaginary difficulties, that they have no rest of spirit. God does not want us to miss the quiet side of life. He wants us to be able to sing the songs of quietness that differ from all other songs. Before we can sing these songs we must become quiet and enter into a place of restfulness.

  Here is a promise: "Whoso harkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil" (Prov. 1: 23). Isaiah, the prophet of the coming gospel age, said of this age: "The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places" (Isa. 32:17-18). It is our privilege to have this blessed experience.

  The effect of righteousness is certain. It does not bring turmoil nor anxiety, but quietness and assurance. The first thing to make sure of therefore is that we are righteous. We may count ourselves unrighteous or we may count ourselves righteous. The important thing is —how does God count us ? If we have been saved by his grace, if we have been washed from our sins in the precious blood of his dear Son, if we have been born again, we are righteous. If we are living in obedience to God to the best of our understanding, if we are living lives of humility and trust, sincerely endeavoring to do his will, we are righteous.

  There is a difference between being righteous and being perfect. None of us will attain such a perfection in this world that we have no faults nor shortcomings to be overcome. But righteousness, first imparted by God in salvation, is preserved as long as we preserve an attitude of submission to him, with a sincere purpose in our hearts to obey him and the desire to please him as the ruling motives in our lives. But in order to have quietness and assurance in our lives from righteousness we must believe that we are righteous. We must not always be questioning ourselves, always looking for flaws in ourselves, putting ourselves on the rack of torture. We must be fair to ourselves. We must have faith in ourselves. Then we can dwell in a peaceable habitation and in a quiet resting place.

  Care, anxiety, fearfulness, are not from God. He has said, "I will give you rest." Many people do not become quiet long enough to rest. Sometimes people get where they feel they must be doing something all the time. Activity is proper, but in a certain state of the nerves when we are under a certain tension we cannot sit down and be quiet. We have a constant impulse toward activity. I have known people who had to be compelled to sit down and sit quietly for a considerable time until their nerves relaxed. They had entirely lost control of themselves so that without the restraining force of another will they were unable to be quiet or to relax.

  Sometimes we get into a similar condition spiritually. There is a continual inner urge, a something that cannot be satisfied. The Lord sometimes says to us, "Be still and know that I am God." We become agitated and bothered. We worry and fret. We suffer a thousand fears of present and future ills and troubles. We need to come to quietness before God and to see him as he is and to submit to his will without reserve. Straining and struggling come from rebellion. Submission is the cure for this. If your life is in a turmoil God's promise of rest is not being fulfilled in you. It is not God's fault. You are not giving him a chance. You may have that rest of soul by deliberately turning away from the thing that prevents your rest and diligently seeking the way that leads to quietness and peace.

  Perhaps you need to disengage yourself from various things in your life. Perhaps you are frequently engaged in useless and profitless activities. Perhaps you do not give any tune to the cultivation of quietness. Quietness is something that must be learned. We need to learn how to say effectively to our spirit, as Jesus said to the waters, "Peace be still." We need to learn how to relax our attention, to withdraw from our anxieties. We should learn to practice going into the secret closet, shutting the door, closing everything out but God. We read in the Scriptures of "the secret place of the Most High." A writer said, "The secret place of the Most High is ever still and if we dwell there our hearts will not be disturbed by any tumult without."

  There is a way into this secret place. The strange thing about that way is that each of us must find it for himself. Most of us who do not find it do not look for it intently enough. We seem too busy to do this. We should like to be in God's secret place but we assume that under our circumstances we cannot be there. There is a road and a short road from wherever we are into God's secret place, that secret place of quietness and rest where he would commune with us and where our hearts can grow tranquil. God wishes his people to be tranquil. Tranquility brings calmness and peace. Someone said, "Inward tranquility of spirit is calm, because fixed on God and filled with love." Sweethearts love to be alone. It is their enjoyment of each other when undisturbed that is sweetest. Our loving communion with God to satisfy God and to satisfy us must be alone with him in his secret place.

  The tempestuous surge of emotions must be quelled. The tumult of spirit must be brought to quietness. Only then may we enter into that tender fellowship and delightful association with the Lord that it is his will for all Christians to have. W. G. Murray crowds a great deal of truth into a few words when he says, "Inner serenity becomes outward strength." We sometimes wonder why some Christians are so sure of themselves, why there is such a sense of sufficiency to meet what may come. We wonder why they meet their circumstances with so little trepidation. In the midst of most severe tests they are serene and strong. The prophet said, "In quietness and in confidence is your strength." We should give heed to learning this lesson.

  We can cultivate a tranquil habit of mind. In Ezekiel's vision of the glory of God it is said of the living creatures, "When they stood, they let down their wings" (chap. 1:24). I once got a wonderful lesson from this saying. I stood upon a hill top looking down into a valley. As I watched a number of turkey buzzards alighted in the valley below me. Instead of folding their wings as birds usually do they stood with them outstretched, looking about as tho fearful of being attacked by something. They stood ready instantly to spring into the air. They made me think of many Christians who hold this attitude in their lives.

  We should learn to let down our wings. We should learn how to rest. There may be clouds, even threatening clouds upon the horizon of our lives. For the time being our sky may be entirely covered and their shadows darken the landscape as far as we can see. It takes only a small cloud to produce this effect. We may be tempted to think the whole earth is covered with shadow. We may let gloom sink into our souls. We should not do this. We should remember the truth expressed by Mrs. Browning, "The blue of heaven is larger than the clouds." Tell yourself this over and over when you are tempted to be discouraged and remember that God has a way for you so that your heart may be quiet and free from fear of evil.

  We have a place of refuge and that place of refuge is a quiet place, a place of safety and rest. A man was walking in the woods when he heard dogs baying. Presently a fawn appeared in sight. When it saw him it ran up to him and fell down at his feet and looked appealingly into his face. He fought off the dogs, took the fawn home, and raised it for a pet. If we should run to God in our troubles in life as confidently as that little fawn ran to the man, and appeal to God, he would beat off our enemies and take us into a place of safety, calmness, and rest. We should have the simple faith that Whittier expresses in the lines,

  "I know not where his islands lift Their fronded palms in air; I only know I cannot drift Beyond his love and care."

  So often people ask, "How shall I get through the things that are ahead of me? How shall I endure this?" The way to go through is to trust through. What do we do when we trust? What do you do when you trust the bank with your money? You just go about your business without worrying in the slightest degree as to the safety of your money. When you trust a friend you rely upon that friend. You do not question him. You believe in his loyalty to you. You take it for granted that everything will be all right between you. You do not expect anything unworthy of his friendship. You repose utmost confidence in him. It does not occur to you to question. You rest in full assurance in your friend or in your bank.

  Trust removes every tendency to be disturbed. That is just the result when you trust God in that simple way. You rely upon him. You take it for granted that things will be all right because you are God's and God is looking after you. Your interests are safe in his hands and therefore they must come out all right. Trusting him thus you enter into the rest of faith and from that rest of faith you sing the songs of quietness and of confident assurance.

  The songs we sing in quietness are not the songs of battle, not the songs of the army camp, not the songs of the march. They are the songs of holy fellowship, of divine comradeship. They are the songs of the satisfied soul. Let us therefore adopt that attitude of soul toward ourselves, toward God and toward life and all it may hold that will bring us into the quietness and rest and tranquility of the secret place of the Most High. Let us learn to sing the songs of quiet rejoicing, the songs of those who lie down beside the still waters.