Oops, I may have just started another book. Or three. What can I say – I lack discipline in some areas! (Phil, I promise I am also reading the book I’m reviewing for you! In fact, there are some more blog posts to flow out of that soon, as well as the review that is coming.)
But you have to hear this from Brennan Manning in The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus (and, oh, how I wish I had got to that title first!):
…it takes time for me to be still, to come to that place of inner quiet. Stillness is more than silence and it is beyond solitude. Interior stillness is too deep for words. Unhampered by self-consciousness, our attention is focused entirely on God and His love.
Oh, how I long for this. A life characterised by stillness and a depth of peace which I and those around me can sense. A life which flows from hours wasted at his feet. A life which is responsive to his voice.
And, instead, the mirror shows me a blur of unceasing movement. A life that is frazzled, only just on top of all the deadlines, hitting the reply button as if on speed and yet still drowning in e-mails. An unthinking slavery to the calendar’s godlike dictation of almost every waking hour sometimes even months in advance. A commitment to completing the obligations and favours for others which are assumed so easily in the moment yet which quietly eat away at my freedom just to be.
You almost certainly live like this too, friend. A life which has no pause button. A life which is in thrall to the cries of faster, harder, more efficiently. A life which is not much of a life in the end. Consumed and in slavery.
But you know that you were not born for this. It is not the life he promised you. Unless abundance just meant abundance of trouble and weariness! You long to rest, to walk in right paths, to lay down in green pastures beside quiet waters. You long for the restoration of soul that he promised so long ago.
So come with me as I go. Come with me and let’s look together for that place where neither of us really goes anymore. Let’s go to that place of stillness. Let’s go there through a practice of silence, enter in through a rhythm of solitude.
Because ‘stillness is more than silence and it is beyond solitude’, it is true, but they are also the only route I know to that place. Habits of withdrawal from the world, from Facebook and Twitter, from the phone calls, the texts, the e-mails. Patterns of escaping the tyranny of the over-scheduled life and the diary reminders. These are the only habits I know which set me on the path towards stillness.
So often present to others yet absent from God, yet I must begin to choose absence from others in order to be present to God. To make myself at home in his love, as Eugene Peterson paints it in John 15. To abide, as the older translations would have it.
This I long for. What about you?