Anxiety, stress, depression and anger are major problems today. They are at the root of many physical illnesses and relational conflicts. One major cause of these mood disorders in our culture is “noise addiction.” We are a plugged-in generation that requires constant background noise in our daily life. For many it is too hard to be alone with just the sounds of silence.
Be still and know
Most people are not willing to live without their modern technology. However, it is worthwhile to unplug from the noise of technology and run silent for a while. This can be a very helpful discipline to establish for better emotional health. God advises us in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” God is a realist who understands modern times. He knows how to do life in any time period or culture. The life principles given to us in the Bible never grow out of date. Living in harmony with them, God promises us the best quality of life now (John 10:10) as well as being prepared for eternity.
People will buy all kinds of books that promise “the secret” to success in Life. The true secret to life is simple. King Solomon wrote a book about it (Ecclesiastes) and spent his life searching for it. The secret he discovered is — know God. Not know about God but know Him in a real and experiential way.
In order to know God one must take the time to be still before Him. This means unplug from life’s normal routines and background noise. Find a quiet place and time to shut yourself up alone with only God. It is the same principle as a married couple getting alone with each other that they may know one another. Just as Adam “knew his wife Eve” (Genesis 4.1 KJV), it is about an intimate relationship with God.
Sounds of silence
Why is the silence necessary to accomplish this? Because the God who desires this intimate relationship with you usually speaks in His still small voice — His Spirit to your spirit. An example of this is seen in the life of Elijah. God met him in his fear and depression in a cave in Mount Horeb (1Kings 19). God manifested His power to Elijah in a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire that rattled the mountain. But when it came to speaking to and meeting with Elijah, God came to him in a still, small voice — a sound of gentle blowing. Elijah had become overwhelmed in the daily responsibilities and obstacles of his life and ministry. When Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him, it pushed Elijah over the edge. He became suicidal even asking God to kill him (1Kings 19.4). What Elijah learned alone in the cave with God in the silence was God is the reset button of his life. He puts things in their true perspective. Elijah learned he was not alone; God was still with him and had a purpose for his life. After being still before God, Elijah came out of his depression, reengaged with God, life and his mission.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” You can’t examine your life among all the noise and clutter of our age. If you don’t think you have noise addiction, see how long you can go unplugged from television, the computer, cell phone, iPad, etc. Being still with God is about how often more than how long. Establish a consistent habit of stillness.
The phrase “be still” also means to cease from striving. God is not interested in what we do for Him but rather who we are before Him. He desires that we know Him in a real way. It is like a wife telling her husband, “I don’t want your money; I want you.” The doing comes from the overflow of your intimate relationship with God.
Finding the time and place to be still before God will change your life in many ways for the better. Here are just three major changes you can expect to see. You will no longer be a reactive person. You stop reacting emotionally to the circumstances of life, which change constantly. Like Israel in the wilderness who constantly complained to Moses and God, you will quietly wait to see what God will do rather than panic or complain. Secondly, you will no longer be self-willed. You will cease to be the proud, un-teachable, angry and impatient person who lives by his own agenda like King Saul did (1Samuel 15.16). Lastly, you will cease being a fearful person. As humans we are a fearful race. Things we don’t know, understand, or differ from we fear. This is why so often in the Bible God says, “Don’t fear.” God can change you from a fearful Gideon (Judges 6) into a mighty, courageous warrior.
What have you been trying to change about yourself only to grow discouraged and defeated by your failure? You may have discovered that just trying harder doesn’t work. Unplug, get still before God, cease from your own efforts and listen for the still small voice of God. He is more than able to reset your life.
Dr. John Hawkins, along with his son, John Jr., runs Gateway Counseling Center in Boynton Beach. He can be reached by visiting gatewaycounseling.com.