Sunday, March 27, 2011

Be Still

The other day as I was running, it struck me how easy it is to focus on taking care of my body—eating properly, exercising, getting rest, etc.—but completely neglect the care of my immaterial self—my soul, my spirit, my heart. To be quite honest, I don't think I know how to take care of my immaterial self. Our class exercise on silence and meditation left me realizing how rarely I take time to stop and ponder, examine my heart, and just sit in silence. In The Great Omission (2006), Dallas Willard argues this very point:

“Solitude and silence are the most radical of the disciplines for the spiritual life because they most directly attack the sources of human misery and wrongdoing. To be in solitude is to choose to do nothing. All accomplishment is given up…Silence is required to complete solitude, for until we enter quietness, including not listening and speaking, the world still lays hold of us. When we go into solitude and silence, we even stop making demands upon God. It is enough that God is God and we are His” (p. 212).

As Christians and as future counselors, it is critical that we understand the need for silence and solitude in order to attend to our soul wounds, develop our spiritual life, and tune our hearts in to God. Our immaterial self is no less real because we cannot see it.

In our over-stimulated society, we tend to look for the grand and glorious in the spiritual realm. So did Elijah. But, surprisingly, God was not in the great wind, or the earthquake, or the fire. Elijah heard God speak as “a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12).

As we engage in the gut-wrenching work of people-helping, we must not forget to take time to simply be. Be still. Be quiet. Be alone. Be with God…and with ourselves. We would be foolish to neglect the need for solitude and silence…in our own lives, in our clients’ lives, and even in the counseling process…for it is in the silence that God most often speaks.

And without God speaking, it’s all just a bunch of words.


  1. I really appreciated your post. Learning to be still has been a challenge for me and yet the practice of silence and solitude brings rest to my soul. I agree that it's so easy to get caught up in taking care of one's material self but forgetting altogether about one's immaterial health. It brings to mind the apostle Paul's words, "for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also fo rthe life to come" (1 Timothy 4:8). It is the immaterial man that lasts. Too often I find myself focusing on the materail man.

  2. This is such a good perspective and is something everyone struggles with, including myself. Even among Christians, it is hard for us to just be still and be alone with God....not making demands and not attempting to accomplish anything. Our Amercian culture is so focused on performance-oreinted activites and identities. These American mindsets have moved into Christian mindsets where Christianity is fueled by legalism and an excessive amount of activity. We think that we have to be something or do something for God in order for us to feel worthy of resting and being in His love. We are too prideful to simply put our performance/accomplishments aside and simply accept God's love and goodness through times of "being still". Instead of being still before God and accepting his gift of love and goodness towards us...we run around attempting to achieve/perform and ultimately EARN God's love an goodness through what we accomplish. This is not God's desire for our lives and we must learn to be still, putting our personal achievements/accomplishments/performances aside, and simply accept God's love and goodness He desires to show us through our silence and stillness as He speaks in whispers to our hearts.


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