In something I was reading earlier today I came across a small, somewhat tangental and unrelated section that has stuck with me. I was reading a Christmas sermon by Martin Luther, so presumably the text was from the 1500’s, and there were many though provoking points that he made but in a sort of aside he said this:
This Gospel is so clear that it requires very little explanation, but it should be well considered and taken deeply to heart; and no one will receive more benefit from it than those who, with a calm, quiet heart, banish everything else from their mind, and diligently look into it. It is just as the sun which is reflected in calm water and gives out vigorous warmth, but which cannot be so readily seen not can it give out such warmth in water that is in roaring and rapid motion.
– Martin Luther, “The Story of the Birth of Jesus; and the Angels’ Song”
I have taught and written and counseled numerous times about the great benefits of silence and solitude. It is one of the most invaluable spiritual disciplines that I have found in my walk with Christ (when it is preceded and informed by the Scriptures particularly). Once again I was moved by this concept as I read Luther’s words this morning. The image of a rushing and raging river’s inability to reflect the sun and also it’s ineffectiveness in retaining the heat of that same sun was beautifully expressed and powerfully presented. Not only do I lose sight of the realities of God and of myself when I fail to take time to stop and contemplate, but I also lose the fire and passion for Christ and His Gospel as well. There is no heat emanating from my soul that keeps me warm or that attracts others.
As I was thinking about this I was reminded of one of my favorite Christmas practices. One of the things that I truly look forward to during this season of the year is either staying up late and/or getting up early and spending time with coffee or hot tea in the den’s with the only illumination being the lights of the Christmas tree. There is something so relaxing and recalibrating about those moments of peace and tranquility that I start thinking about them a couple of months before our tree ever goes up (because I still respect Thanksgiving enough not to kick it to the curb in favor of the next holiday – be convicted if the shoe fits).
I wanted to encourage you today, friends, to begin to carve out that time in your life. Build in those times that you know you can be to yourself, in a quiet place, and just be with God. Not to create a “to do” list, and not to go through the laundry list of prayer requests – those things are needed and good, don’t get me wrong – but just to sit in His presence pondering, dwelling, and abiding. I understand the difficulty that children present to this pursuit, I have two small children who are as demanding as Patton and louder than Stalin, but there are those moments when I realize that they are asleep or occupied and I’m wasting time, and voila, the opportunity presents itself.
Find the time, it will make a difference. Our rushing, raging, rapid-filled lives don’t offer much time for reflection of the Son or reception and retention of His heat, but I believe that as your heart begins to long for it, you will find times when the waters calm and the quiet comes. Enjoy those times. Get up early, stay up late, do what it takes, but don’t forsake your own need for silence and solitude.