Living out the Metaphor
There are moments in life when we experience living through something we’ve recently pondered from Scripture, a living metaphor. For example, after my first child was born, I had a whole new appreciation for Peter’s admonition to hunger for the Word of God as a newborn babe desires milk. In the middle of the night. And during a growth spurt–all day.
I had another such experience, as I was trying to enjoy a quiet moment before beginning the quotidian tasks of another day. Shortly after breakfast the dishes were cleared, and the children went their various ways. As they were absorbed in their play, I decided to enjoy my “morning time” on our back patio. A little haven in my suburban life–flowers that bloom in all seasons, trees for shade, bird feeders that are bustling with activity. No less than ten chickadees being chased away by two wrens as they fight over who will be perching in which bush. No gnats or mosquitos yet, they usually arrive later in the morning. Sipping my coffee, opening to a familiar passage of Scripture, praying.
Like a Weaned Child
A few minutes later my four-year-old rushes out of the door screaming “how could you?” She stands on the top stair crying. I open wide my arms and she runs into my lap, and sits with me on the patio. It takes a moment to calm her down, and she was finally able to tell me she did not like running through the house unable to find me. I held her close, kissed her head and gently reassured her: I will always love you, and I was right here in my familiar place; I will not leave you alone. She sat contentedly on my lap for quite a while, as I let my thoughts turn back to prayers.
And I thanked the LORD for giving me a very vivid picture of what I had just been reading in Psalm 131:2-3:
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child leans against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord, from this time forth and forever.
David had to compose and quiet his soul. All Christians will come through various seasons in life wherein we too must compose our souls, quiet our souls. There is no switch to flip, and there is no doing this apart from God’s plenteous grace. This is something we need to learn, for in our flesh we will run amok or find only temporary relief.
Compose Your Soul, In Christ
There are a few simple things we can learn from Scripture about how we too can compose and quiet our souls. First, we must seek our God as my child sought me. God frequently called out to His people “seek Me,” and on our best days we will echo with David from Psalm 27 “Your face, O Lord, will I seek!” Second, we must pour out our hearts to God, as my child cried out her woes as soon as she saw me. Third, we must endeavor to abide in Him–sit back, lean into Him, listen to God’s gentle reassurances that will compose our souls. God’s promise to grant us peace beyond our comprehension will prove true.
Seek Him Where He is Found–in His Word
First, we seek our God, He alone can truly quiet our souls. We join Him in this work by looking to Him. We learn from Jesus, as He taught His disciples (see John 5:37-47), that Scripture indeed is where we ought to be searching, reading prayerfully, trusting that His Spirit will give us understanding. When we seek Him, with our heart, mind and soul, we will find Him knocking at the door of our heart. We find that He’s never left us, though we felt alone and afraid, full of contrary emotions igniting the disquiet of our souls. We set our minds, rather than letting our minds wander; we set them firmly on the Spirit (see Romans 8) rather than on circumstances or inward thoughts. The Spirit fills those times with life and peace, that we could compose and quiet our souls.
Pray, and Do Not Lose Heart
Second, we pour out our hearts in prayer. Do not let your heart grow bitter as you rehearse your woes, rather come to Him that He may take your burden. Lay it down at His cross. Let His Word guide your prayers (see John 15:7). His ways and thoughts are much more beautiful than most of our knee-jerk reactions. Sometimes the best prayers in this time start with a reading of a favorite passage.
A few of my favorite New Testament prayers are: Romans 8; Ephesians 3:14-21; Colossians 1; 1 Peter 1. I would also recommend becoming familiar with the various Psalms. 143, 116, 61-63, 46, 27, or 18 are some of my most prayed through sections. Or perhaps create a simple yet beautiful prayer from 2 Thessalonian 3:5, begging that God would usher you into His love and His steadfastness. Sometimes our gaze is entirely inward as we try to work our way through the angst in our souls; the LORD would rather we pray while trusting Him to be at work, to grant us wisdom, to meet our needs, to be an ever present help.
Abide, Remain, Rest Assured
Lastly, we can attempt in the flesh to quiet our souls, but it will not last long. We can try to distract our thoughts. We can try to placate our desires, though in our own strength these efforts often lead to idolatry. You will find yourself clinging to something in Christ’s place. Apart from abiding in Christ, our souls will soon lose their true repose, and cease to experience His joy and peace. We need God’s compassion and kindness. We need Him to heal, and to renew us to flourishing. We must abide in Christ to enjoy the composing and quieting of our souls, because apart from Him we can do nothing (see John 15:5).
Look to Him, listen to Him speak in His Word, and do not look for more. Remain in the Scriptures, preach His Word to your soul until it remains, etched onto your heart (see Proverbs 3).
Unless we abide in Him, our souls will ever be flitting in chaos, evading the solace of God’s love, and the true hope we have in Him. Remind yourself to hope in Him, read often of the promises of hope for our future; this will quiet your soul unlike any plans or programs we attempt on our own.