Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reflections on Silence

Photo courtesy of Evgeni Dinev/FreeDigitalphotos.net
Recently I’ve read a few devotional pieces on Psalm 23. If you haven’t read it in a while, I’d encourage you to. Give yourself some time to simply sit and meditate on each of the verses. It’s a Psalm that brings such comfort.

Often when I'm praying I picture myself sitting with Jesus in a lush meadow. It’s peaceful and safe. I find I don’t want to leave it; I’m alone with my Lord and my shepherd. The world can wait a little while longer.

Soul Restoration

Jesus is in in the business of restoring souls. Verse 2 of the Psalm gives us insight in how He does this:

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.” (NKJV)

This conveys such glorious imagery, not just of peace and safety, but also replenishment. James MacDonald says:

Green pastures represent for us the bread of life that is God’s Word and God’s Son (see Luke 4:4; John 6:35). He provides all the nourishment we need, and we need it continually.

Still waters. Picture yourself sitting on lush lawn, a gentle brook running beside you. It’s quite romantic.

Sheep apparently don’t like rushing water, it frightens them. We, too, can be troubled when life is throwing all sorts of things at us. But Jesus wants to take us to where the water is still. It is there He can minister to us.

When life is out of control and we’re always focusing on the “stuff” rather than Jesus, it’s difficult for us to be still and to hear His voice.

For the first time I chose a Word to focus on throughout the year. That word is Silence. You can read my post on it over on my blog. We welcomed, Beanie, our x-kelpie pup, in February and this served to interrupt my morning routine somewhat. Walking, feeding and such. However, I’ve loved our early morning walks even with the chilly starts of winter. I make a point to leave the house just as the sun is rising. I thank the Lord for the sunrise, some of which can be simply extraordinary.

The beauty of David’s words is that Jesus wants to lead us to the still waters all day every day. To quote James MacDonald again:

“Notice the word beside. This isn’t some down-to-the-river-and-out-again experience. Beside the still waters is where you can live your life. It isn’t a monthly or a weekly thing; it’s a daily, continuous replenishing. You’re walking with Christ beside still waters, drinking in His presence. You're alone with Him, not thinking about the time. It’s quiet . . . and He's restoring you.”

Some days are better than others. Some I get to sit beside Him, others it’s a real struggle. But most days I keep turning up, even if for a little while.

How about you?

How do you spend time beside the still waters?

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel, Angelguard, was released recently in US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter


  1. Thanks so much, Ian--I am speaking somewhere on this exact psalm soon. Each day, I like to leave my desk and sit on the bed in my study and just be with God as I read Scripture. I try to keep reading until I hear just what it is God wants to say to me that day. I might read a couple of chapters--or it might be the same verse I read the day before, all over again! I think it's about being really still and going deep inside with God somehow, sensing God's presence both in and around us, wherever we are. By the way, I love your word 'silence' for the year. Right now, I have an embroidered illustrated text above my desk that says: 'Let us be silent that we may hear the Whisper of God.' It's from Emerson and I'm not sure what his beliefs were, but I love it!

    1. I love that quote, JoAnne. For years I have had a cup of tea in bed and read my Bible before starting the day. If I get up and try to read anywhere else, I am distracted by putting a load of laundry in first or getting the meat out of the freezer for dinner or that e-mail that needs to be taken care of right away. And then I never get to experience that Silence, as you say Ian. Thank you.

    2. LeAnne, I love that you have this daily habit of reading the Word before you rise. Long may it continue.

  2. Oh thank you Jo-Anne. I'm so pleased this post may have assisted you. I made a last minute decision to use this one instead of another.

    May I encourage you to look up James MacDonald's blog as he reflected on the psalm for a few days. He's a wonderful expository teacher. Here's the link to one of them. The rest were in early July.


    Stillness can be so difficult for us. I love that you seek it each day. "Be still and know that I am God."

    Best of luck with your talk. I love that Emerson quote.


  3. "Some cathedral aisle of silence..."
    "Sanctuary - house of God"

    These words are the cutline below a photo of majestic trees in the scrapbook my godfather made for me when I was twelve. My youngest grandchild is now ten, so it's been a long time. But that page has been part of my heart for all these years.

    Silence is healing, nourishing, edifying. And in the silence, we can emulate Brother Lawrence in practicing the presence of God.

    In today's society, silence is a scarce commodity. Thank you for the reminder that we need to seek it and protect it.

    1. Judith - what a wonderful gift your godfather gave you all those years ago.

      Thanks for your lovely encouragement.