I Have Quieted My Soul
I am looking out my kitchen window this morning at a lovely, delicate snowfall that is covering the world – at least my little corner of it – with a dusting of pure white. You know the sort of snowfall I mean. Not the sort where the snow is piling up at an inch or more an hour with the wind blowing a gale, but rather just enough for a coating that makes everything bright and clean and almost magical. There are birds at the feeder this morning too, in the snow – a female cardinal, a nuthatch, and two downy woodpeckers along with several sparrows. It is a scene that delights the soul, and is enough to make me hesitate to look at the news headlines, so many of which are filled with controversy and gloom.
A.W. Tozer once said, “True Christian joy is the heart's harmonious response to the Lord's song of love.” That’s what I want. It’s not that I think I should stick my head in the sand. I want to understand the world and its problems to the degree I can. I just don’t want to be consumed with a desire for that kind of understanding. My mind goes to psalm 131 – one of the shortest psalms in the entire Psalter – just three verses – but one that speaks to my heart as I watch the snow:
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.
The superscription says that this is a “song of ascents” – in other words, a song that was used for going up to Jerusalem, up to the Temple Mount, to meet with God. It begins with the renunciation of all pride, all self-exaltation, all self-sufficiency and all independence. It begins with humility: “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.” Forgive me, Lord, for often occupying myself with such things. Help me to know and accept and treasure my place in your grand plan. Help me to leave the mysteries to you, and to regard both myself and the world from the solid ground of whole-soul trust in the One who holds the world in his hands.
“But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Lord, I see that this is the language of self-discipline. You want me to have in my mind the image of a child that has been trained to see that he is not the center, that he does not need to be screaming about his needs, but rather can find contentment just climbing up and sitting in his mother’s lap, where he can feel his mother’s heartbeat, know her warmth, hear her singing softly, soothingly. You want me to quiet my soul. Lord, help me to see that I am not the center, that I don’t need to be anxious about what I perceive as my needs, that I don’t need to understand all the world’s problems, or to be trying to figure out what to think about every international incident. Help me to learn quietly, humbly from you, who are, yourself, gentle and lowly in heart. Help me to train my soul to be still and to listen.
Lord, remake my heart until all desires pale before one desire only: that you would grant me yourself. And may my hope be in you alone “from this time forth and forevermore.”