Leather soled oxfords confidently stride across the glassy surface of a marble floor. The rhythmic clap of heels in the party is barely audible, overpowered by a thundering cacophony of hand claps. Every step towards the mahogany doors that rest ahead intensifies the roar generated on the other side. The methodical journey of this entourage arrives with calculated precision to the second. As the tall doors swing open, a hush sweeps over the anticipating crowd. Worn shoe leather crosses the threshold of the door frame — the audience erupts. Tiny light bulbs explode with glee around the dimly lit room, creating a sparkling harmony second only to the dotted glimmer of a starry sky. All heads crane to the open doorway. All eyes fixed to the figure as he emerges from the crowd.
The President of the United States.
His office has the ability to captivate free people. The crowd has freely come to participate in a moment wherein they are enthralled by the power of the office. Not a set of eyes deviates from his stride. Not a set of hands refrain from the cheer.
When the President moves, the room is fixed on him.
* * * * *
The concluding verses of Mark 4 paint an account that is relevant for each of us today. Jesus has spent the day sitting on a boat teaching parables to a vast multitude that has gathered on the shore. When the sun began to fade on the horizon, and the families on the coast started to collect their belongings for the walk back home, Jesus beckoned the disciples to get in the boat with him and cross the sea that night. Looming clouds towered high above the sea. Winds steadily rose to gale force causing the liquid surface to churn. Waves became roaring mountains. The boat Jesus and the disciples were in began to fill with water as each wave crashed upon them with violent force. Each second ticked by in what felted like an eternity, as the disciples wrestled to keep the boat from sinking. Meanwhile, Jesus lay fast asleep in the back of the ship. The thunderous howling of the wind, paired with the violent collision of the waves into the boat, drove the disciples to one conclusion — they must wake up Jesus.
The jostling of the boat made standing in a circle around Jesus challenging. Each disciple stood silent, not looking each other in the eye for fear that they would be selected to nudge Jesus awake. Finally one of them, maybe Peter or John, reached down and touched Jesus on the shoulder. His eyes opened, and the collective pleas of the disciples spilled out; “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing,” they said.
Calmly, Jesus stood and strolled to the center of the boat. He peered into the waves as the shrieking wind rushed through his hair. “Peace, be still,” he firmly commanded in a gentle voice. The wind immediately died and the waves coward beneath the surface. He turned and rebuked the startled disciples for their fear and lack of faith before returning to his pillow.
* * * * *
Life is loud. The roar of airplanes and Hemi engines. Noise canceling earbuds to mute outside noise — replaced with personal noise. Music, video games, podcasts and audio books. Ceiling fans and the neighbor’s dog. The rumble of the washing machine. The growl of the dish washer. Door bells and ring tones. Coffee grinders and fluorescent lights. The rhythmic pant of your breath.
Life is loud. Each day thousands of sound waves rattle the drum at the end of your ear canal, jockeying for your attention. Need we even get started on flashy advertisements and carefully designed cars, water bottles, and shopping malls? The twenty-first century is a loud, chaotic era. Our attention spans have rapidly shrunk to accommodate the overload of information that rushes through our neurons. Somewhere deep beneath the roar of life is a still small voice echoing within, “Peace be still.”
On the open sea that night, the disciples found themselves in a storm that drove their faith beneath the swell they were floating on. They became so fixated on the wind and waves that they forgot who was on the boat with them. In much the same way, our lives often become so crowded with responsibilities, social media, and hobbies that we neglect the Spirit that dwells in us — the Holy Spirit. It’s not that we seek to silence the voice of God or tune out his Word, the roar of life simply gets deafening. It is difficult to hear above the pain. Crisis is loud. Worry, fear, and stress shriek through our lives in a gale.
In Matthew 6, when teaching the disciples how to pray, Jesus teaches, “when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place” (v. 6, NKJV). Our daily struggle in prayer is to reclaim that secret place with God. Like Moses’ burning bush, our quest today is to venture to the holy place with God where only his voice thunders (Psalm 81:7). Whether it is in the stillness of a dawning day or the tranquility of a summer sunset, we must battle for a place of solitude with God where we can declare, “Peace be still.”
* * * * *
I read a story a few years ago of some friends who were visiting a city at the same time as the President. While walking through the city one afternoon, they were stopped by a police officer at a barricade on the sidewalk and were told they could not cross the street at this time. The officer notified them that the President of the United States was on the move and therefore they must stay where they were standing until he had passed. The power of the office of the President demands attention and can make everything around him freeze. Watch a Presidential motorcade and you will see that all traffic around him is at a standstill. If he is in a restaurant or business, everything else pauses, and the President is the sole focus. This is because authority demands attention.
The example of the President is simply to provide a glimpse of what it is like when God enters the scene of our lives. So often when God is at work, we find that it seems like nothing is moving. We try and try and try to get something going and nothing seems to be working. If your life appears to be at a standstill right now, I urge you to pause and listen for the still small voice of God — He’s at work.
Often in the Church, we talk about the will and timing of God in our lives. We spend a lot of energy seeking His voice and turning to His Word. We wait for God’s providence to unfold. However, simply because we are waiting does not mean we are twiddling our thumbs. If you have been to a restaurant recently, you had a waiter or waitress serve you whose responsibility was to tend to your needs while dining. When you needed a refill or had a problem with your order; hopefully, they were attentive and quickly made their way over to you. We have all experienced the frustration of a less than attentive waiter or waitress. Yet, there were times during your meal when you needed nothing. During those moments the individual may have been standing in the back or waiting near the door of the kitchen.
If you are waiting for God, I highly recommend that you do so by waiting on God.
Be attentive to the still small voice in your life. Seek to apply the Word daily. Live out the mission of the Church. Pause the roar of life today and find a secret place where you can speak, “Peace be still.”
"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!"
(Psalm 46:10, NKJV).