For families, the back-to-school season means new schedules, fresh routines, football, shorter days, and the excitement of focusing again after summer vacation.
As fall kicks off, however, the busyness and stress of juggling life can feel overwhelming at times. Amid the fall frenzy of homework, rides, meals, sports, church, meetings, the arts, approaching holidays, work commitments, and family activities, many of us wonder where to find moments of solitude and silence to restore our souls.
Some of us may ask whether regular moments of peace and rest are even possible anymore?
Noise and hurry in our age
Reflecting on the frantic pace set by our culture, psychologist Carl Jung once remarked, “Hurry is not of the Devil. Hurry is the Devil.” Jung noticed how, as modern people, we resist slowing down, quieting our lives enough to truly listen to the stirrings of our own souls.
But silence can be scary. In silence, our fears, pain, loneliness, failures and broken relationships come to the surface. Instead of facing such inner realities, it is sometimes easier to stay plugged into ear buds, flat screens, smartphones, an endless flow of media, and packed schedules.
Avoiding the voice of God and our own personal struggles, however, is not a recipe for contentment. A full schedule does not automatically translate to a full soul. In fact, our attempt to pack more noise and hurry into our lives often leaves us feeling emptier and emptier.
Someone once asked John D. Rockefeller—one of the richest oil and railroad tycoons in all of American history—to answer the question, “How much is enough?” Our country’s first billionaire, who seemingly owned everything, replied by saying, “A little more.” Even with all his wealth and his incredible accomplishments, Rockefeller longed for more out of life. He was trapped in the cycle of needing “a little more” in order to feel like his life contained “enough.”
Finding true satisfaction
Satisfaction of the soul is not found by packing more things, noise or hurry into our schedules. Doing so only creates what author C.S. Lewis calls an ever-increasing appetite for an ever-diminishing pleasure. In other words, if we try to satisfy the hunger of our souls with anything other than God we will experience a craving that cannot be appeased. After each encounter, we end up hungrier than when we started. Reflecting on his own life journey, St. Augustine declared, “Our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.”
Time alone with God, in the stillness of silence and solitude, provides the only place where the human soul can be satisfied. In Psalm 23, David writes that the Lord, “makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.”
Are you willing to let God still the waters of your soul this fall?
When someone finds peace with God, silence becomes a friend instead of something to fear. As we set up our fall schedules, why not build in time to experience God through silence, solitude and time in His Word? Investing time to establish a counter-cultural schedule with room for rest would be well worth the sacrifice.
Learning to enjoy silence
When I speak to groups on this topic, I often let people experience 60 seconds of pure, uninterrupted silence while I stand quietly up front. This rare gift feels like an eternity for some. Others get nervous and glance around because we are simply not used to it. In presentations and production, we are taught to avoid silence at all costs.
Our souls, however, were designed to listen to, and meet, God in stillness.
With practice, we can learn to tolerate and then appreciate time alone with God.
Carving out 20 minutes each day to listen to God in silence and through His Word can bring renewal and joy to our souls.
God challenges us, and promises us, that we will not go away unsatisfied when we come to Him. Psalm 34:8 declares, “Taste and see that the LORD is good.”
I want to invite you to give God a chance to satisfy your soul this fall. Will you take the challenge to spend 20 minutes alone with the LORD, listening in silence, and reading His Word?
Your soul will not be disappointed.
— by Rev. Nate Landis, Ph.D.
Landis, is the president and founder of Urban Youth Collaborative, a non-profit that serves physical and spiritual food to 3,000 students every week at 83 public middle and high schools in San Diego County with the help of 45 local churches. He serves as Pastor to Schools at New Vision Christian Fellowship, a multi-ethnic congregation in North Park.