I can remember the hush that characterized the traditional church in which I was raised. Weekly, our family attended the services and participated in what was a serious, solemn, and predicable program. The name of Christ was mentioned often and together the attendees recited the ancient Creed that dated to the Apostles and sang ancient songs.
There were incidents of rambunctiousness among the children at hand. These were met with stern shushes and steely, death ray kinds of gazes. Quietness was the order of the room, and it was to be maintained. I learned this and came to respect and even cherish it.
During my early teens, I started paying more attention. Walking home from a friend’s one afternoon, I saw people driving in for the service and felt moved. It seemed I was being drawn to the place. So I decided to go right to church. I wasn’t really dressed for the event, but I didn’t even think about that at all. I just wanted to there, right then. There was no hesitation. It seems I was prepared for this moment.
I went in, sat down, and listened. The hush enveloped me and, perhaps, for the first time I sensed the presence of God. I left the service feeling as if I had been with Someone, with Him.
It was a beginning. I believe the Spirit awakened something in me that day. I want to be careful how I describe this. Was this a divine spark? That sounds too new age and cosmic. Besides that, sparks fly upward and die out quickly — provided they don’t land on something flammable and bring disaster. This was more than that. It was start of God shaping me for His building.
Rest and Strength
There was a mystical quality about it, and all these years later I can still recall the place, the time, the experience with clarity. And as I remember, I am grateful for the quietness, the solemnity of it all. I think the people there really wanted something from God and wanted to do something for God, so they came and prayed, came and sang, came and said the words. Only the Lord knows how many of them really meant the words they said and sang, and how many really called upon Him to be saved.
That is a matter too high for me, too high for any of us really. The point of this is the quietness, the hush in the Lord’s processes. The prophet Isaiah wrote this to the people of Israel: “…in returning and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength … ” (Isaiah 30:15). Elijah heard God as a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).The Lord's work in people is precise and right. Click To Tweet
It’s a cacophonous time we live in. So many voices saying so many things drive some to crank up the volume or utter something gross and outrageous just to get a hearing. Go large, go big, or don’t go at all is the spirit of the age. Quiet, small, consistent ways are being crowded out.
We can read in 1 Kings the detailed account of how Solomon guided the building of the great temple at Jerusalem. There, in 1 Kings 6, the atmosphere of the construction site is described. There was no hammer, chisel, or saw heard at the site. All of the stones for the building were quarried elsewhere. Once, prepared and shaped, each stone was brought and fitted into place in the temple structure.
Peace in Construction
Even in construction, the house of the Lord was not a place of noise. The Church of Jesus is defined through a number of New Testament pictures. One of these pictures is that of a building, as we read in Ephesians 2:18-22:
“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
The Spirit moves among us and draws together strangers and foreigners into a citizenship of communion in Christ, our Cornerstone. In Him, we are framed together as a habitation of God. People who would by nature remain distant and detached find themselves at home with God and with each other in His assemblies.
The preparation of God’s saints happens here and there, in different ways and timeframes. The building comes together perfectly and properly according to sovereign order of the Lord. He knows who belongs where and what time to put them in place.
The Lord’s Work
I have to confess that I have at times tried to help the Lord with His preparations. Ignoring God’s counsel to prefer the other one, to forbear with long suffering and patience, I can try to make others into something they were not meant to be. When it really comes down to it, I want to make them like me. Psalm 115 defines this as the essence of idolatry: “They that make [idols] are like unto them; so is every one that trusts them” (Psalm 115:8).
The Lord’s work in people is precise and right. His anointing flows from the Head, Christ Jesus, all the way to the edges. The oil of the Spirit touches His people from top to bottom. His still, quiet work is the one we should view with confidence and hope.
For more on how God fits us into His places and purposes, listen to this message preached by Thomas Schaller, pastor of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore.
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