Few things strengthen Christian faith more than seeing God at work in one’s life. Likewise, few things weaken faith more than failing to recognize such divine activity. Spiritual vision is so vital for Christian faith that I don’t think it is possible to overemphasize its importance. Yet, such vision does not come without a cost. For most of us, we pay through the sacrifice of stillness.
Modernity is not conducive to spiritual sight because we are embedded in a cultural matrix highly resistant to intentional stillness. We are typically rewarded not by a ceasing of activity but by its intensification. The discipline of stillness is rarely convenient and usually threatening to our so called levels of “productivity.” Therefore, if we are serious about strengthening our faith we must learn to fight for stillness and remain patient in its practice because spiritual vision takes time to nurture.
Philosopher and theologian, Dallas Willard writes, “Muddy water becomes clear if you only let it be still for a while” (The Divine Conspiracy, 259). These wise words underscore the relationship between stillness and vision. Therefore, we must learn to cultivate a passion for the clear refreshing waters of undistracted time alone with God if we hope to strengthen our eyes of faith. And we must drink daily because we can’t rely on past experiences of divine stillness. Just like the muddying of clear water, so too does the business of life have a way of quickly clouding the clarity of yesterday’s spiritual vision we vowed never to forget.
We don’t have to be heroes in this discipline. We just have to be consistent . . . even if it is only a few focused minutes a day. We must simply begin somewhere. As we learn to practice stillness and silence, God trains us to see what we never before noticed—his guiding and sustaining hand before us, behind us, and ever surrounding us. The transforming impact of such vision will be like a whole new world within our world suddenly slipping into sight.
As we become faithful in the practice of stillness, we will soon become like Jacob (in Genesis 28:16), who after encountering God’s presence—in what initially seemed like a very normal place—later exclaimed, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” Through stillness God unveils our eyes of faith to recognize his presence and discern his activity ever among us regardless how ordinary or awful our situations may appear. Next week we will talk about the impact of such renewed vision upon our life.
What Do You Think?
Have you ever experienced a new awareness of God’s activity in your life through intentionally practicing stillness? If so, how did this affect you?
♦ To see the video and poem this post is based on, click here.