Silencing the Cymbals
by David Murray
We cannot know God without quiet. Every Christian wants to know God more; few Christians seek the silence that this requires. Although our Savior says, “Be still and know that I am God,” we spend our days smashing stillness, shattering knowledge, and using destroying cymbals on our ears and in our souls.
With so many gongs and clashes in our lives, it can sometimes be difficult to isolate and identify them. Let me help you do this and provide some mufflers.
First, there’s the din of guilt, the shame and embarrassment of our dark secrets: “I should have; I shouldn’t have; I should have; I shouldn’t have” clangs noisily in our recesses, shattering our peace and disturbing our tranquility.
Then greed starts banging away with its relentless drumstick: “I want it; I need it; I must have it; I will have it; I got it; I want it; I need it;” and so on.
What’s that angry metal beat? It’s hate stirring up malice, ill will, resentment, and revenge: “How could she? I’ll get her. She’ll pay for this.” Of course, anger often clatters into the cymbal of controversy, sparking disagreements, debates, disputes, and divisions.
Vanity adds a proud thud, drowning out all who compete with our beauty, talents, and status: “Me up, him down; me up, her down; me up, all down.”
Anxiety chimes distractingly in the background, too, surveying the past, present, and future for things to worry about: “What if? What if? What if?” Is that the little silver triangle of self-pity I hear: “Why me? Why me? Why me?”
The repetitive, unstoppable jangle of expectation comes from family, friends, employers, churches, and more. Oh, for even a few seconds’ respite from the tyranny of other people’s demands and our oversensitive consciences.
Moreover, smashing into our lives, wherever we turn, are the giant cymbals of the media and technology: local and international, paper and pixels, sound and image, audio and video, beep and tweet, notifications and reminders, and on it goes.
Is it any wonder that we sometimes feel as if we’re going mad? Clanking and clanging, jingling and jangling, smashing and crashing, grating and grinding. A large jarring orchestra of peace-disturbing, soul-dismantling cymbals.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
But how? We can silence the cymbal of guilt by taking faith to the blood of Christ and saying, “Believe.” Believe that all your sins are paid for and pardoned. There’s absolutely no reason to have even one bit of guilt. Look at that blood until you grasp how deep, wide, and long it is. It can make you whiter than snow and make your conscience quieter than the morning dew.
Greed is not easily silenced. Maybe muffled is about the best we can expect. Practice doing with less than usual; practice not buying even when you can afford it; practice buying nothing for six months except necessities; and practice spending time in the shadow of Calvary. How much less you’ll find you need when you see how much He gave. Make your budget at the cross.
Our unholy anger can be dialed down by God’s holy anger. When we feel God’s hot rage against all sin and all injustice, we begin to chill and calm. Vengeance is God’s, He will repay.
The doctrine of total depravity is the ultimate dampener of personal vanity. When I see myself as God sees me, my heart, my mind, and even my posture change. I stop competing for the top spot and start accepting the lowest place. “He must increase, I must decrease.”
Hey, I’m beginning to hear some quiet now. But there’s still that rankling anxiety chiming away. Oh, to be free.
The Fatherhood of God turns the volume of anxiety to zero. He knows, He cares, and He will meet your needs. Mute your “what ifs” at the bird feeder.
Oh, and call in total depravity again when self-pity starts up. “Why me?” cannot stand long before “Why not me?”
“She has done what she could.”
Don’t you love that? What an expectation killer. Every time the despotic Devil or your tyrannical conscience demands more than you can give, remind them of Jesus’ calming words, “she has done what she could” (Mark 14:8). That helps us, in good conscience, to disappoint unreasonable people.
Isn’t that growing silence golden? But it can become fully golden if you go the extra mile and deal with the noisy intruders of media and technology. There is no spiritual mystery to this. Look at your finger. That’s what stands between you and the still quietness without which you cannot know God. You know where the “off” button is. Why not try it one full day a week? Why not flex that finger every day at 8 p.m.?
We’d like it to be different. It won’t be. Ever. God has inseparably and irrevocably joined quietness with knowledge of Him. What God has joined together let not man put asunder.