Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
Is there a more calming image than that of a small child resting contentedly in his mother’s arms? What a picture of peace. However, in my experience with children, such rest is often the result of a hard-fought battle. Most toddlers are busy and on-the-go. They have plans! They have projects! They have their own ideas about what they want to do, and sitting still is rarely a part of those plans.
And so they fight it.
They fight stillness with all their strength, kicking and squirming, screaming and crying. Surrender is not an option, so many will cry themselves to sleep, resisting stillness to the point of total exhaustion.
Am I any different?
Like a toddler, I’m busy and on-the-go. I have plans! I have projects! I have my own ideas about what I want to do, and sitting still is rarely a part of those plans. I expect to slow down once I finish doing everything I have to do. But the list never ends, and so I never stop.
I never stop, unless, like the Psalmist, I choose to “compose and quiet my soul.” Notice the volition of this sentiment. Being still isn’t something that he stumbles upon by chance; he himself has composed and quieted his soul. The preceding verse offers even more insight about how one might go about composing and quieting one’s soul:
O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
The psalmist has recognized his own limitations. He has embraced his humanity and the weakness that comes with it. He’s stopped fighting, and accepted that God is God, and he is not. And with that realization, he can be still.
He stops and delights in the presence of the Lord. There is no anxious praying, no genuflecting, no theologizing. There is simply stillness.
But we have an added challenge. The modern world has a way of keeping our minds busy and active even when we are physically still. I have different ringtones for text messages, emails, and calls on a phone that clamours constantly for my attention. And I give it. And then I read articles online, and peruse social media sites, and click on recipe links, and watch kitten videos, until suddenly I realize that hours, days, weeks have passed, and I haven’t had a moment’s peace. I have not composed and quieted my soul. Instead I have involved myself in great (and trivial) matters. I’m a squirming, kicking, toddler.
But I am learning to stop. To be still. To simply sit contentedly, recognizing that I have all that I need. And when I quiet my soul, I hear the reassuring beat of my Father’s heart, reminding me that He is the source of my satisfaction.
Warmly in Christ,
The Psalmist uses the image of a weaned child resting against his mother to describe the state of his soul.
What image would best describe the current state of your soul? Finish this phrase: My soul is like….
When was the last time you stopped? Really stopped? For how long were you still? Were you truly at rest?
Do you involve yourself in “great matters” or “things that are too difficult” for you? What might you do to change this tendency?