As the heat of summer rolled into the beginnings of fall in 2016 the change of seasons began. Kids went back to school, pumpkin spice everything was everywhere and all things fall and holiday planning came into view. I also felt a shift in my heart. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was but I felt it.
I didn’t long to draw and build and create because all I wanted was to draw and build and create with my babies. To go to the park instead of mommy needing to squeeze in a little more work and to not have to tell them one more time to please play quietly and let me finish what I didn’t get done during their nap time. I was so done with all the noise! Have you noticed, this world is very LOUD.
There was no major life event that caused this, I believe it was a simple but intentional pursuit of God after my heart again. Its like He was slowly leading me away from a busy street and setting me in front of the sea. No more hustle, no more bustle, just less.
Simple, quiet and slow.
Those were the three words He impressed on my heart one afternoon I forego my afternoon work time while the kids slept and instead felt pulled to just sit and wait for his presence with a cup of coffee as sunlight streamed in the back windows of my house.
Simple, quiet and slow.
Those words kept rolling around in my head as I consciously and subconsciously made choices to shift my heart and actions towards whatever those words were going to mean in my life. But WHAT did that actually look like? In late December I began digging deep into what God wanted for me in 2017. Part of that is picking a word for the year that will help keep me focused on what God has pressed into my heart.
At first, the word “less” came to mind. Less stuff, less noise, less busy. Yes. Less seemed to be a good word for the year. But I wasn’t settled. So I wrote down those three words : simple, quiet, slow. The ones God had been whispering to me for months and I knew it! But which one to pick? Well, “simple” was my word last year and while it could have been the focus for this year too, I was drawn most to the word “quiet”.
Now, with two little kids and a slew of teenagers my life is anything but quiet. In fact, when I’m alone in the car these days (which is rare) I usually just enjoy the silence instead of having music on! My life is quite overloaded with noise. But that wasn’t the meaning of “quiet” that I was drawn to. It was the sense of calm and less hustle. Then the verse came to mind,
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anyone.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
So then I looked up the definition of “quiet” and one of the definitions was “calm” and a few of the words to describe the opposite were “busy, hectic, hustle”. THIS. This is exactly what my heart had been trying to push away. The busy, hectic, hustle. As I stated before, our life is full of little children, teenagers, families, responsibilities, etc. just like yours so the prospect of my life not being busy on a day to day basis is entirely unrealistic. But if it were only busy with the best things. The good things, that carried eternal weight and value and not the other things that clamor for our attention in this very noisy world? That is what I am after in 2017. The quiet life.
Then, beautifully, and as God does, He swept in affirming this call to focus on the quiet life and work with my hands….how perfect for a mother and artist? Thanks God. I was having my morning quiet time studying the Bible and praying the morning of January 16 and what are the verses waiting on me to study? You guessed it. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. So I did, I tore those verses from limb to limb prying out whatever ounces of wisdom and understanding on this word God is clearly placing on my life for this year. And y’all, it was beautiful. And there is so much to be shared but I will focus just on a few high points here and I encourage you to go dig deeper for yourself.
In verse 11 we are told to “lead a quiet life” and this word “quiet” is as much about self-control as anything else. It is about the believer having a calm, peaceable temper as we see in 1 Peter 3:4 “…the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” For me, self-control is hardest when I am over-stressed, overworked, and feel like the demands keep coming at me like arrows one after another.
I read that the quiet life is one whose soul rests easy even in the midst of difficulty. Yes, Lord. That is what I want. If I am a busy body as talked about in the second half of verse 11 my life is characterized by not having control over myself or a peaceable, quiet spirit that God intends for me.
While tearing apart these verses I was using my Matthew Henry commentary and he said this of controlling one’s spirit:
“A true Christian’s main concern lies in the right controlling and commanding of their own spirit (Proverbs 16:32). Where the hypocrites’s work ends, the true Christian’s work begins.” – Matthew Henry
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” – Proverbs 16:32
Those are strong words, but man, they are good!
The second part of verse 11 is the command to, “work with your hands.” As an artist, I love this. But what is God really getting at with this? Basically, He is referring back to those busy bodies again. Those who are being busy meddling in other’s lives are not working as diligently as they should be in their calling and therefore, have very little quiet in their life. There it is. Do the work God has called you to do, work at it without worrying what anyone else is doing and you will reap the quiet life God wants for us AND we will have the respect of those who aren’t Christian’s for the work we do, the quality of our character and we will be able to support ourselves from that focused work (v.12).
It is easy to relate this verse to those people that kind of make our lives miserable because they won’t get their noses out of our business, but lets first examine our hearts. Maybe you are that busy body in 1 Thessalonians, good news, in those verses God tells you how to stop being that way and what to pursue instead! Secondly, you may be sitting here like me and saying, thank God that’s not me! Personally, that is an area that I thankfully don’t struggle with very much. If anything, I am maybe too content to not know what is going on in everybody else’s lives. I guess that’s what you get being raised with all brothers and all boys on your street growing up! I’m pretty no nonsense and anti-drama.
But in this world of being able to watch each others lives quite literally online all day long aren’t we just becoming that busy body that has to know what people are doing? I mean, do you have that person or those few people that you follow online and you are just dying for their next post, video, blog, whatever? Either as a fan or because you love to hate them and are waiting for them to trip up? Or maybe you just make sure to check at least once a day to “see what the world is up to?” I’m guilty on that one. When we are spending our time – minutes and hours of our lives – keeping up with the Jones’ online whether personally or in business, we are wasting time and energy we should be pouring into our own good work God has set before us. That in turn robs us of energy, time, creativity, confidence, and wait for it…money. Yep. You rob yourself of so many good things when you are so worried about what everyone else is doing!
The quiet digging, plodding along at our own good, God-assigned work for His glory reaps many rewards for you because it is God’s design for you. Will you, will we submit our spirit to a life like this, or will we continue to chase the next piece of gossip, headline or post to make sure we won’t miss anything? In reality when we live like that, we miss the good stuff, that soul satisfying good stuff that will matter eternally. These verses have spoken life into me personally, in business and ministry for this year. After wrestling with this thought for months God has uncovered in layers what this will look like for me and recently has given me a specific vision for my year ahead. I am so excited about all of it, and that this work God has given me is unique to me and my gifts, and my limitations in life currently. So I have decided my small creative business will stay very small. That my work won’t look like or compete with everyone else’s and that is ok!
Because instead of trying to play by the world’s rules of when I should be making this or that, when to release products, what kinds of things I should be putting out there, I get to make and release and put out exactly what God leads me to and His opinion is the only one that matters. And I am confident if I follow this path, trust in the Truth of His Word I will look back when I’m 80 and be satisfied that I didn’t waste what I was given and cannot get back. This year won’t be perfect, but it will be purposeful. And quiet. And I hope the same for you! Blessings today, friends!