Monday, August 12, 2013

Entropy (and the Silence of God)

"Be still, and know that I am God...." Ps. 46:10a

I often wish that I could feel all the strength of God's peace, to drown in the silence and stillness at the depths of His Being, to be pulled with cords of infinite desire into His simplicity. I think we all (in some way) wish for that because we are not that: we are not peaceful or silent or still or simple. We are "all wound up" tighter than a bow-string, continually tightening and fraying and tightening again in an endless cycle of mounting stress and frenetic exasperation.

Consequently, we crave peace, moments when the world would just shut up and shut off and leave us alone. Moments like lying in bed in the morning, feeling the coolness of the sheets, listening to the stillness of the house, and watching sunlight ripple across the curtains. Moments like hanging with your friends around a campfire as evening grows long and all conversation is exhausted and there's nothing to do but sit and stare into the slow-dying fire dancing gently in the pit. Moments like coming home from an excruciating day and finding no one home, so you collapse into the couch as you are, find just the right "spot," and drink in the silence and occasional easy noise of the wind in the trees and songbirds in the yard.

The legalistic part of our self would guilt us into calling such moments laziness, but there is another part of us that knows better. We know those moments are something good. We know (in some dim way) that we have not stumbled into a vice but upon the summation of all virtue. We have drunk of the stillness of God, and it tasted just like heaven.

The Hebrew word for "still" in Psalm 46 is unique: it means not only stillness but also to become still, to lose all energy and slacken all activity unto all comes to rest. The idea is that of entropy: the expulsion of all energy until all comes to a standstill. It is an apt image, for we cannot simply be still. We must become still.

"Jane! Stop this crazy thing!"
It is an effort, a struggle, a knock-down-drag-out fight to let go of every thing, every thought, and every person pulling at us, and God knows it. We are all tops spinning and being spun maddeningly around, spun again and again by circumstances. To stop suddenly would be too jarring; we must ease into it, into the stillness, the quiet, the collapse, releasing from ourselves the myriad of gnawing thoughts like steam from a valve. We must take the time to occasionally come to a halt, to be taken into the stillness, for it is there that we can know God. In the silence, He speaks and we can finally speak. There we can consider the real God and speak our real mind.

As long as the cares of this world have a hold of us, they will choke out the knowledge of God, and that is the tragedy of it all. In stillness we meet His Stillness. In quiet we meet His Quiet. In silence we meet His Silence. Not the silence of death or indifference but of ease, like the "silence" of the woods when there is no predator or trouble, and all is going as it should: creeks bubbling, birds singing, winds whispering, leaves rustling. So too is the "silence" of God: it is a peace coming from all things going well, a peace that passes all understanding, for from our view nothing is going well. But we must learn to lose our view in God's view, which is not found in "seeing the big picture" but in becoming still, in releasing our weariness and heavy burdens and falling into the Rest of God, wherein we find the rest of God as well.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2013


  1. Beautiful….

  2. I don’t know how often you update, but I really like your blog. Hope you write something new soon.