September 16, 1994

In Quiet Places: How Silence Makes You Grow

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“Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together.”
Thomas Carlyle

Stop. No, really, I want you to stop. Stop mentally reviewing tomorrow’s to-do list. Stop replaying this morning’s meeting in your head. Just stop. Don’t stop reading, but stop spinning your wheels. Stop allowing the ideas and concerns and stresses of your life to destroy your chances of gleaning something worthwhile from this brief book. It’s not just you. I too have to make myself stop. To get outside the craziness of the everyday, I routinely create opportunities for space. I may consider a book or a talk I’ve listened to. I may ponder a conversation I’ve had with a friend or meditate on something I’ve learned from scripture. Whatever it is, I consciously stop everything to do that one thing.
Over the years, no book has meant more to me in the area of developing spiritual disciplines than Chuck Swindoll’s So, You Want To Be Like Christ? This book, which is an expanded edition of his earlier best seller Intimacy With The Almighty, is one of those books I pull off the shelf multiple times a year. It’s the kind of book I buy in bulk and give to friends because of how much it’s helped me grow spiritually.
Swindoll possesses a unique gift of being able to distill heavy theological truths into understandable and relevant prose. In his chapter on silence he challenges readers to pause. I’d like to draw from Swindoll on this topic because I find it so important in the process of learning and growing to be more like Christ. He focuses on the Old Testament word selah, a word used throughout the Psalms. The best translation for this word is “a pause.” Swindoll’s friend translates selah like this: “Pause, and let that sink in.”
And that’s what I’m asking you to do right now.

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