My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore. (Psalm 131)
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” (Saint Francis de Sales)
Calm and Quiet
Francis de Sales was renowned for his peaceful response to the political and spiritual chaos of his day. As the Catholic Bishop in Geneva at the turn of the 17th-century, de Sales had plenty of opportunity to practice the peace-making that he preached. At the time, Geneva was at the epicenter of the conflict between Catholics and Protestants—a conflict that frequently escalated beyond ideas and words to hatred and violence. De Sales’ response was to practice tolerance, civility and charity in an environment filled with disagreement and discord. If you began by pursuing your love and devotion for God, he argued, you would find inner spiritual peace and ultimately be empowered to live in peace with others, “even if your whole world seems upset.”
This upset world we currently inhabit could certainly use that kind of calming and quieting peace!
One of Francis de Sales “life-texts” was Psalm 131, which is printed in its entirety above (compare this brief song of ascents with Francis’ quote beneath it). The psalmist begins his song, not with a plea for God to deliver him or forgive him or help him; instead, he offers a declaration—his “eureka moment.” It’s like he has suddenly awakened and discovered himself in a better place. “My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me…I have calmed and quieted myself.” (vs. 1-2) Wow! How did THAT happen?
The psalmist credits a change in focus for this new calm and quiet he is experiencing. Instead of chasing after, “great matters” or “things too wonderful for me,” he has found contentment in this new inner peace. Freed from his self-centeredness (proud heart) and worldly aspirations (haughty eyes), he is now finally, “like a weaned child with its mother.” He is not only freed from chaos and confusion, but he is now freed for life and love. He is able to calm and quiet himself, but only because he is under the constant protection and care of God. Like a weaned child with its mother, he celebrates his independence and his utter dependence at the same time! True peace, he realizes, is only possible when you, “put your hope in the Lord” (vs. 3).
On the night of Jesus’ betrayal—on the eve of his sham trial, torture and crucifixion—Jesus told his disciples he would soon be leaving them. But he also promised them that, “I will not leave you as orphans” (John 14:18). They were being weaned, but they were not being left alone. They would always be under God’s watchful protection and care. Like weaned children with their mother, they would be able to calm and quiet themselves even when the whole world was in chaos. There was nothing to fear if they put their hope in the Lord. As long as they kept their focus on Him, they would experience true peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Are you overwhelmed by the chaos and confusion right now, or are you resting in the calm and quiet? Here’s the deal: the greatest threat to our spiritual peace is not the chaos and clamor all around us; it’s our own “proud hearts” and “haughty eyes.” I can only find contentment when I put my hope in the Lord, both now and forevermore. I’m not ready to practice my in-dependence until I humbly acknowledge my utter-dependence on God. As St. Augustine put it, “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds rest in You.”
Maybe it’s time to calm and quiet yourself…to embrace your utter dependence on God…to rest in Him. Turn down the noise outside, stop chasing after your life. And let God’s love continue to change you from the inside out. Stay thirsty, my friends!
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)