Quiet Comfort

How are you with silence? I wouldn’t want continuous silence, but I enjoy special moments of stillness. I especially like quiet. My dad once told me that it was because I grew up in Wyoming. Dad really missed Wyoming in his last years. I don’t live there any longer so I miss it too. I remember nature’s concert as the Wind River flowed around a big bend in the pasture. Water rippled over rocks here and there, adding high notes to the river’s music. I can still hear that sweet sound mixed with the drone of a dragonfly and the trill of a meadowlark.

I remember the day my cousin and I rode our horses up into the foothills. At one point, we dismounted and stood, looking down into the Lander Valley. The silence actually hurt my eardrums as they strained to pick up even a slight sound. I did not hear the call of a bird nor the rustle of a breeze. Our horses even stood silent. We didn’t talk; we just took in the moment.

Winter nights are good for quiet stargazing. The crisp air enhances the glittering sky and the snow muffles unwanted sounds; such splendor provides a backdrop for thinking. As I identify the few constellations and star groupings that I know, I think about our own planet. I ask myself questions like, “Who am I? Do I matter in this vast expanse of space filled with billions of suns in our own galaxy and the twinkling lights of other galaxies so far away that they look like a single star?”

My favorite star is Arcturus, also called, in modern translations, The Bear. You can find it by first finding the Big Dipper. Then follow the stars along the curved dipper’s handle and the first bright star you see as you drop off the handle is Arcturus. Thousands of years before modern astronomy, God asked Job (in Job 38) if he could guide Arcturus.

Astronomers now tell us that Arcturus is 23 times the size of our sun (and we can fit a million earths into our sun) and only 37 light years away. Arcturus was headed straight for our planetary system. It would have wiped us out! Instead, scientists noticed that over the millenniums its forward speed slowed and its sideways speed picked up, which caused it to miss us. Amazing! Silence offers me space to ask questions as I view this star that Someone else guides. There has to be a good reason why we are on this planet!

Watching the political and social issues on the news is like navigating a noisy, explosive mine field; chaos abounds as people snipe and yell at each other. It gets so noisy that people can’t think. There is reason for crying out. The spiritual lives of millions are at stake.

I think about how God heard the cry of the Israelites and delivered His people from bondage by the blood of a lamb. Our lamb, that gave His life for us, is alive today. He has a lot to say to us; some of it is through His Word, the Bible; sometimes He speaks to us in a quiet voice.

I remember His words to me in one of my darkest moments. I was so afraid of the people who had set out to destroy us. It felt like the noise would never stop. The Lord quietly comforted me with these words, and I will share them with you because I think they would apply to all who follow Him. He said, “Be still, my child; be still, and know that I am God. I never will leave you nor will I forsake you; be still, my child, be still.”

I heard those words over 30 years ago, and they still have meaning for me today. I don’t know what 2023 will look like. I can get very uptight about it, with all that is happening in the world, but then I remember the Lord’s quiet comfort and I settle in and think about who He is and why He put us here, and peace and hope return. My heart is quiet again.

Sue Carlisle grew up on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. An enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, her passion is to encourage people to look at creation and see our awesome

Creator. Sue is author of Walking with the Creator Along the Narrow Road. She and her husband, Wes, now live in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

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