I went to a retreat one weekend at which the theme was Psalm 46:10—“Be still and know that I am God.”* As you might expect, there was a wealth of discussion about being still. Many of the usual “still” times and places were tossed out—nature, church, night, etc. So how was it that while the retreat leader was talking about those still, quiet moments when we encounter God in special ways, I was thinking about how God has met me in the midst of a thick cloud of sound? Imagine the cacophony of an edgy electric guitar, the smooth saturated thump of a deep bass, the steady snap and pounding of drums. There’s nothing still or quiet in this scenario. Except that there is. What’s still is my heart standing in the midst of the rage of melodies in absolute awe of the God who can touch me through all these waves of sound, drawing me body, mind and soul into the wonder of his presence. My fellow retreaters didn't quite resonate with my explanation of my loud God moments, but they did respect their existence.
Maybe the reason for the stark contrast between my God moment memories and the stillness of that nature retreat place is that stillness is a common factor in my daily life right now, but loud music isn't Maybe the kinetic learner in me resonates with the physicality of loudness. I like to worship in ways that involve me physically—dancing, playing, singing. I like to feel the rhythm, follow the melody, and add my harmony. The louder the better sometimes. And to stand quietly still and just sing quiet songs sometimes just seems so inadequate by comparison for praising the Almighty Creator of the Universe. But sometimes quiet songs are ok, too. Even in a quiet song, like when I’m at the keyboard, I’m pouring out my praise in lulling and singing strings, whirring organ, or ringing bells. Magic is maybe the wrong word but it’s the best I have for describing what happens when notes collide in just the right way. My spirit rings out with those notes and I feel lifted up to God.
The reality is that what’s happening in those incredible moments of close encounters with God has very little to do with the volume level of the world around me. In the starkness of silence, my heart can be screaming. In the screaming of guitars, my heart can find peace. Go figure. Whatever is happening on the outside is tremendously less important than what’s happening on the inside where God is working on our hearts.
* This was originally posted on the Krabbe worship blog January 2013. I'm reposting it today because I was reminded of it yesterday.