A Quiet Life

Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands… 1 Thessalonians 4:11

A former prison inmate once told me that the worst part of prison, for him, was the inability to control his environment; he lived in continuous clamor and light.

Mother Teresa reportedly said, “God is the Friend of silence . . . He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grow in silence. See the stars, the moon and sun move in silence.”

Part of the majesty of God is revealed in how His great works take place in hushed tranquility. He moves large balls of enormous weight through the universe or drops tons of snow on the earth, all in muted splendor. Prairie sod, crops, and forests grow, and eagles soar and great rivers flow . . . without a sound.

Maybe prisons are prophetic; today we all seem to live in harsh lighting and jarring noise that is pervasive and perpetual.

How did we get here? Like any prisoner, we embraced a “promising” idea or temptation. Then, as we slipped deeper into the relationship, the object of our affection suddenly slammed its steel jaws around us.

We wanted wealth and we wanted security, fame and privacy, intimacy and anonymity, leadership and selfishness. Together. We wanted to sow and not reap. And various tools — technology, politics, media, and religion — promised that we could have things that had always been mutually exclusive. They said we could suspend the Golden Rule; we could do unto others what we would never want for ourselves.

For example, Facebook (not the only, and perhaps not the worst, offender) flirted with us, using the idea that we could find meaningful (even intimate) and no-risk connection with other humans. It would build a safe road through our raging insecurities and the badlands of relationships. We could really express and market ourselves, preach and proselytize, and possibly recover our youth. Hands went up, “Yes, I’ll buy that.”


We did not get the safety and recovered youth, but we did get streaming noise, drama, the invasion of our privacy, and (some say) new addictions. A government agent told a recent law enforcement academy, “I’m telling everyone I know to get off Facebook. NOW.” Why? Sophisticated software has given criminals the same tools used by law enforcement. They find vulnerabilities and move into them.

A recent article about the capacity of “smart” TVs to spy on their owners warned that we “might be careful about what they say or do in the device’s presence.” Why would anyone tolerate (much less, buy) a box that violates your privacy and then sells what it learned about you to others so they can transgress you further?

I like and use high-tech tools; I don’t have seizures about technology. But the gadget is not the problem; humans are. And I’m not convulsed about that. I’m just trying to build a buffer between me and those who use the Internet, GPS systems, cell phones, phishing, computer malware and spyware, photo sharing, and other tools to take stuff from me.

Bottom line: Our trust has been violated. After all, we paid for those things; they weren’t a gift and we didn’t negotiate a better price. They slapped a price on the screen and we said, “Sold!”

Clearly, a promise has become a prison.

A couple thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul told Thessalonian Christians (and us) to “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, mind your own business, and work with your hands.”

Joanne and I live in a peaceful habitation. But, in 2013, we’re going to step further into the quiet (which means further away from sources of noise, anxiety, and restlessness). We don’t know the details, but if you look around familiar places and realize you can’t find us, just remember that we still want to meet with our friends whenever possible.

But instead of virtual meeting places, let’s sit on the porch, in a bar or on bales of hay.

4 thoughts on “A Quiet Life”

  1. Steve Van Buskirk

    I am rapidly approaching retirement. I enjoy my job, enjoy significant compensation and benefits and could probably continue working as long as I wish. Yet, I will likely retire within a few months.
    I have prayed about this, consulted by spouse and attempted to evaluate exactly why I wish to retire. I don’t wish to quit working. I have no desire to fish, play golf, etc. I’m not burned out – I love the people who work for me and have no problems with those I serve. After many months of trying to discover my primary motivation, I am settling on a strong desire to escape the clamor of the daily grind, the constant questions, requests and the “noise” of regular, required human interaction. I long to sit quietly, without any time frame, and allow God to do whatever He wishes with me and my thoughts. I long to truly wait on God without restraint.
    In recent years, I have enjoyed the writings of Richard Foster. Mr. Foster is a Quaker and although I am not ready to become a Quaker, I am fascinated with their concept of prayer and, specifically, waiting on God. I truly believe and want more than almost anything to experience the scripture that says, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall rise up as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” I want to wait on God until I experience the manifestation of that word. I don’t believe that is possible when I find I have so little control over my own time.

  2. Hi Ed,

    Your article hit me on several points. First, I love the text quoted from Thess. It states worthy goals for a spiritual man. Good to be reminded.

    I am also working more in the Jackson County Jail, which is always loud. Its a great harvest field for the gospel, but the brash sounds & attitudes there are abrasive to my soul.

    I love nature’s beauty and its witness of God’s transcedence of this noisy world. Hey, I’m a gardner of veggies & flowers. It’s part of my old man persona.

    I have modest addictions to technology, especially my iphone. OK, perhaps, mildly severe addiction 🙂
    And I am painfully aware of the business & government intrusive monitoring of my privacy for nefarious purposes,i.e., Brave New World and 1984 scenarios.

    Funny thing, I read your article while sitting in the IHOP prayer room, the most mediatative, public place I know. Sometimes the room is rambunctious, but mostly meditative, like right now. The presence of God is streaming like sunlight through the worship and meditative atmosphere. Your words helped me appreciate it.

    Here’s another favorite of mine on the subject.

    Prov. 17, “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting and strife.”

    Bless you Ed. Live long and propsper! Say hi to Joanne. Hal

  3. Ed, I always enjoy your posts. The recent election did more for me than I know to say. Can you believe it, God would let that liberal abortion promoting, blah, blah, blah, get re-elected. Yeah…He did. The recognition that somehow God’s plans and visions are so much bigger than I can see, and trusting that He is in control brings a peace on me that does pass understanding. There are forces formed against us that I can’t do much about, but God laughs at them. If He is laughing at them why should I be worried. If we truly believe that “all things work out for good to those who love the lord and are called according to his purpose,” then what do we have to fret about. Even the slow car in front of us shouldn’t get us bent out of shape. It’s a funny thing, we get upset when sinners act like sinners. What else should we expect them to do, they’re sinners. God will take care of them in His own time and He will take care of us in His own time. “Fret not it tends toward evil.” Ps. 37:8

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top