Our English word noise comes from the Latin word noxia, which means “injury or hurt.” The connection is easy to see. Noise pollution affects our physical and mental well-being, and it’s often detrimental to our spiritual health. Yet we’re surrounded by noise—blaring, jarring, clanging, clamoring commotion.
Thank God for quiet gardens! Whether it is a balcony with a flower pot or a sprawling national park, a garden is a great place to relax all five senses. There is no gentler sound on earth than the rippling of water in a small fountain or brook, or the rustling of trees in the breeze.
We can trace our origins back to a gorgeous garden planted “eastward in Eden” (Genesis 2:8). It was filled with bountiful fruit trees, irrigated by four rivers, scented by a million flowers, and studded with gold.
Gardens in History
Besides the Garden of Eden, the most famous garden in antiquity was designed by King Nebuchadnezzar around the year 600 B.C. Known as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, historians described it as a succession of roofed stone balconies billowing upward and overflowing with verdant vegetation.
Later, the Romans developed ornamental gardening to new levels and brought gardening into Great Britain. America’s love affair with gardens goes back to Mount Vernon and Monticello, both of which have beautiful gardens.
Perhaps you have a favorite spot in your town or city. Many people have backyards or balconies that create a quiet zone. Some have patios or sunrooms that do the same. To you and me, it’s peace and quiet. To the psalmist, it was green meadows and still waters. Whatever you call it, it’s essential for the soul.
In a library or classroom, we’re still because we have to be. In a garden, it’s because we want to be. It’s necessary for the soul. We need the still life. “Be still, and know that I am God,” commanded the Lord in Psalm 46:10, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Moses told the frantic Israelites at the Red Sea, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13).
During Ezra’s conference in Nehemiah 8:10-11, the Levites quieted the people, telling them, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength…. Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.”
The Psalms say, “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still…. Put your trust in the Lord…. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother” (Psalm 4:4-5 and 131:2).
I love the way it is written in this great promise from Isaiah: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).
This means we need a quiet mind. The older devotional writers often talked about cultivating a “quiet mind,” a mind that abides in Christ without fear, flurry, or fretting. Missionary Amy Carmichael wrote,
Lord, grant to me a quiet mind
That trusting Thee, for Thou art kind,
I may go on without a fear,
For Thou, my Lord, art always near.
We also need a quiet faith, and that sometimes means a quieter tongue. Instead of broadcasting our troubles to everyone, we need to commit them to God, share them with a prayer warrior or two, and calm ourselves in God’s all-sufficient grace. Better far to tell the Lord and leave our cares with Him in quiet faith, believing.
We need a quiet place, a garden whether literal or figurative. In this fast-track world, we need to find ways to slow down and hear the Lord say, “Shhhh!”
Do you have a quiet time? A quiet place? Are you ever still? Is there a garden spot within your heart? Writer Pearl Buck once confessed, “I love people. I love my family, my children. But inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.”
How important it is to find the still waters, to come apart and rest, to be still, and to know that He is God! If we don’t know how to do that, how can we find strength for the stresses of life? So slow down, be still a moment, and remember: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
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For a Christian to thrive in the current culture, it takes more than faith. It takes courage. Dr. David Jeremiah begins the series, Courage to Conquer, in order to help you grow in this important attribute-especially if you tend to react with fear to what’s happening in the world.