Since I was raised in a large family, we learned to speak loudly to be heard, interject ourselves into conversation to be noticed and demand attention in order to be acknowledged. Since all my other siblings were older and male, this became a competitive challenge. So, I never equated being quiet with being confident. Usually, the more confident I felt, the louder I became.
When I was in university, this verse of scripture became very meaningful to me:
"In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."I initially believed this meant that I should keep silent and act confident. "Act confident and confidence will come," one co-worker often coached me. Unfortunately, with my rather staunch opinion, neither of these qualities lasts. I can zip my lip only so long.
And what am I confident about? What I know? Someone always knows more. My talents? There are such talented people in the world, there will always be someone more gifted than I. Experience? Rather limited in some quarters. Reputation? That can be lost in a moment, through one bad choice. Circumstances? Can we say "change happens?" Possessions? Money markets are fickle, thieves target, fire and flood destroy without partiality. Popularity? Ask any celebrity how long that lasts.
So I can't be quiet, and my confidence has shaky foundations. However, as time and circumstance wear away like an ocean tide, smoothing the edges and chips on this ancient rock, I have begun to see a glimpse of the wisdom of this verse, if my confidence is properly placed. My sanity depends on it.
The "quietness" in this verse is not an adjective of "confidence." They both stand alone. Both are required for strength. How quiet should I be? Is this only about the decibel level of my words or is this about my physical posture? Do I need to sit quietly?
"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10Or is this about waiting on the Lord?
"Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and he shall strengthen thy heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord." Psalm 27:14In preparing to post this blog, I wanted to have the correct chapter and verse for "in quietness and confidence." There I had my surprise. It's in Isaiah 30 and the context is about spiritual rebels. Read it in full:
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:"You would have none of it." What a shudder went through me. The consequences followed. They chose their own escape, and they ran like weaklings at the whisper that five pursuers might be headed their way. The result is that there is nothing left of them. Total breakdown.
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,”
but you would have none of it.
You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
A thousand will flee at the threat of one;
at the threat of five you will all flee away,
till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill.”
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
"You're a flagpole on a hill with no flag, a signpost on a roadside with the sign torn off." (verse 18, The Message)So what is the formula for strength, not fear? For learning how to live day to day in this crazy, ever changing world with calmness and over-arching confidence? The Lord said it at the beginning: repentance, rest, quietness and trust. All based in a God of justice who longs to be gracious to you.
It's a simple A + B = C formula:
Quietness of heart + Confidence in God = Strength for the wild journeyThe God of the universe longs to be gracious to me? If I accept that, instead of my human response: rebel, run away, numb my fear with the drug of the day, or work until I drop to attain recognition and praise, for what? I'm simply striving to obtain what I have already been given. If I wait for Him, the end result is clear: I receive salvation and strength, compassion and blessing.
Of that, I am quietly confident. How about you?