In the stillness I chose for this morning, I think of her: that excellent teacher who could enter a classroom and within one or two minutes gain the silent, undivided attention of every pupil there. Time after time.
Watching her taught me much: for my own teaching then, for motherhood later—and even today for experiencing and learning from God…
What a wondrous phenomenon: that roomful of fidgety sixth-graders settling into silent, complete, rapt attention—and not just suppression of outward behavior with minds yet jumpy inside. No, order reigned not only in the classroom but also within each child.
What she did was wisely simple. And it occurs to me this morning that God does the same wise, simple thing.
In silence she’d take her place before the class, then stand in silence and look out over them. She spoke not a word.
One by one they subdued their chatter, quit their whispers, quieted their restless movements.
She remained silent, looking on. With deliberate eyes she noted the fingers fiddling with a pencil, the hands probing a desk’s interior, the restless head turning, distracted by every bulletin board, the hand lifted toward a mouth to bite a fingernail.
Giving only a calm, knowing look—still she uttered not a word—till all the nervous motion ceased, all bodies stilled, all eyes focused expectantly on her, all ears obviously tuned in.
Excellent learning followed—partly, of course, because of her lessons’ excellent content. But that settling into such receptive state was integral to how such good learning happened.
God is like that, is He not? Most excellent of teachers, He tells us to look to, call on, wait for Him, for His Holy Spirit, Who “will lead us into all truth” and “teach us all things.” Trying to learn by mere human effort, we are but fidgety children, gaining only what rude, unregenerate minds could figure out from the text or sermon or circumstance through which the great Teacher waits to teach.
He is ever ready to instruct us. Yet to learn what only His Spirit within us can discern (1 Cr 2:6-16;2 Cr 1:21-22), we must, I must, be settled, fully attuned. The fidgety flesh, the too-human mind, must come to stillness. Then, when He has our full attention, He will teach something wonderful, mighty, life-changing and -enhancing.
“Be still, and know…” He says (Ps 46:10). “Cease striving…” (Ps 46:10 NASB). Come to a standstill, without and within.
God waits to be heard.