Lights down. Check.
Decorations packed. Check.
Pine needles vacuumed. Check.
It’s official. Christmas is over, and a new year is upon us.
Every January brings us a fresh start. And we all love new beginnings. It’s a chance to reset, a chance to try again. But within a few weeks, maybe even days, we sometimes find ourselves back in the same old patterns—busier than ever while longing for quieter days.
Are you already feeling tired though the new year has barely begun
Feeling worn out from all the hoopla over resolutions and unmet goals
Wondering if it’s even possible to find sanctuary in a noisy and restless world?
As the world spins faster and louder each day, we can easily get swept up in the cultural current of trying to keep pace while wishing for a simpler path.
The good news is, you’re not alone. And the really good news is, God has not left us to fend for ourselves amidst a frenetic climate of hurry and hustle.
Leading a Quiet Life
In 1 Thessalonians 4:11, the apostle Paul encourages us “to seek to lead a quiet life” (CSB). Too often, though, I think we associate the idea of a “quiet life” with someone who is naturally quiet and reserved. But Paul himself was anything but the quiet type, so there’s something deeper at work here.
A quiet life isn’t a life of silence. It’s a life anchored in the quiet truths of who God is, who we are, and why we are here. Because a quiet life begins with a quiet heart, knowing that God is in control of everything. Cultivating a quiet life isn’t a trend or a brand; it’s a way of life that emanates from a soul committed to becoming more like Christ.
So, what can we do to cultivate a quiet life? Here are four questions to ask ourselves to help us grow a heart posture that steadies us as we move through each day with peace and purpose.
1. What steps am I taking to journey closer to the heart of God?
As I put away the nativity scene that occupied my living room in December, I couldn’t help but think about the wise men. They didn’t arrive in time for Jesus’ birth, for their journey spanned years.
And I wonder: Were they wise because they understood the significance of the new star in the sky? Or were they wise because of Who they journeyed toward?
Another story in the Bible says the Queen of Sheba undertook a long journey from Egypt to see King Solomon (1 Kings 10:1–13). She had heard of his renowned wisdom, and she traveled far to be in the presence of the wise.
You and I can be like the wise men and women of the past who took deliberate steps toward knowing more about the God of the universe. We do this by opening the pages of God’s Word daily, drinking from the fount of wisdom we find in Scripture to know God more.
2. What spaces am I preserving where I can simply just be?
In today’s busy world, it’s just too easy to fill up every calendar square with multiple commitments, which leaves us little time to be still and savor the silence of a quiet evening at home.
For our hearts to be quieted, we need space to breathe, space to be, and space to listen.
At the beginning of this new year, let’s remember that in the very beginning, God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth” (Gen. 1:6, NLT).
Notice the order of creation—after God separated the light from the darkness, he separated the waters. God made space. Then he created life—the birds and fish, as well as man and woman.
Space. Then life.
To cultivate a quiet life, we must be intentional about preserving space in our day and margin on our calendars in order for there to be room for genuine life.
3. What sources am I intentionally listening to (and not listening to)?
Our desire, of course, is to be shaped and formed by Scripture. At the same time, we also recognize how much the world vies for our attention, especially online places such as social media.
To be sure, cultivating a quiet life doesn’t mean we have to remove ourselves from the internet entirely, but it does mean we want to be selective about the sources we listen to on a daily or weekly basis.
So, we want to take an honest assessment of the voices we allow to speak into our lives. Do the voices we listen to—whether on the radio or online or somewhere else—point us to God and help us grow closer to him?
In the end, we want to reduce the noise in our lives, and we want to amplify the kinds of voices that echo John the Baptist, whose deepest heart’s cry was, “[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Indeed, this message is the opposite of what we hear in the world, but it is the desire of a heart that knows peace.
4. What sounds am I strategically eliminating throughout my day?
While a quiet life doesn’t mean a life absent of sound, a heart at rest will gladly welcome periodic respites of actual quiet. It’s part of the ebb and flow of life.
Naturally, there will be times when we are surrounded by people and it is good and right to engage, like after church on a Sunday morning. But then there will be other times when it’s also good and right to embrace moments of real silence and stillness.
To experience deep quiet, take an inventory of the sounds around you. Then turn off as many as possible. Let the serenity of the quiet wash over you. When we avoid the temptation to fill every moment with literal sounds, we find that God really does speak to us in a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12).
Cultivating a quiet life isn’t something we do one time and then move on to something else. It’s an ongoing journey, a daily working out of what Christ has worked in us. Then, as we grow more and more into Christ’s likeness, we become a light to those around us. We become witnesses to his goodness, truth, and beauty.
We won’t always get this right. Sometimes we will falter and fail. But every day is another opportunity for us to be living testimonies to the peace we find in Christ as our sanctuary.
Meet the Author
Denise J. Hughes is the author of Sanctuary: Cultivating a Quiet Heart in a Noisy and Demanding World. As an English teacher, she loves to teach books where life and literature connect, but her favorite book to teach is the one Book with living words. Denise enjoys quiet days at home in North Carolina with her husband, three nearly grown kids, and two pups who are convinced they’re humans with paws. You can connect with her at www.denisejhughes.com.