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John Ortberg on the Importance of Spiritual Weaning

Stillness is always a prerequisite for receptivity. Telephones and television sets cannot receive messages when they are too filled with static and noise. Stillness first, then listening. The order cannot be reversed. "Be still, and know that I am God," quotes the psalmist.

One of the most powerful expressions of this is found in Psalm 131:

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high ….
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.

An unweaned child is a noisy child. The unweaned child has learned that eventually noise leads to the satisfaction of its desires. Even if it doesn't, the noise itself appears to bring some relief. Or at least it makes others as miserable as the unweaned one.

The weaned child, however, has learned that the presence of the mother is about more than the immediate gratification of desire. The weaned child has become capable of stillness. The weaned child can have a whole new form of communication with the mother. The weaned child has entered into a whole new relationship with its mother. Now the mother is more than simply one who exists to satisfy need, to take away hunger. The mother can become a person, not just a need-meeter.

There is a catch, of course. Weaning is not a popular process. At least, not for the [one being weaned]. Children rarely volunteer for it because it is both costly and painful. Weaning means learning to live in stillness with unfulfilled desires. It is the mark of maturity.

The psalmist says this is a picture of my soul. I have learned to still my heart. There has been a spiritual weaning process so that I am no longer at the mercy of my desires and reflexes and demands. God is becoming more than just the Meeter of My Needs. I am entering into a new era listening. I have stilled my soul.

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