It’s been months since I wrote that title. That word is hard to follow with anything profound, or even just something worth saying. I’ve found that a lot lately. Often what I say isn’t worth saying, it’s just filling “air time” it seems. So often we seem afraid of silence. It becomes awkward, we feel we have to get rid of it somehow, that it is a negative thing to experience. In fact, some people even use it as punishment for others, refusing to talk to them. But what is it really?
The absence of noise?
Looking at these words and phrases I would think I should look forward to silence.
Lately, I have been struggling with the Lord because I’ve felt that He’s been silent. Questions that I have been asking Him have seemed to hang in the air. I’m used to quick responses, not always what I want, but usually quick. He’s allowed me some level of discernment to see Him work, hear Him speak. But lately it’s just been all me. And even then, I can’t seem to come up with any suggestions to give Him to answer my questions. (that in itself is highly unusual for me, I can almost always have a way to ‘fix’ a problem or give Him a solution while I pray) But this season has been different and it’s caused me incredible stress. I feel like I’ve done something terribly wrong, He’s done speaking to me, I’m abandoned, worthless, rejected.
I know, none of those things fit with scripture, but the silence is such a departure for me. I’ve been struggling to hear Him when I read the Word, at church, Bible study. Where is He?
But then I look at those synonyms again. Absence of noise. How I long for that. Currently I live in a house that is so loud. We are downtown, there is a busy coffee shop across the street, two parking lots on either side of the house, and a driveway to a grocery store where all the delivery trucks pull up in front of our house every morning. I have heard more lover’s arguments, car’s bass amps, backup warning beeping on trucks and car alarms than I ever care to remember. Some days I just long for when the Lord will allow us to move to somewhere quiet, without noise. Silent.
Stillness. Again, something I long for, even beg the Lord for sometimes. I am so busy at times in the ministry He has called me to. My job entails mostly interruptions. The things I plan in a day are often done late at night because of what others that serve with me need during the day. I feel that I am running from one thing to the next, one meeting to another, sometimes fire to fire, and when I’m not running my mind still is trying to solve or at least anticipate the next problem. I long for stillness, to sit on the couch, to sleep in without a clock, to allow my mind to stop. I have found that in this season, I was living for the next break, the next possible day off, or finally a retreat away from the busyness. To be still.
Peace. Last year I spent several weeks memorizing scriptures about peace. I looked up the greek and hebrew words, all the times it occurs in the Bible. It was something I knew I was lacking in my life. I could, in the busyness and noise, allow myself to get spun around by the simplest of events. A slight change in plans could send my heart racing, my emotions off the chart. I begged the Lord for His peace that passes all understanding, I begged Him to guard my heart and mind.
But what did I receive as I cried out for these things? For an absence of noise, stillness and peace? SILENCE.
When I started to write this I was just starting to get it. I was sitting in a sun room at a friend’s home in North Carolina. It was about midnight and I was all alone, listening to the trees sway in the wind. The crickets chirping all around the back yard. A full moon was slipping in and out of the clouds. I wasn’t moving, the silence sounded beautiful. I closed my eyes and just listened. Soaked in the sounds of God’s answer to my prayers.
It’s not that He allowed me to get 18 hours away from normal life, it’s not that He sent me on vacation as an answer to my prayer, it’s that He was letting me see that He’s been answering me the whole time. All those months of struggle, He’d been answering me. He’d been showing me what a lack of noise is, what stillness is, what peace is.
Psalm 46:10 says, “be still and know that I am God”. or in the NASB “cease striving and know that I am God.” Perhaps that is silence. I don’t need to give Him the answers when I pray, I don’t need to know how He’s going to fix it, I don’t need to see Him at work, I just need to BE. And to know that He is God, and He can do all things! I can not. But He can.
Will I ever truly be able to grasp that? It’s not about me doing anything, praying more, serving more, reading my bible more, talking to others about Him more… I can’t do any of it, He doesn’t need me to. I am just to “BE”. He’s God, He’ll take care of it. If I can just rest in that and enjoy the moments of silence. To know that He’s sitting beside me, like a close friend that I don’t have to fill the silence by talking, but I can just BE with and it’s enough. Is it possible that the God of the universe just wants to be with me? Not do anything, not even say anything… just be?
The greatest joy of vacations for me is just being with my best friends. Other people would probably be terribly bored with us, we don’t do much. Make meals, swim, lay on the beach. That’s it. But the best part is who I am doing “nothing” with. Could God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit want to sit with me? Why He would, I couldn’t tell you, I have a bit of a suspicion that it has to do with that scandalous love He seems to have for wretches like me. Cease striving. Be still. Silent.
The noise of it almost shatters the ear my chest aches from its vibrations my breath catches and i can’t breathe
it echos and yet there is nothing to hear, nothing to listen to, to act upon Just an empty pit, leading to despair as the silence seems to deafen me
I cry out but the sounds just ring back in my ears the sobs that wrack my body are hollow they simply steal what peace i might have had
Exhaustion sets in and even the cries stop, tears are gone shallow breathing is all i can manage and then I hear it.
When i stop, i can finally hear the trees, the wind the birds life peace.
Was it just my noise that stopped my ears? Was He speaking all of this – all the time? Cease striving… then i can hear, once i am still Its echos aren’t to be feared, but embraced nothing to do just be. Silent.