Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. –Jeremiah 1:5
I’m convinced that children intuitively know God. They aren’t afraid to talk with Him, about Him, or tell you stories that include Him. There is a place in their heart that is open to all things spiritual. I have experienced this in our own family and in others. One very intimate example was given by an author who shared, “A four-year-old girl was overheard whispering into her baby brother’s ear, “Baby,” she whispers, “tell me what God sounds like. I am starting to forget.”¹
Seeking God requires listening, and listening is hard work. It takes energy, patience, time, effort, and most of all, silence. And, while most of us are okay with the energy, patience, time, and effort piece, we shudder at the thought of being silent and quickly find ways of filling the widening void.
In silence, the hurts, pains, rejections, and failures we have pushed away come rushing back. In silence, the voices of those who have authority over us can seem to overpower us. In silence, worry and fear linger strangely near us. But consider the paradox offered by Mother Teresa, “God is the friend of silence.” Elijah learned this while hiding away in a cave. Expecting God to show Himself in loud and magnificent ways, Elijah was offered instead the still, small whisper of God. Psalm 46:10 reads, “Be still and know that I am God.” The truth is, things are born in quiet that cannot be heard in the din of our overly verbal days.²
Consider your day. Is it full of noise? Do radio, TV, Internet, smartphones, and other fillers clutter your mind with excess noise? Even good things can become clutter if they distract us from times of quiet.
Today, I challenge you to “unplug.” Leave the phone at home and take a walk. Resist the temptation to speak. Walk in silence and ask God to speak to you. Become aware of the small joys you may have forgotten, like the sound of children playing in the distance, the sound of a bird or squirrel chattering in a tree, or even listen to your own heartbeat.
Silence can be deafening. It can be threatening or even terrifying. But it can also be healing, purifying, life giving, and restorative.
Being content in silence takes practice. Try spending 5, 10, or even 15 minutes today in silence. Increase your time each day and keep a journal with you to record your experience.
Luke 5:16; 1 Samuel 3:1-10; 1 Kings 19:9-13
¹Robert Benson, Between the Dreaming and the Coming True (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997), p.55.
²Wayne Muller, Sabbath, Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest. Bantam Books, 1999.