SILENCE: Reflecting & Listening
“Jonathan, I have a discipline I want you to practice…do you know what that is?” My DUS instructor said to me after class one day
I raised my eyes, then looked back at the ground, I knew exactly what it was…
I shared with you in my earlier blog post entitled “Discover of Noise” that I am a loud person. I enjoy noise, I have music on right now as I’m typing this article on Silence. I had spent a lot of time hearing about this discipline, even read about it in George’s book about a month earlier but it was never one I was very good at. That morning Greg challenged me to spend a week in silence, I remember walking back into my apartment and slamming my fist down on the counter, who was he to tell me to spend a week in silence.
Then I stopped and I prayed “God is you want me to do this then let me know and I’ll do it”…I didn’t like God’s answer. I decided to obey though, knowing deep down that this would be good for me, how good I didn’t know, but somehow it would be good. I made it through the first two days, but on the third I woke up extremely depressed. Now I know I couldn’t talk, so I couldn’t tell anyone, this was God’s preparation for that time in the Labyrinth that I’ve described so many times.
Silence serves two main purposes within the Christian Walk; Reflecting and Listening. These two purposes help us move closer to God and allow Him to work out the things in our lives that we are not letting Him work out as well as knowing who God is and what His will for us is in our lives.
Reflecting on a Holy God
Christian George writes; “The discipline of silence is a natural reaction of God’s holiness. When we get a glimpse of who God is we find that His voice is deeper than out own. His words are worth listening too” (Godology, 62).This is certainly true, Isaiah gets to see God’s holiness and glory on full display in 6:1-7 and the only thing he can say is “Woe is me, for I am lost, I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell amongst a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the Lord of Hosts” (v. 5 ESV).
Silence is humbling, as is God’s Holiness. I don’t think any of us would react differently to what Isaiah is describing if we were in the same situation. Another example would be driving through a thunderstorm, I find that the scarier the storm the quieter I tend to get, storms show us God’s power. So a few weeks ago as we were driving home from Formal I watched the sky in silence, occasionally offering something to the conversation, watching for one of the many Tornado’s we’d heard about.
In those times of silence we really get to reflect and think about God’s Holiness. It gives us a chance to think about God’s awesome power, even looking back to see God’s power in our lives. I love to sit and think back on that Labyrinth experience, think about how I encountered God on that mountain and how it has forever impacted and changed my life. I also think back to my salvation, on a cold concrete floor in Cleveland Ohio and how God has been working since then. In these times of Silence I get to really know God and His works, but I also get to listen.
Listening to a Holy God
Listening is really hard, especially if we need to listen to instruction or to directions, listening to God is even tougher at times because He isn’t physically manifesting Himself before us. As much as I wish we could, we don’t get that Isaiah like moment where we get to stand before the most Holy God and hear Him audibly talk to us.
Instead we have to come to a place where we have quieted our spirits, to a place where like the psalmist we can wait on the Lord (see Ps 130-131). In a world that is constantly screaming at us this kind of quieting our spirits can be even harder. We have to shut off the music, turn off the laptops, get away from our cell phones and forsake our social lives for a little while and really get away.
There’s a reason Jesus told the disciples “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6 ESV). Silence requires us to go away for a while, Jesus does this multiple times, most often coming back with some where new for His Disciples to go.
Coupling Silence and Prayer:
Silence and prayer are two Disciplines I believe should go together, when we pray we should be seeking, but seeking comes to fruition when we are quiet after that time. It’s so easy to pray and then get right back to our lives, but if we pray and listen than we have a better understanding of our mission and of God’s direction for our lives.
Why is Silence so Hard?
Christian George gives us a bit of wisdom in seeking to answer this question. He tells us; “we react to it violently sometimes, our own silence is an X-Ray machine and we don’t like what we are – Loneliness, emptiness, insecurity. We fill up the hollow moments with noise. We blast the radio, blast the TV, Phone our friends. Why? To avoid the deafening roar within.” (Godology)
We won’t but George is absolutely right on this point, Silence forces us to deal with the things that we hold back. They come to the surface and we don’t want to encounter them, like Isaiah’s sinfulness was exposed in comparison to the glory of God so are sinfulness and strongholds are brought to the surface in those times. The kneejerk reaction of course is to run as fast we can the other way; the challenge is to of course not to.
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So this is what it comes to, to sit in silence before God, reflecting and listening. This is a challenging and frightening discipline, but as I discovered at the end of my week of silence it is extremely rewarding as it allows God to draw close to us and us to draw close to Him. Once those things it exposes are worked through we will find ourselves in a much better place, a quieter place.
God Bless You
10:31 Life Ministries