Life is noisy. From the moment most of us wake up in the morning to the moment we go to bed our days are filled with noise, whether its the radio, the TV, our own thoughts, crowded restaurants, busy streets, hundreds of advertisements trying to sell us products, emails, texts, Facebook notifications, tweets, and the list goes on and on and on. Sometimes its not even the external world that is noisy: its our thoughts … our souls. We constantly worry and analyze and plan and think and consider and asses because we feel like the moment we stop moving or stop talking, the world will leave us behind. As noisy as the world is and as noisy as we are internally, sometimes its easy to go for long periods of time without having any silence …. any break from all the noise to reflect, listen, contemplate, and center ourselves…
One of the things Jesus taught and modeled is the lost discipline of silence & solitude. In fact, before he even began his public ministry he spent 40 days in the Judaen wildnerness in silence, alone, to listen to God. Luke tells us that Jesus ‘withdrew often to lonely places to pray.’ John the Baptist spent most of his life in the wilderness, in solitude and silence preparing for his preaching ministry. In Mark 6, after Jesus’ twelve disciples return from their ministry tour, he says “lets go off by ourselves to a quiet place to rest for awhile.” The Psalmist writes “be still, and know that I am God.” Another translation says “be quiet, and know that I am the Lord.”
As a Christian, I’m convinced that it is impossible to hear the voice of God when my life is filled with so much noise. That’s why this practice is so vital. Richard Foster wrote one time that “the purpose of silence and solitude is to be able to see and hear (Celebration of Discipline). I believe that God wants to speak to me, but I can’t hear unless I’m spending time away from the noise of the world, quieting my soul so as to hear what he has to say. Some of the most vivid moments of clarity in my life have come in moments of silence and solitude…these moments are the place where God meets us and transforms us.
Sometimes we’re afraid of silence because that is the place where we have to confront what many of us are most afraid of … ourselves. There are dangerous battles to fight in silence. We have to deal with the thoughts and the attitudes that are going on inside. We have to deal with the bottled up emotions and pain and frustrations and unrealized dreams. We have to recall hurtful memories and old wounds. We’re forced to deal with ourselves. But it is in that place of solitude that all of these impurities come to the surface, and it is there that Christ can heal them. That’s why silence is so vital in the Christian journey….
Solitude and silence is the place where God meets us. It is the place where He transforms us. Crave it. Cherish it. Seek it. Practice God’s presence in it. Let your heart be purified in it. Enter God’s rest in it….
“be still and know that I am God.‘ Ps. 46:10