Posts Tagged ‘Silence’

Today, I had lunch with a professor from Nazarene Theological Seminary, Dr. Doug Hardy.  He teaches in the area of spiritual disciplines.  We had an intriguing conversation concerning practices in the Church.  I asked him what he thought is a need in the Church that has been forgotten or left out, with the understanding that each church has different needs.  He suggested that perhaps we need to recapture silence and the capacity to wait on the Lord.  I thought this was insightful, especially considering that we live in a culture of entertainment, distraction, and disconnection.  We are extremely fragmented.  Go into any restaurant and they’re likely to have music blasting or a television turned to a game.  Our cellphones are our constant companions.  So much so, that we would rather text the person sitting next to us rather than engagement them in actual conversation.  I don’t feel that I’m overly exaggerating the situation, even within the Church.

I wondered out loud if this absence of silence and waiting upon the Lord – opening space up for God – is the reason for the lack of genuine discourse and Christian conference.  We are combative and quick to demonize those we disagree with.  Not to mention, we are not likely to listen and really hear the other’s position – especially if it is opposed to our position.  My rambling concluded with this point: If we’re not willing to listen to God, then what makes us think we’ll listen to people.  If we are not cultivating space in which to listen to God, is it any surprise that we are unable to have charitable discourse among ourselves?  I ask this question of myself and have to look honestly for ways to open up space, to provide places of silence – to be still recognize who is Lord… even in the midst of difficult, challenging conversations.

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The silence is deafening.  No mighty wind, no earthquake, no fire… just silence.  Sabbath and silence.  “Be still, and know that I AM God.”  Why is it that I find the silence so difficult to dwell in?  It could be that the culture around me saturates itself with busyness and sound and activity.  But, I am coming more to realize that this is not even the issue.

The difficulty with Sabbath and silence is that I have to come to terms with myself.  I come face-to-face with myself, with my finitude, with my creature-ness.  My world is re-oriented… but not around me.  I find that I am lacking, insufficient, and inadequate.  In short, I’m not God.  I have come to the end of myself and have entered fully into the silence.  It is in this silence that I hear the still small voice.  “Be still, and know that I am God.”

In the fire of that silence, I am changed, purified, and humbled.  I am creature, fully human.  It is not because of what I do but because of who God is.  Like Moses, I find myself on holy ground in the middle of the mundane desert of life..  Like Isaiah, I find myself a sinful man in the midst of a sinful world needing God’s transformative work in my life.  And, all too often, I find myself like the disciples sleeping while I should be praying.

To be honest, silence is difficult to enter into fully because there is always the probability that God will reveal Himself and may change us.  We drown out the still small voice, hoping to muffle the call of the Holy One.  Change is rarely something we chase after and accept willingly.  We inundate ourselves with noise and activity because to enter in Sabbath silence means we might meet God and be called to a new life.

But, we are comfortable with the old way.  We want to be God.  We want to call the shots.  We want to be in control.  But, it is only when we recognize our created-ness and center our lives upon our Creator that we become fully human and fully present.  It is only in this that we become truly free.  Sabbath re-orients us, reminding us of who we are and Whose we are.  We leave the noisy productivity of Egypt and walk into a desert dependence upon God.