It’s not surprising, considering out environment… How quiet is the space you’re in, right now?
How much music is there?
How loud is the traffic?
Is the TV on?
Do we even know what “silence” is? (Never mind what it can actually do in our lives).
A few months ago, I was blessed to be able to spend 2 days in silence and solitude. Don’t get me wrong it was really pretty freaky at times (At times, I was the only person in the entire retreat facility: The Shining, anyone?)
But during those few days confirmed what I’ve been gradually learning more and more in my life:
Sometimes we just need to shut up.
I just noticed something recently about a familiar story. It’s about a guy named Elijah, and how God reveals himself to him. Through some stuff that happens, Elijah finds himself hanging out by himself in a cave, pretty beat up and at his wits’ end. God decides to show up:
The Lord said, “Go out and stand at the mountain before the LORD. The LORD is passing by.” A very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the LORD. But the LORD wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the LORD wasn’t in the earthquake. But the LORD wasn’t in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the LORD wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his coat. He went out and stood at the cave’s entrance. A voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?”
The thing that stood out to me is the description of the voice. In English we miss how small this “small voice” was. The Hebrew for small is a word that references the thickness of a hair or a grain of sand. One Rabbi said that the voice could be described literally as “a voice of silence.”
Easy to miss.
As Elijah is looking for something, the biggest and flashiest events that God can muster roll by him. But God isn’t there. And only when Elijah is quiet enough to hear the “voice of silence” can he come to the edge of the cave and hear what God wants to ask him.
So I have two questions for you:
1. What might God want to ask you?
2. Can you hear the voice of silence?
So many of us desire direction. So many of us are hungry to hear that centering Spirit, that voice. We are in caves, and we don’t want to be there.
We are waiting to be called.
But we also just won’t. stop. talking.
We muster our own wind, and earthquakes, and fires by the things we say about God, about what we want from him, when all the time He is waiting for us to just be quiet, so that we can hear that “grain-of-sand voice”.
Are you willing to be silent to hear God? Are you willing to trade your “earth, wind and fire” (never gets old, but just try to watch that video without smiling) for the voice of silence?
Oh yeah, and THIS.