A few years ago a guy was being interviewed at our church and said this:
If you talk to God, that’s perfectly normal. But if you say you’ve actually heard from Him – well – then you’re crazy!
We all laughed.
It wouldn’t be crazy. It would be outstanding!
If you want to hear from God, you have to make time to do nothing.
That’s right. Nothing. Stillness and Silence. Probably the two most difficult concepts to practice in today’s culture.
There is just too much to do. And to much to listen to. I don’t know about you, but my to-do list is plenty long. (And with three kids, the likelihood of getting through it is not too high.) There is always something I should be doing at home, a blog post I should be writing, a phone call I should be making, or a church event I should be attending.
Should. (I hate that word.)
Last fall, something big happened. I didn’t know it was going to be big. But it was. Huge. Our church announced a new sermon series. (Wait…the huge part is coming.) Our pastor asked us to have all our small groups read and discuss a book. Each Sunday, the message would be based on a chapter.
The book? Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presenceby Ruth Haley Barton. A book on solitude and silence? Seriously?
For three months, we dove in. Monday nights at small group. Sunday mornings at church. Each morning on my couch. And it was huge.
This post is not a book review (but you should get it). It is about what happens when we slow down enough truly be still and know… More specifically, questions about hearing God’s voice that can only be answered with stillness…solitude…silence.
Is it possible to know who you are if you never hear from the One who made you?
There is so much noise around you. So many voices. They tell you who you are. What you should look like. What you need to be happy. What you deserve. (I hate that word too.)
Some of these voices are just fine. Most are lies. And they are loud.
When I head down to my couch in the very early morning and just sit, the voices aren’t so loud. When “those” voices are quieted, God’s voice is easier to hear.
I have learned that – most of the time – God is not a shouter.
In the quiet you will hear His voice reminding you who you are. You are loved. You are forgiven. You are a work in progress. You are worth dying for.
Is it possible to hear if you never listen?
You know the answer to this question. But do you listen?
Let me put it this way: If you listened to your spouse the same way you listen to God, what would his/her response be?
When Kari has something to tell me, she wants me to stop what I’m doing. Put down the book. Turn off the TV or music. Look at her. And listen. If I’m talking, I’m not listening. (She has to remind me of that more than I’d like to admit.)
She wants me to do nothing. To say nothing. To just sit and listen. And she’s right.
I will write more next week about some of the lessons I have learned and challenges I have faced in trying to develop this habit of silence and stillness. It’s not easy. In fact, especially early on, it’s really hard.
For today, find even 10-15 minutes. Turn of the radio. Turn off the phone (not on vibrate). Turn off the TV. Put down the Bible and journal. (You can pick them up later.) And just be silent and still.
Then do it again tomorrow.
Questions: Is silence and stillness part of your daily rhythm? What are the loudest voices that surround you? Do you think hearing from God is even possible?
Photo Credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net – Evgeni Dinev
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