I am currently in the midst of a fiery trial. The events of the past six months have tested my faith like never before. I had always heard about people going through storms like this one; I just never realized how bad it could get. Thanks be to God, all is not lost. I am not lost. The wind and the waves are finally abating. And I am thankful for the many valuable lessons I have learned throughout the ordeal.
One of these important lessons has been on the importance of silence.
Have you ever tried being silent for a few minutes? I don’t just mean closing your mouth. I mean being alone with yourself and really quieting your mind.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. In this digital age, our minds are conditioned to be constantly on the intake – we feed off of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, texts messages and much more – our troubled souls are somehow comforted (or numbed) by this never ending stream of news, gossip, and entertainment. Time slips by unaware; information helps us cope with boredom and loneliness.
So when we starve ourselves, even for a few minutes, from this information overload and take some time to hear ourselves think, we may find it difficult to focus. We may feel anxious and out of sorts. We may even reflexively reach for our phones, which hopefully, we have placed out of reach.
Yet if we can be still long enough to enter into a state of quietness, the results can be quite startling. Why? Because God will often find us in our thoughts; he will reveal himself within the inner recesses of our intellect. We just have to be quiet and still enough to hear it.
For the past few months I have taken time out of each day to sit in a quiet place, close my eyes, and empty my mind of all of the day’s distractions. Sometimes I start with meditating on a passage in Scripture or a favorite prayer. I make a conscious effort to block out any invading thoughts – and I focus on my breathing, which grows steadily softer as my mind slips into a state of meditation and contemplation.
By this time, some of the issues in my life causing me heartache may suddenly reappear in my consciousness. Yet now I am contemplating them, not despairing about them. I am seeing these obstacles from a much different angle and I am praying about them, even if my lips are not moving. They suddenly do not loom so large; somehow they are not in the same room with me. I am looking at these issues objectively.
Other times when I silence myself, a name will pop into my head. Perhaps someone whom I have not thought of in a long time – and I pray for that person and make a mental note to call them in the near future. Still other times, a good idea will present itself to me about a project or a relationship in my life.
All of this happens after I silence myself and allow my mind to let go of itself.
Growing up, I was taught that prayer was most efficacious when you spoke out loud to God. Tell him what you want, I was told. Don’t be bashful. Say it out so he can hear it.
Yet as I have traversed through this valley of darkness, I have found that spending time in silence is what most calms my soul and brings peace to my weary mind. So don’t be afraid of silence. Embrace it and listen for that still small voice which beckons you.
My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.