My life is filled with noise; sometimes I actually create the noise by turning on the TV or the radio. Many of us are addicted to the external stimulation with which we have become accustomed. I find many people are deathly afraid of being in silence, not having people or other sources of noise around them. I know that I often surround myself with noise, busyness, and distractions to avoid being with my own thoughts, my own sin, and my own internal pain (which we all have).
It is becoming clearer and clear to researchers that self-reflection and self-awareness are critical to health and the our ability to be in relationship with others, including God. The need to disconnect from the world and connect with the Holy Spirit, who lives within each of us, has not been a secret to those who have written about spiritual growth and the experience of having a personal relationship with Christ.
David himself, in Psalm 62 (ESV) writes in the midst of despair and brokenness:
“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.”
I recently experienced profound silence. I was actually with thirty other people; we are earnestly seeking God’s presence in our lives. We were together for several days and while most of these days were filled with talking and activity, we took time throughout each day to sit together in silence. We also set aside a day and a half for silent retreat. It was hard for me and many others to be silent for thirty-six hours, but after it was over, we all agreed that it had been an amazing experience. The time was individually amazing – God met each of us in our brokenness in ways that were meaningful only to us. However, sharing the silence with others was also incredible. The profound sense of the Lord in the silence and the incredible presence of the Holy Spirit throughout our remaining time together, amazed us. In the silence, God gave us a deep bonding and love for one another that words could not have enhanced.
I’m not ready to become a hermit and wall myself off from the world – God rarely calls people to this life. However, I left this recent experience with even more conviction that prayer time with the Lord that allows Him to speak into stillness is critical for me and for us as people of His kingdom. There is a deep longing in each of us that only He can fill and when our lives are filled to the brim with noisy activity, there is no room left for Him.
From Lamentations 3:28-33 (The Message)
“When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.
Why? Because the Master won’t ever
walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
in throwing roadblocks in the way.”
P.S. Seeking Stillness retreats are not silent retreats, but they are a means for developing more of an ability to be still with the Lord.