I was an avid hunter prior to moving to Illinois. Living in Virginia, I would often head to the mountains to enjoy this recreation of choice. Since moving here, I have had many invitations to go hunting; however, my time was limited to these types of enjoyments due to balancing my responsibilities. Though I loved the sport, the venison stew, and the thrill of accomplishment when riding home with the prize – the thing I miss most during the months of November through January is the quietness one experiences while sitting and waiting in the woods.
I love every opportunity I get to break away while I am traveling and find a patch of woods and navigate to a quiet place with my Bible in hand to enjoy the sounds of nature. It brings delight to my soul and joy to my ears to hear nothing but squirrels walking, deer feeding, or a bird landing on a branch 40-feet away. Silence is truly golden! I leave the woods with the stillness of the forest refreshing my mind. What a treasure!
It seems our “iPod” wearing culture has truly forgotten what it is like to be silent. It is “normal” to almost always hear a television or stereo blaring nearly everywhere you go. Most airports I frequent have a quiet lounge area; however, I recently noticed one airport exchanged this area with a “cell phone use” so as to not bother the people watching the televisions in the two adjacent areas. So, instead of a quiet area and two noisy areas, they now have three noisy areas!
God often speaks to us in the silence. David said that he waited in silence for God. Psalm 62:5 “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” The constant temptation in a time of growing crisis is to be “up and doing”. Inactivity seems to be the worst possible policy. “Do something, anything! Don’t just sit there! Do something!” That is Satan’s advice to the soul. Satan uses high pressure tactics. He is the one who urges us to act impulsively and prayerlessly. Occasionally, of course, the Holy Spirit will prompt an exercised, sensitive believer to do something on the spur of the moment, but that is not His usual way. He gives us time to be still. Be still is just plain old good advice to anyone in a crises.
Jesus often sought the Father in the silence of the wilderness as recorded in Luke 5:16, as did others in the Bible. Unfortunately, most people run from silence today. Researching this topic of silence and noise, I came upon an article written by Joshua Birk in Breakpoint.org where he writes, “Noiselessness is so unsettling because … we are afraid of the answers that might pounce on us.” He goes on to say, that venturing into silence “is both counter-intuitive and counter-cultural. Yet it makes perfect sense to a God Who loves to speak in whispers to make sure we are listening.”
He continues with these words, “Silence paralyzes modern man. Take out the iPod ear buds, turn off the cell phone, unplug the television, and we just might be able to hear it-that crippling hush that frightens us. As Henri Nouwen writes in Reaching Out, ‘When we have no project to finish, no friend to visit, no book to read, no television to watch . . . and when we are left all alone by ourselves we are brought so close to the revelation of our basic human aloneness and are so afraid of experiencing an all-pervasive sense of loneliness that we will do anything to get busy again and continue the game which makes us believe that everything is fine after all’.”
Silence paralyzes us because it is during times of silence that we are most often reminded of our deep-seated loneliness. Is this why our culture is so afraid of “noiselessness” and the answers it might bring? Can it be that in our media-overloaded society we have just forgotten what it is like to experience the joy of silence? Perhaps it is just not practical for most people to go off into the wilderness these days and find a quiet spot. (This, however, is something I plan to do again in 2011!) But you can find a spot where you can sit in silence and listen…
Psalm 46:10a, “Be still, and know that I am God…”. Do you have a regularly scheduled “quiet time” with God?? Or are you afraid of what He might actually say?? Though I dearly love my quiet times in the woods, I have continued to carve out a few moments of time (regularly) to find some quiet place, created by my God, and relish in those moments with Him. Sometimes, I cannot get outside, but I can turn off the radio or CD player in my car on my weekly trip to the airport alone, and let God speak to me as I ride silently. Perhaps, today, leave the T.V. off, turn off the radio, leave the iPod in a drawer…and let God speak in the quiet moments of your day.