Being still is no easy task nowadays. Life in 2014 seems to be far more hectic and chaotic than ever. Work, the household chores, running the kids around, fulfilling all those important commitments.
We all seem to be on the go from the moment we get up to the moment we go back to bed. It just seems there is always something to do. Not only is life hectic and chaotic it’s also much louder than ever. What with the TV and the radio blasting out all the time, the kids making them self heard, always seeming to have a point to make about something, and most people tend to live on the phone talking to the world and his wife. Talking in the house, chatting as they walk to work, as they drive. Then there’s the noise at work, in the park, with all the traffic. You go to sit in the garden for a bit of solitude and the neighbours decide to crank up their petrol lawn mower… and the list goes on and on. Oh yes, if life is anything in the twenty first century – it’s hectic, hectic, hectic, chaotic, chaotic, chaotic and noisy, noisy, noisy!
The point I’m making is this; it’s no easy task finding a still quite place in this frantic world of ours. There always seems to be someone or something that wants to disturb us and gate crash a piece of our time.
It was Thomas Merton who said, “When we are busier than what God requires we do violence to ourselves. To allow ones self to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything – is to succumb to being violent to yourself, it ends up killing the root of your inner wisdom that makes life and work fruitful.”
I wonder if you can recall what happened to the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-12. This is what it says…
“The Lord said, “go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”
When God appeared to Elijah after his flight from Jezebel and during his suicidal depression, He told him to stand and wait for the presence of the Lord to pass by. God did not appear in ways he had showed up in the past. He did not speak in the wind as He did with Job, God was not in the earthquake as He was on Mount Sinai with the giving of the 10 Commandments. Neither was God in the fire as He was with the burning bush with Moses. God revealed himself to Elijah in a sound of sheer silence (See 1 Kings 19:12). The translation of God coming in ‘a still small voice’ does not quite capture the original Hebrew language that this text was written in. But what could be said, what could the translators do? How do you hear and how do you describe the sound of sheer silence? The translators did their very best and described it as a whisper – a still small voice.
The silence after the chaos for Elijah and for us is full of the presence of God. God speaks to Elijah in the midst of the silence.
And just like Elijah – God invites us; me and you to stand and wait like Elijah. Why? He also wants you to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). He wants to speak to you out of the sound of silence.
So here’s the question, when are you going to set aside an extended, uninterrupted time of silence to hear God?