Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Why silence can speak volumes

Silence is anathema to many. 

Living in a continual buzz of noise and wall of sound have become the norm.

Many people cannot read or study without at least some music on to accompany it.

Having continual beeping technological machinery around us has become so commonplace it barely registers.

We can almost fear silence

It feels alien. Uncomfortable. Weird.

I used to feel that way. Any distraction was welcome. 

Anything to drown out the thoughts in my head that reminded me of a past I longed to escape from.

Keeping busy, busy, busy, was life to me.

Attention to spiritual things was perfunctory at best. God lived in a box marked 'Sundays only' and my bible sat gathering dust like the mould in my mind.

My inner life remained dry, empty and sterile, but the outer one was as full as I could make it...at least on the surface

All was brought to an abrupt halt when I succumbed to M.E and life as I knew it came crashing down.

Now there was time and quiet space to focus on what really mattered - knowing God intimately and addressing the painful issues from my past - and nothing else to hide in.

These days, I crave quiet (and dark) as welcome companions to ease stimulation on an overloaded, weary brain and nervous system that can only tolerate a fraction of what is perceived to be 'normal' noise and interaction.

Though we all need space just to be rather than to do so that we can rest fully in mind, body and spirit.

Sometimes we just have to deliberately switch off for our sanity's sake

You may ask:What happens when we do? Doesn't the silence itself drive you mad?

Actually, because of the general hub-bub of life going on around us, silence is far from free of sounds.

Our own hamster wheel of thoughts also tends to keep whirring round regardless.

Choosing to focus on hearing from God in the silence is rather like seeking the right radio wave frequency to listen to the station of our choice instead of the ones we don't want to hear.

And in exploring silence, we come to a place where one thing speaks loud and clear as we come face to face with ourselves and all that we are.

Which is quite an uncomfortable feeling.

"Silence is the discipline that helps us go beyond the entertainment quality of our lives" ~ Henri Nouwen 'Can You Drink the Cup?'

Without words, entertainment or other distractions, there is nothing to hide behind and we are left alone with our true selves:our raw, wounded, vulnerable humanity.

Although that feels scary, we can still breathe easy, feel safe, and rest secure in the fact that God knows us inside out and loves us just the same. He longs for us to reach out to Him.

We cannot linger in the light of God's presence and come away unchanged, whether we perceive it or not

As we spend time with God, His words and thoughts seep in, refresh, cleanse, wash over our mind and bring the peace and strength we need to be helped, healed and made whole.

Even our creativity is enhanced by silence or quiet, meditative spells.

Idea are allowed space to surface and spill into the conscious mind once we relax enough to let them flow freely.

And God has so much He desires us to hear if only we allow Him space to talk with us and listen for His still, small voice

Silence (or simply being quiet for a spell) is as much for our sakes as God's.

It enables us to more easily tap into who we are and what makes us tick.

We create a clearing for deeper questioning, thinking and dreaming.

We start becoming more fully human and fully alive as we begin to notice both our interior and exterior world and hold them in equal measure without one drowning out the other

I have to confess that I have found it hard to balance all the various elements in my life and successfully carve out a sacred space in a busier environment since returning from my retreat.

Sinking back into routine is all too easy. 

Reassuringly, God waits to meet with us in the mess and mayhem of our normal existence, right where we are in muddle and busyness, noise and distractions.

He knows our schedules, the ways in which we feel stretched and harassed and how hard it can be to snatch quiet moments in the day, and He longs for us to surrender it all to Him.

And as we practice His presence, in tiny moments or longer, it signals our awareness of His provision and our need of Him

The benefits far outweigh any potential disadvantages.

May I encourage you to have a go? It could become a new habit.

You, too, may find that you begin to crave peaceful times alone with God and that silence does, in fact, speak volumes.


Here are a few books that I've found helpful. You may like to try them too. They're all available from Amazon. Just click on the links to find out more.

'Jesus Calling' by Sarah Young
'Into God's Presence' by Liz Babbs

Over to you:

Have you ever deliberately pulled back from your usual activities and sought quiet/silence?

How did it impact your life and walk with God?

Or maybe you are considering doing so. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you.

Linking here with the lovely Ruth Povey for the 'Letter to' series. This week's prompt is:'Letter to explain'. You are very welcome to join in. 

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  1. Thanks, Joy, for this quiet encouragement! With so many pressures and demands on our time and attention, Christian poets and writers often need what you suggest, so I highlighted your post on the Christian Poets and Writers blog - http://christianpoetsandwriters.blogspot.com/. God bless.

    1. Thank you so much, Mary, for encouraging me in this lovely way! I am delighted and honoured to be featured on your blog and hope others will be blessed by reading the post.

  2. Hi Joy, this is very thought-provoking. I usually think of myself as someone who enjoys solitude, but I'm starting to understand that external silence doesn't always equate to internal silence. I may be able to rid myself of outer distractions, but turning off the "white noise" in my head is a much tougher proposition. I particularly liked your analogy of choosing to tune in to the correct radio station. Thanks, Fiona

    1. Hi Fiona. Thanks very much for visiting and leaving such a thoughtful comment. It often seems that the messages God gives me to share are a little challenging in nature! I'm glad you've found something here to take away and think about. May you find the inner rest and peace you desire to experience.

  3. Dear Joy
    Isn't is amazing how our Pappa works what we considered to be extremely bad and evil, to work out for our greatest good!! I was at the place you described as far as my relationship with God was concerned, when He wisely took my legs from right under me with Fm/CFS. It was as if He knew that He needed to get me to stop running this thing called life and helped me along onto the narrow road in Jesus! Dear friend, thanks for a post filled with godly wisdom.
    Blessings XX

    1. Dear Mia, I can see that you understand this perfectly. Neither of us wanted to have a painful past or succumb to M.E and chronic sickness. Yet both of us can trace God's hand at work through it all and appreciate the benefits of a life where we are thrown in great dependence upon God's grace and mercy. I'm so sorry you've suffered similarly, my friend. But I'm also really pleased you've found your strength and highest good in relationship with Christ. Much blessing to you Xx

  4. Such a powerful truth for this crazy, loud world we live in. I especially love this, "God waits to meet with us in the mess and mayhem of our normal existence, right where we are in muddle and busyness, noise and distractions." Thanks for the reminder of this discipline.

    1. Thank you very much, Karin. You are right to describe our environment as "this crazy, loud world we live in". And, deep down in our souls, we need to seek God's peace and listen to His voice imparting wisdom to live well in the here and now of our earthly existence. I'm so pleased this spoke to you.

  5. There is something so holy about meeting with him in the silence isn't there? And something so precious and elusive about those moments of quiet. A really love post, Joy, thank you for linking up x

    1. Oh yes, Ruth, there is definitely "something so precious and elusive about those moments of quiet" and they must surely be so for you as a busy young mum! Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to link up with your blog. It's always a pleasure. xx

  6. Oh yes, brother Lawrence! And Henry Nouwen! (He is a Dutchie like me, or rather he was) That is good company you keep right there. A Godly mindfulness, this practicing of His presence and a good reminder...
    Fenny @ Hotchpotch

    1. Hi Fenny. Thanks very much for stopping by to offer such a lovely word of encouragement. Yes, these are great brothers to hang out with! It's great to have connected with you through FMF. Blessings.