Thursday, September 19, 2019

"The Element of Silence was Immense"

Apple picking, refreshing with my family.

What does a missionary, in her hometown, staying in a beautiful borrowed home, with her two precious girls happily with family, do on retreat?  That was the question.  I don't know if I've quite figured it out or have been very "good" at retreating.  However, I do know that I've had more time to exercise, listen to God, read, worship to new worship music, cry, play games, play with my children, watch movies than I have had in...years!

Because I process aloud and grow in relationship with others, I would truly value hearing how you rest and what you've been hearing or learning from God lately.  That would enhance my retreat and boost my faith, no doubt. You can reply to this in an email or answer in the comments below.

I will start that conversation, and share with you some of what I'm learning in this time. I am reading a book by Mark Buchanan called "The Rest of God." The most recent chapter was on listening to God, a discipline I so long to develop more in my faith walk.  The author talked about Lincoln, and a quote in a biography about him, "In the making of him, the element of silence was immense."  Then he says of himself "Silence is the condition for true listening.  But I have too little of it.  Silence came visiting and found me already occupied."

Isn't that true! Silence is something I have rarely invited into my life on purpose, and when I find myself in it (getting into the car, walking along the road, a rare moment when both the girls are napping) I drown it either with someone else's reflection through song, or my own inner chaos of gnarled thoughts and emotions.

He goes on to say, "Henri Nouwen noted that the root of the word absurd is the Latin word for 'Deaf,' surdus. Absurdness is deafness, where the voice that speaks truth in love, that wounds to heal, that give clear guidance amidst many false enticements--that voice is lost in the cacophony."  I have been absurd so much of my life! Not only am I loud, but I've created a world of busy noise and activity all around me.  Notice, I've created, because I'm sincerely doubting that God is the author of all this hurried frenzy.  How absurd to be inviting the emptiness that a lack of silence and listening introduces!  How vain to think that what rises from this vapor of a life, will refresh others without the bubbling waters of life that flow out of listening and acting in response to what's heard! Absurd indeed!

If you're like me, the words that Jesus says, "My sheep know my voice and follow me," (John 10:27) and "depart from me, I never knew you,"(Matt. 7:21-23) followed by the pleas of those declaring all they've done for God unsettle me! Do I know and follow? Samuel in 1 Sam. 2 ministered before the Lord, but when God first spoke to him, it was said, "now, Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him." (1 Sam. 3:7). Do I minister before the Lord without the ability to hear his words to me?

At the end of the chapter, the Buchanan repeats, "In the making of him, the element of silence was immense." Then he asks, "What makes me?  What makes you?" In Hebrews 4 we're told that God's word is powerful and active, that we have a high priest, Jesus, and then we're told to enter boldly into that throne room where God the father and Jesus the Son at his right hand fellowship. And we are invited into their communion.  A conversation of listening and boldly speaking out of what we've heard in the inner sanctuary and our human need. 

What it will cost me to breath in silence and hear God's words to me daily, I do not know, but as Buchanan puts it, "All authority is derived."  All strength to live a powerful, dynamic life trickles down, sometimes even pours, from the mouth of God, and a life void of these words is merely a shadow, a wisp, a shell.

I want this to make me: The attentiveness to God's voice in the silence, and the unveiling of my life by that word.

Building on the sand!  Making memories, not castles that last.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Christy! Thanks for sharing your reflections on the value of silence. I'm reminded that I need to treasure and take advantage of my opportunities for silence rather than trying to avoid them or fill them with things to distract myself.

    May God give you some quiet moments every day!


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