When my parents visited us in Kansas City this past November, one of the things they kept saying over and over again was that they felt like they had come to a quiet cabin in the woods. Everything was so peaceful and still. Now, mind you, our house is like any other home in the suburban sprawl across America; we just happen to have real, green grass and three giant trees in our yard instead of the usual cacti and rocks my parents are used to (a.k.a. Phoenix).
But there is some truth to their statement. Ever since I’ve moved to the Midwest, I’ve felt like my soul has done some unwinding. It’s the first time in my young adult life that I’ve experienced something of a Sabbath lifestyle. Sure, there is still the daily routine, working, keeping up a home, meeting friends, etc. But something about the pace is different. Or perhaps I’ve given myself the permission to breathe. Or maybe I’ve realized that I erroneously placed so much value on hyperventilating through my “ultra-stressful, ultra-productive” day as if that equated to my life having real meaning and purpose.
I recently heard a speaker and teacher share about his journey with the Lord and how early on in his Christian walk, God taught him the importance of starting or ending his day with silence. He did not “empty his mind” in that hour; rather, he would focus his thoughts on an attribute of God (e.g. His faithfulness, His mercy, etc.) or gaze upon a painting of Jesus on the cross. And as the traffic of his soul died down, he experienced some of the sweetest moments he has ever had with the Lord.
Around that same time, I came across this article on Relevant magazine written by Jayson D. Bradley. It’s a provoking read, but some of his closing statements resounded with clarity in the dusty caverns of my soul…
“The silence we need is more than an absence of sound; it’s a break from constant stimulus and activity. It’s about allowing the tangled cords in our spirit and mind to unravel and be stilled. It’s about stopping the constant need to control our surroundings with our actions and words in a never-ending quest to drown out the unrest in our hearts. It’s about facing the dragon of emptiness, loneliness, frustration, anger, hurt and need head on—and doing the soul-wrenching work of letting Jesus deal with it.”
Yes. All of that, yes. So that’s when I decided I needed to learn how to be still and silent before His presence.
Day one – A snapshot into my thought process… “Okay, 10:30pm…I should’ve done this in the morning, but ending my day with it is better than nothing, right? Okay. Put my phone in the other room. No music (not even Steffany Gretzinger…but wait…she’s just so good at the whole getting me into the Jesus mood thing!). Okay, focus on Jesus. Think about the cross and His mercy. “Be still and know that I am God…” … “Be still and know that I am God…” … How can it only be 10:35?!” No joke. This is literally what happened.
Let’s just say day two through *cough, cough* didn’t get much better than that. So I went from aiming for one hour to aiming for ten minutes. Let’s be real.
So, I’m writing this blog post mid-journey. I haven’t had any ground-breaking, burning bush encounters with the Lord yet. More than anything else, the thing I’ve realized is that the traffic of my soul is rather congested, and all the internal yapping is sometimes a guise to cover up some of the depravity that lies deep within.
I don’t like it.
But I also know this. Every great man or woman of the Lord has had to learn two things in his or her walk with Him – (1) how to wait to hear His voice and (2) how to wait on God’s timing. They may not be known by very many in this world. But they’re the ones who have this deep well of history with God. They just carry this presence of peace about them in all circumstances.
I want to be like that one day.
So, I’m still on this journey into silence. After all, (paraphrasing from Jayson’s closing words in the Relevant article) I can’t expect to go deep until I first learn how to be still.