I was reading in Job this morning & I read a verse about when God is silent. This kind of started me thinking about the times when God doesn’t seem to be talking. These times can be really frustrating or let me suggest that these times can be really rich in getting to know God better. Here are some things that could really help you in those times / seasons when God seems silent:
*sometimes God may seem quiet because we don’t give Them (Trinity) the chance to speak – we do all the talking
*for me, I know that God is sometimes quiet, because They (Trinity) are waiting for me to talk
*sometimes I think God is quiet because They want us to lean in & get closer
*sometimes quiet can be an indication of displeasure – is there something I’ve done or said that has been displeasing to God that I need to adjust? This can be a good exploratory question with God
*quiet in a relationship can be an indication of closeness & intimacy: I feel comfortable being quiet with some of my closest friends
I find that my world has lots of noise and not just from the radio, TV or my kids having fun. There just seems to be lots of noise, even in my thinking. The noise in my brain might be similar to yours: tasks I haven’t finished, people that I’m concerned about, issues I need to discuss with my husband, work things to get through, planning my dinners for the next week, topics I need to talk about with each of my kids, the brake light & head light on my car that need to be replaced, . . . . . Just lots of things flying around in my brain, probably just like yours. But these things can become annoying if I don’t take some time to get quiet and be still. Initially, when I try to settle down my thoughts, they only seem to get louder & demand more attention. But if I stay with it, pressing in to being still and quiet, I can often find some quietness and I love these moments because it seems like these are the times when my fellowship with Jesus is very rich. So, maybe we could agree to take some time this weekend to get quiet and be still – listening to Jesus and giving Him our presence and attention. The effort can pay indescribable dividends! 🙂
I just read in the Bible this morning about Elijah in a cave hearing a MASSIVE windstorm, feeling an earthquake & seeing an unexplainable fire – all things that would TOTALLY GRAB OUR ATTENTION!!!!! But Elijah didn’t respond to any of these huge & loud cataclysms. But when he heard a small whisper or a faint breeze, that’s when he put on his coat to go outside of his cave & chat with God.
I’d like to be more like Elijah – less reactionary with various cataclysms, attention grabbers and the loudness that can be so prevalent in life. I’d like to be trained to listen, watch and wait for God’s presence and voice, even when its small and quiet. I find that when God’s voice is small and quiet, I tend to get more focused and quiet so that I can hear what He’s saying with greater attention and alertness. Don’t fight the quiet 🙂
I just had the honor of attending a Veterans Day Ceremony at my kid’s school & it was really good. While I was there & on several other occasions, I noticed that people get really squirmy with “silence”. Sometimes when I’m giving a lecture or sermon, I do the silent thing for a few moments to make everyone just slightly jittery – its a little bit of twisted humor on my part. Nevertheless, the point remains that for many of us, we feel very uncomfortable with silence. In order to mitigate this discomfort we play music, talk on the phone, text our friends, hum or talk to ourselves, turn on the tv for background noise, . . . . just about anything to fill in the awkwardness we feel in silence. But there is massive solace, joy & even safety in silence. Mother Teresa said, “God is the friend of silence .”
So here are some thoughts that might help you to feel more comfortable with silence & feel free to add your own ideas as well:
- quiet can be more soothing than filler noise
- quiet can allow you to work through your thoughts to understand some deeper issues
- try getting in 3-5min of quiet in each day (turning off everything & putting your phone on silent)
- recognize that silence is an essential ingredient for listening
- silence prepares us to receive
One of the mentors in my life has this saying, “dignify the trial”. I used to get cranky with him about this idea, but the more I think about it, the more I agree with this idea. When he’s talked w me about dignifying the difficulty, he means that when I’m in a tough situation that I can bring dignity to the challenge, as opposed to making the trial a pity party. Whenever I’m facing a hardship or difficulty, I have a choice to make – I can gripe, moan, worry, complain, fight, argue and other things that could possibly not be constructive. Or I can make the choice to dignify the difficulty. In my mind, that means that I don’t run around, complain, whine advertise my struggle & gripe about it to any listening ear. To dignify the difficulty, that means that I bear up under the struggle, looking to God for strength, wisdom & help. I may chose to share with a person my struggle in a very private way, but I’m not advertising my hardship to gain sympathy, support, pity or commiseration.
I’m exploring this idea in my daily living with some difficulties that you probably face as well & so far, this idea of dignifying the difficulty has been very rewarding in a very personal way. I’m particularly liking the idea of leaning into God for His strength & support, rather than advertising my struggle – this seems to be much more constructive & beneficial 🙂
The last few days have been kind of a whirlwind – traveling to a few cities, lots of driving for end of the season swim parties, ministry opportunities, car challenges, etc. Sometimes when we are in those super busy seasons, it can feel like we’re running on fumes. If we’re not careful, we can get impatient, sharp & dismissive.
It is particularly helpful in these seasons to do our best to keep our eyes on God and we can do this in many different ways:
- good worship tunes
- reviewing Bible verses that have been helpful
- talking with a friend about God
- endeavor to find some quiet from time to time
Job 20:20 says, “Because he knew no quiet within him, he does not retain anything he desires”
I feel like I’m the pot calling the kettle black with this blog – guilty as charged & a walking contradiction, maybe even borderline hypocrite. Here’s why: the last 2 weeks have been busy beyond any degree of rational acceptance and now I’m writing a blog about keeping margins in our lives. A margin is the empty space on a page around the written area. There are margins in this blog, in newspapers, books, etc & margins are necessary in our lives.
empty space, pause, still
Sometimes life feels like a treadmill on which the pace continues to increase & the incline just keeps going up – so many demands, expectations, deadlines, responsibilities, requirements, . . . . . Sometimes if we’re not careful, we fill up all of the margins in our lives & then continue to keep the margins full.
However, when I look at Jesus’ life, He was very intentional about keeping margins in His life. Of course He had MASSIVE demands on His time & person – people squashing Him wherever He went trying to get some of His attention, time, power, healing, love, . . . . . and His life only became increasingly popular each day of His ministry. Nevertheless, He carved margins into his lifestyle. He dismissed the crowed after feeding the 5,000. He went off by Himself to pray ALOT. He withdrew with His disciples from time to time to give them some intensive teaching & attention. When He rode in boats, He slept. Jesus modeled margins for us with perfect agility & balance.
Here are some things that help me to keep some margins in my life:
- quiet in the car – it helps me to turn off things that beckon for my attention; furthermore, when I’m riding with my kids, I want to be fully present with & to them
- keep some rhythms & routines: sleep when its time to sleep, wake up early to have some solitude (or stay up late if you’re a night person), grab the spare minutes in a day to look to God & still your heart
- drink water as opposed to soda & coffee – my body already has enough stress on it with out adding caffeine, etc
- sitting with my husband or a friend – I don’t need to have a conversation but just some togetherness
- I also want to add some Bible memorizing to my margin maintenance so I can give my mind some food on which to nibble when it wants to digest various “worries”
Keep some still in your life if you want to remain effective over the long run 🙂