Experiencing the Silence

This is such a special time of year. A time to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus. A time to praise God for the gift He gave us in His Son.

But.... do we really celebrate in a way that is fitting of such an event? Do we really experience the season?

I've been thinking about this alot for the past several weeks. I think that, while I do celebrate and experience, I don't do so fully. I don't slow down enough. I don't pull my head up from my to do list enough. Through the noise and the activities of the season I don't listen for God enough.

This morning in church services, our pastor reminded us of the importance of taking time to be quiet.. to be still. He encouraged us to make an extra effort in this Christmas season to shut down the music, the TV, the activities, and the "to dos" and just be still and listen for God.

Oh, how very hard this can be sometimes! We live in a society full of noise and activity. For many, it is hard to just sit and do nothing but listen -- me included! I always look for times when all around me is quiet -- no TV, no radio, etc -- but I am not always quiet. I must be "doing"... reading, writing, housework, etc. All around me may be quiet, but I am not very quiet. For me, it is the activity that I struggle to stop.

Why is that? Do we have a need to always be entertained? Are we a little afraid of where our thoughts may lead us if that is all we have going at the moment? Are we even more afraid of where God may lead us if we stop and be still and really listen for Him to speak? Do we have some sort of experience in our lives that hinders us from fully letting go, putting aside all the activity around us, and being still with God?

Our pastor spoke today of Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-22). They both were believers and knew God to be real. However, years of being unable to have a child of their own had left its mark on them. In that time period, people looked down on couples unable to have children and felt it was a punishment. I can only imagine that after years of being treated in such a way that this was a sore and difficult subject for both Zechariah and Elizabeth.

When the angel Gabriel came to Zechariah and told him that his wife would have a child, he doubted. I can only imagine how a lifetime of experiences surrounding being unable to have children played into why Zechariah doubted. Even though Zechariah KNEW that God could give him and Elizabeth a child, his experiences led him to doubt. His experiences led him to question. And, because of that, he spent the next 9 months in silence. He could not speak a word. He was forced to do nothing but listen.

How many times do we allow our experiences to affect our behavior? My guess would be that our experiences affect our behaviors more than we realize.

Could it be that because of what we have experienced we have difficulty being quiet? We let the noise around us all day long block out what we don't want to address or what we fear. Or, maybe we are quiet, but we run from what God is trying to show us in those quiet times. We're afraid that if we really listen to what God is trying to say to us that we'll hear something that we don't want to hear or be led somewhere we don't want to go.

What we fail to realize is that, while running the other direction might get us away from doing something we don't want to do, we also are missing out on the experiences of a lifetime. God does lead us to places that are sometimes scarry... he definitely leads us outside our comfort zone. But... God NEVER leads us to someplace that is not in our best interst. It is always GOOD.

How about this.... whenever we want to turn the other direction, whenever we want to drown out the silence with noise... let's ask ourselves this instead, "What wonderful, life-changing experience am I going to miss out on if I decide to run AWAY from God instead of TO God?"

This holiday season, I encourage you to take the time to be silent. Take the time to listen. Allow God to move in the silence of this season as He did in the silence experienced by Zechariah. I'll be doing the same.

Whatever it is that keeps us from being silent -- whether it be life experiences, life habits, to do lists -- let's put it aside and experience God in the silence we give to Him.

6 Thoughts Shared:

Kristi said...

Wonderfully said!!!

bp said...

So many excellent points here Melanie. Thank you!

Meredith said...

....listening.....and thank you for the reminder!


Melanie, I think you especially nailed it in pointing out that we tend to avoid being quiet because we are afraid. Afraid of what God may tell us.

Laurie Ann said...

I agree with the other commenters. Great job on this post. So much truth packed in.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

As I spent some time in silence with God this morning, I read a familiar Scripture, Isaiah 50. Something struck me profoundly in those moments, something I usually don't focus on when reading these verses...

"When I cam, why was there no one? When I called, why was there no one to answer? Was my arm too short to ransom you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you?"

And I stayed there for a long pause, with the questions and with my answers.

It was my privilege to engage with God Most High; his questions are his invitation to humanity to join him in sacred conversation.

How thankful I am for the deliberate pauses that move my heart to divine dialogue.

Keep to it.