In the mid-1960’s Paul Simon wrote a song that became popular entitled “The Sound of Silence”. If you are old enough, you may recall it being played on pop radio stations back then. The lyrics paint a dim view of silence and perhaps reflect what causes us to feel uncomfortable with silence many times.
Before you dispute experiencing discomfort in the midst of silence, consider times when you are with a friend or small group and it suddenly gets silent. Most often someone (or you) feel compelled to fill the silence with words. Only in the most intimate relationships do we tend to relax with periods of silence. It is in those relationships that we feel safe, secure, relaxed, and assured of the love of those persons.
How do we respond to silence in our spiritual life?
When we very much need or want to hear from the Lord about something and He appears to remain silent, we all can struggle with His delayed response. We want the reassurance of His presence even if He is not giving us the solution we desire.
But what does it feel like when you sit with the Lord? Are you at ease being silent or does it feel more comfortable to keep speaking to Him whether in prayer or a journal? For many of us, silence when we are with the Lord can feel awkward or even frightening. We are wired to doing in our relational connections with people and also with God.
When we are sitting in silence with the Lord we can have two competing fears assail us. One…He will not speak to us. Two…He may speak to us.
But there is also something else that sitting in silence awakens in us. We begin to get in touch with the noise inside that our busyness drowns out much of the time. Silence can shock and overwhelm us with the amount of cacophony happening within us; then again we can begin to discover more about ourselves. We might learn what is making us so irritable or feeling so isolated and disconnected.
Sitting in silence means discovering how tired we truly are. It means setting aside our agendas for a bit to allow ourselves to experience a deep breath and consider what would nourish us again.
I love the quote I ended my recent post with by Gunilla Norris in Sharing Silence:
“When we make room for silence we make room for ourselves…Silence invites the unknown, the untamed, the wild, the shy, the unfathomable – that rarely has a chance to surface within us.”
When we sit with the Lord in silence, we allow Him to lead.
Perhaps we fear that more than we realize because it means letting go of what we think our relationship ought to be and letting Him make it into that level of intimacy that can only happen when we allow Him to lead.
Be assured to choose to sit for even ten minutes in silence with the Lord will be a battle. Depending on how tired we are and what season we are in, we may find it harder to do than we expect. Even so, I think He is often waiting for us to do just that…sit with Him without praising, petitioning or pleading.
After all, if we are His, we are betrothed to Him as a part of the Bride of Christ. If you have known intimate human love, it was not hard to sit in deep contentment with that person and have no need to fill the space with words. Should it not be true when we are with Him? He is the lover of our soul and companion as well as Savior, Lord, King of Kings, Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Son of Man.
In her book Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence Ruth Barton says it best:
“Solitude, then, is all about desire. It is about lovers desiring each other enough to finally take the leap into trust, uninhibited expression. It is about friends saying, ‘I want to be with you so badly that I’ll rearrange everything so that we can see each other.”