This week there has been a good bit of attention paid to the moon. This “Blue Moon” is called a “supermoon” because it is a full moon and its super close proximity to the earth. When two full moons occur in the same month, the second one is called a “Blue Moon.” As a result of the lunar eclipse on January 31 and the occurrence of the “Blue Moon” on that date as well. It is three in one – a supermoon Blue Moon total eclipse. The last super “Blue Moon” total lunar eclipse happened December 30, 1982.
Scientists will be busy studying both events in order to learn more about this universe we live in. There is no doubt these studies will prove fascinating. No matter how much detail they will gain from their study, however, nothing can compare with experiencing it.
Learning about nearly anything can be stimulating and it’s a grand gift to have a mind and the capacity to learn and keep on learning. We learn in so many different ways that it seems God has equipped us for learning.
Learning at its best means experiencing. I once heard said, “Are you living life or only reading about it?” It was a strong admonition to experience living.
How true that is in our relationship with the Lord as well. Study is needed, good, and blesses us in so many ways. Each time I open my Bible I discover something new even though I have read it many times. But this week as I have been considering the gifts of silence, I read an illustration that expressed the difference between knowing something and experiencing it.
“In silence we begin to recognize that a lot of our God-talk is like the finger that points to the moon. The finger that points to the moon is not the moon. Pointing to the moon, talking about the moon, involving ourselves in the study and explanation about how the light of the moon is generated is not the same thing as sitting in the moonlight, letting moonbeams fall around us illuminating what they will. It is not the same thing as noticing how everything is transformed in this numinous light. When we sit in the light of the moon, we don’t try to figure it out, explain it, or force it to be anything other than what it is. We just enjoy sitting in the midst of it.” Ruth Haley Barton
What would you discover of God by simply sitting in silence in His presence?
We seldom take time to do that. Oh, yes, we are busy and doing it would require we cease our busyness, but the idea of simply sitting in His presence with no agenda, no requests or even praises and allowing Him to be who He is can be intimidating. We have no control. We must let go of the noisiness inside, the self-talk, the “to do” lists, and even our view of God. We let Him speak if He chooses, but we simply rest in His presence.
Silent retreats are often used to get away from the demands of life for an extended time of stillness. Even if we participate in one of these, it does not happen with enough frequency to sustain us. To experience Him like experiencing the moonlight will require a thirst and desire that leads us to make room for Him wherever we are so that we can become alive to His presence within us.
In Telling Secrets Frederick Buechner (an author I love) addresses what plagues us:
“What deadens us most to God’s presence within, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are engaged in within ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort than being able from time to time to stop that chatter, including the chatter of spoken prayer.”
Scripture often exhorts us to be still. Examples can be found in Zechariah 2:13, Psalm 46:10-11, and Habakkuk 2:20. I especially love the first part of Psalm 46:10 where the psalmist says, “Be still, and know that I am God…”
We can all imagine what it might look like to be “still”, but it’s significant to consider that the Hebrew translation for “be still” means to “Let go of your grip.” That deepens the understanding of “still”. It speaks of surrender.
What would it be like to surrender to His presence?
Perhaps sitting in the moonlight and allowing the moonbeams to touch us can remind us.