Philosophy Friday #2
I don’t do silence very well.
I don’t know how long it’s been a problem. As long as I can remember, I’ve loved music and turned it on whenever I had the opportunity. Especially since beginning college, I’m almost never without my headphones walking around campus. I love music a lot, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s one of the gifts God has given to us to enjoy, a creative construction of sound that reflects His beauty and transcendence to the world.
But it’s been at least a few years since I began to fear silence. A few years since I couldn’t handle working on anything without at least some kind of background noise to focus on. A few years since I realized that silence, in many ways, had become my enemy. My mind doesn’t function well with silence, so I run from it.
Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt it. We live in a world saturated by stimulation, from bright lights everywhere to background music to smells to textures. In many ways, it’s too much. In other ways, we crave it. Anything to fill the silence. Anything to fill the void.
The problem is, we weren’t made to be surrounded by noise and overwhelmed by color and light. We were made to connect with our Creator, who prefers other methods of revealing Himself. A still, small voice. A silent star in the heavens.
And if we’re constantly drowning those simple little things out, is it any wonder we miss His voice?
God speaks into silence
“Be still and know that I am God,” the psalmist transcribes. Stillness is more than just the absence of noise and busyness. It’s the way to connect with God and hear His voice. It’s in the silence that He chooses to speak.
In a lot of ways, it’s another aspect of His kindness towards us. While there are times that He forces His way into our lives (the Apostle Paul comes to mind) and certainly it is only by His calling us that we can find Him, most of the time He chooses to wait. He allows us to seek Him consciously. He gives us the desire, and is patient with us while we drag out the process far more than it needs to be dragged out.
a discipline of silence
As I said, silence is hard for me. I feel that when I have nothing to occupy my mind, I leave equal room for the enemy and the defender of my soul. My mind is equally likely to be filled with fear or trust, His presence or absence, in a way that seems unavoidable.
But I don’t want that. And I’m sure you don’t either.
I would love for you to join me in forming a discipline of silence, so that we may be better able to hear God’s voice. It may look different for your than for me, and that’s okay. The main idea will be to let God speak, to actively say to Him, “Here I am, with no distractions, ready to listen.”
For me, that’s going to mean not reaching for my headphones as soon as I get out of bed. It’s going to mean making sure I don’t have any distractions while I do my devotions. Even music which I believe helps me stay close to God – even that will be absent during the time I set aside to consciously connect with Him. It may mean leaving music behind altogether during certain times I used to cling to it. It certainly could mean giving it up altogether for a while, fasting from something I’ve used as a crutch. We shall see.
And here’s the thing. I don’t think there’s as much room in my mind for the enemy to strike when I am focusing on my Creator. I think if I do not leave the door open for him, he has a much harder time getting into my mind. Not that I have been actively allowing the enemy to distract me or lead me astray, but it is much more powerful to actively not allow it.
a break of silence
There’s one other reason I’ve feared the silence before – and maybe this is true of you as well. It may be that you don’t want to leave room for the still, small voice of God. It may be that you have an idea of what He will say to you when you do – and it is something you’d rather avoid.
I spent half a year, once, avoiding what God was telling me to do. Initially, I didn’t realize it. It became easier to ignore, until God chose to step in and speak up a little louder. The thought in the back of my head became loud and insistent that I listen. And eventually, I did just that.
God isn’t someone who, if you ignore Him for a while, will give up and try something else. If He has chosen to work in your life, or if He has chosen you for a specific task, He will make sure it happens. I always think of the prophet Jonah, whose story could easily be summarized as “Look, we can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way.”
God has done things the hard way before. He’s not afraid of it. It’s we who should be concerned. It is much, much easier and better to submit to His will the first time around, rather than bringing the hard way upon ourselves.
Silence is still terrifying to me in many ways. It’s still an opportunity for darkness to envelop me. But it’s also an opportunity for light to shine through.
And in some ways, the choice is up to me. I can choose to focus on the light or on the darkness, on the voice of the enemy or the voice of God. One speaks lies and deception, confirms my worst fears, agrees with every hateful thing I believe about myself. The other speaks life and truth and gives me hope that, while I may believe certain things and act certain ways now, I don’t have to stay there forever.
One day, the light may break through. Until then, I will make every effort not to fear the silence, but instead welcome the opportunity for the voice of God to speak.
Do you ever fear the silence? How will you battle that fear so that you can experience the close connection with God that it can bring?