Why We Must Be Silent

Speaking of being revolutionary and radical, and subversive in the way that we live our life, one of the most radical things that we can do is to be silent.

Today, let’s examine what that might mean. To be silent in a world of noise. To listen in a world that wants people to hear us, to pay attention to us, to make us feel special because we have a voice.

To give up our right to be heard, and to allow others to speak, and to really hear them, is to be set about changing the world. Why must we always be heard? Why must we always be the ones who have to speak loudest and longest? Why is everyone shouting at each other?

To be silent for a time, to give up that desire to be heard, to project and pronounce yourself and your message – that is a powerful thing in our modern world. To force yourself to be silent is a true discipline. How often, if you are sitting in the car by yourself, do you allow the silence to hang there? If you try it you will see how difficult it is. We seem to always want something on, just a constant buzz in the background, because I think, then we can tell ourselves that we are not alone.

There is something about silence that scares us today. We are afraid of it, because we are afraid of being alone with ourselves. Often we are afraid that we will find out that we don’t like ourselves too much. Or maybe we don’t value ourselves that much that we want to be alone with our thoughts. There may by a multitude of reasons, but, next time you’re in the car, try sitting there without anything else on, and just being silent.

Unless there’s someone in there with you!!!

Silence is so important to our spiritual health though. We must remember that when God speaks to us these days, it is not usually through a shout, or through a huge event, but rather it is often in the quiet moments, when we are really trying to listen, and sometimes when we’re not.

This silence thing is a discipline that needs cultivating. It is something that we need to integrate into our daily lives, if we are going to move forward and live differently to those around us – as we are called to do. When I say silence, I also mean more than just physical noise. There are a lot of other ways that we can add noise to our days, notifications, browsing online, spending hours trawling through news feeds and absorbing a lot of junk information are all ways that we can add to our mental clutter.

I am a fan of minimalism, and so I am also a fan of minimising the clutter that is in our brain, the thoughts that seem to twist and turn, and jump around – as if we were trying to untangle a bowl of spaghetti. How can we do this? Here are three quick tips:
1. Have some time each day where you ‘unplug’ from the virtual world.
2. Cultivate mindfulness by focusing on being in the moment.
3. Spend time doing some deep breathing to help you calm your mind down

What we will do in the posts ahead is to look at each of these, and then to unpack another discipline that will help us to both slow down, and cultivate some silence in our daily lives.

Question: What is the biggest thing in your life that is a source of ‘noise’ for you? How might you minimise its impact on your ability to hear from Jesus?

Bonus! Here is the ‘go to’ story for how often God will speak in the silence:

“Then he said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the LORD’s presence.”
At that moment, the LORD passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?””
1 Kings 19:11-13

Featured image credit:
Russ McCabe

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