Sometimes I Just Need Silence

Silence belongs to an earlier age

Ours is an age of noise

With the advent of digital social media has come the white noise of everyone “expressing themselves”

Silence is now a precious commodity, a scarce resource that is hard to come by

    • Go to a coffee shop and the music is blaring so that it is difficult to even think
    • Go food shopping and music – often terrible music
    • Everywhere you go people are talking
      • Talking for the sake of talking 
      • Saying little to nothing of any depth or benefit
      • With few to no one really listening
    • Morning shows on local television and radio
    • People in constant motion – one activity after another with no pause
    • Insecure people talking non-stop and not really listening to anything you say

White noise … background noise

Helps to keep people from doing any deep thinking or soul searching

Keeps people from truly knowing themselves – who they are and why they do what they do

We live in a non-thinking consumer culture and have become a people who do not know themselves

As a result there is little to no peace of mind let alone peace in the heart

The supernatural peace that the Lord spoke so strongly about

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.”

A peace that brings relief from the constant turmoil and anxiety of daily life

I don’t know about you but “Sometimes I Just Need Silence” (Desperately want silence)

I need to sit in the corner with a hot coffee and a good book and just be quiet

But more than quiet or silent as in no talking or noise

Silent and still on the inside – no inner turmoil, anxiety, worry, or uncertainty

I crave “silence” around me – in an age of constant noise and activity (motion) and it is hard to find

I carve “silence” and “stillness” inside me — a “rest from the rush” of thoughts and emotions that flood my heart and soul every day, all the time and it is hard to find

But necessary to create because without that silence there can be no inner peace and we will not come to know ourselves.

Life will have no depth

So, I hunger for and actually work at making times of silence and stillness in my life

Ecclesiastes 3:7 “(There is ) a time to keep silence, and a time to speak…”

Psalm 46:10a “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Still — silent, at peace, lack of turmoil and anxiety, no motion

PERSONAL:

I am at a point in my life – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – where I just want to be quiet  — Very quiet

I crave silence … on the outside and the inside

You know, you can only hear God’s voice once you quiet the noise around and within

And, God wants us to hear His voice

John 10:3 “My sheep hear My voice” (one voice among many)

John 10:4 “… they know My voice”

John 10:16 “… they will listen to (obey – follow) My voice

To hear His voice we need silence, quiet, and a sense of inner stillness and peace 

To hear His voice we need to quieten all the other voices we hear

    • Voice of our friends
    • Voice of our heritage
    • Voice of our past experiences
    • Voice of our family members
    • Voice of our emotions
    • Voice of our opinions
    • Voice of our generation
    • Voice of media – television, radio, social media
    • Voice of our music
    • Voice of religion
    • Voice of tradition
    • Voice of demons and the devil

There are numerous other, more personal voices as well…

    • Voice of guilt
    • Voice of shame
    • Voice of rejection (self-rejection)
    • Voice of unforgiveness

Without some intentional silence the weary soul is a prisoner being slowly worked to death in a merciless gulag of endless noise

That is why if you have ever walked through an ancient monastery or cathedral you experience a sacred stillness and silence – it’s tangible

That is why a walk by yourself through the forest when camping allows you to experience the reverent quiet of the woods and it refreshes your soul

There is the holy hush of the cathedral

The sacred stillness of the monastery

The reverent quiet of the forest

When a gentle silence and stillness replace the constant noise and turmoil

Then and only then does your soul have a chance to heal

Take a trip through an ancient cathedral or a functioning monastery and you will be greeted by a sign that says “Silence, Please.”

Almost like a desperate plea from the soul of man 

A place of silence and stillness is needed to pray well – to experience silent prayer and allow the soul to heal

We can pray anywhere, anytime, but to pray well – to pray in a way that restores the soul — we need to find some quiet place and “Be still…”

It is not just the silence of prayer that is needed — a posture of quietude needs to be adopted by contemporary Christianity — especially in North America

Too much of the most visible presence of Christianity is loud, forceful, and angry

Too often we are known for what we are against and not what we stand for

Too often we get embroiled in current trends, controversies, and conspiracy theories instead of sticking to the basics of the Gospel of the Kingdom 

Too often loud and not gracious, quiet, and gentle

I believe that we don’t need to add more noise to the raging turmoil we see and hear daily in our world of constant talk and a 200+ channel universe…

13th Century Italy had plenty of social, religious, and political problems …

But a young man name Francis found a more creative way to respond than by pushing his opinion or yelling at people or striking out in protest

Francis – who came to be known as Francis of Assisi – lived a quiet life of prayer, peace, and poverty offering an alternative to the society of his day — a counterculture and not a sub-culture

He demonstrated an alternative way of life by cultivating silence and stillness in his daily life and interaction with others … 

He lived life from a place of silence and inner peace and quiet … from a soul that was healed, whole, healthy, and at peace

He is a great example for us to follow

In the turmoil of our times we need to be more like Saint Francis and less like Fox News

In today’s world we need more Francis of Assisi and less of Rush of Limbaugh

We need a quieter, less combative, less belligerent Christianity

More quietness and trust, less riot and protest, less constant noise and endless chatter to which few are listening

As Isaiah dreamed of the coming reign of God, he expressed his hope by saying,

“The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust” (Isaiah 32:17)

Isaiah sees the result of Jesus’ birth as King as the reign of an inner quietness and trust that results in a lifestyle that speaks of peace, patience, gentle power, and purpose  

An inner confidence, silence, and stillness that was seriously attractive to those living in a world of constant noise and turmoil, stress and anxiety

There is a group of people today who are fascinated by a kind of loud “riot Christianity” where the point is to make a lot of noise and attract attention

They justify the approach by saying things like, “Everywhere Paul went there were riots”

That may be true – but the riots were not Paul’s doing or desire

In Jerusalem, Paul was arrested after being falsely accused of starting a riot

In arguing his innocence Paul says, “They did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd” (Acts 24:18-21)

Paul never advocates for loud, public protest – just the opposite

Paul says we should “aspire to live quietly” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

I love this in the Passion Translation: “Aspire to lead a calm and peaceful life as you mind your own business and earn your living, just as we’ve taught you. By doing this you will live an honourable life, influencing others and commanding respect of even the unbelievers. Then you’ll be in need of nothing and not dependent upon others.”

Paul says to “lead a quiet and peaceful life” (1 Timothy 2:2)

Paul suggests that we live a quiet Christianity…

Almost all of Jesus’ kingdom parables are quiet stories

According to Jesus, the Kingdom of God is like:

          • Seed being sown
          • Plants growing
          • Bread rising
          • A woman sweeping her house
          • A shepherd searching for a lost sheep
          • A wayward son coming home at last
          • A father quietly waiting for his son’s return

Because we are obsessed with all things ‘big’ and ‘powerful’ in the conventional sense — we are convinced that to change the world the Kingdom of God and the Church needs to be big, loud, and in-your-face to be noticed …

Like a construction site – very visible, loud, moving things, building things, lots of noise and activity. Noticeable.

Look at all the buildings that we call churches…

But the Kingdom is more like a forest growing

Too much noise (like a construction site model of church) is incompatible with the Kingdom which is silent and still but constantly and powerfully growing, moving, and defeating the darkness

When Solomon was building the temple in the Old Testament – it was different than today’s construction sites

It had a unique protocol

“In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built” (1 Kings 6:7 NIV). 

During His ministry Jesus refused to contribute to the noise (arguments, discussions, public displays) of His age — even when his opponents were aching for a fight

Matthew 12:15-19 “Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets…’”

The Church and the believers are not a special interest group that has to make its demands known

Standing outside of the regular flow of life and yelling at the sinners and the sin

We should be more like Jesus … On the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-25) He simply walked with two very discouraged disciples (not yet born again) , opening the Scriptures as they talked together. He allowed the Spirit to work in them and open their hearts. He ate with them…

We don’t have to be out there fighting against or even fighting for something:

    • Abortion
    • Homosexuality
    • War
    • Poverty
    • Justice
    • Climate change

I am not saying that we should not be concerned and involved

I am saying we can be involved and active – but quietly one-on-one in every day life

We don’t have to mimic the noise of special-interest groups such as we have just seen with the protests at COP26 held for the past two weeks in Glasgow, Scotland

We can be an alternative of quietness and trust, a gentle refuge of peace, a place to discover the voice of God speaking to the world and to troubled individuals

We can be:

      • A seed planted
      • A plant growing
      • The yeast in the bread
      • The shepherd searching
      • The woman’s sweeping
      • A father watching 
      • The wind blowing
      • The watchman on the wall

Saint Francis walked the world quietly spreading the love of God and the grace and forgiveness found only in Jesus

He walked the hills of Umbria, Italy barefoot in his parched brown habit and simple rope belt “preaching to birds and bishops” as someone once said

His life was a simple, quiet protest against the general lifestyle of 13th Century Italy – the sinful lifestyle of 13th Century Italy

He quietly spoke of the need to remove sin from a person’s life and from society in general and even the current church of his day

Sins such as – pride, greed, corruption, violence

He quietly spoke – with words and deeds – about the need to treat all people with dignity and respect

It is said that St. Francis said: “As you go, preach — and, if necessary, use words.”

He did not yell at sinners living in sin – He loved the sinner and spoke gently and quietly about God’s love … speaking into the heart of the sinner – calming the inner turmoil caused by sin so love and the Spirit could do their work

He understood that you don’t yell at the darkness – you simply shine a light 

Remember – you are the light (Matthew 5:14)

He understood that you can’t argue someone into the Kingdom – you love them into the Kingdom 

And because of his simple and quiet lifestyle — and the ministry of lovingly pointing out sin in the life of sinners

Sinners themselves were drawn to Francis

In his lifetime forty thousand people joined his rigorous order of radical Christianity emphasizing a simple life style, humility, and living with only the basic needs of life being met

And silence on the inside – no inner turmoil, anxiety, worry, or uncertainty

An inner peace, contentment, quiet (silence)  … that was outwardly seen and felt by those they lived with and ministered to

An inner peace and silence that was seen in their lifestyle and interaction with others 

An inner peace and confidence that was seriously attractive and was exactly what people were hungering for

So, as we work at and experience this silence and the accompanying stillness we will hear and recognize the voice of God

We will sense the presence of the Holy Spirit in a very real and always fresh and practical way

And there will be an inner stillness within – a peace that passes all understanding – that will be attractive to those who live in constant turmoil and unrest (a lack of peace)

      • Spiritual unrest (turmoil)
      • Mental unrest (turmoil)
      • Emotional unrest (turmoil)
      • Relational unrest (turmoil)
      • Physical unrest (turmoil)

And with that inner peace you will sense the whirlwind (turmoil) within others and be able to speak gently into it helping them to find Jesus who is the only One who can calm the storm and speak the words “peace, be still.”

Over the years that I have walked with Jesus He has spoken a number of times about my need to be “silent” and “still”

Along with this He has taught me that I also need extended times of “solitude” and that this will enable me to be more sensitive to the voice of the “Spirit”

Silence

Stillness

Solitude

Spirit