In the SilenceFound in: Travels
As the boat slowed to a stop, we sat completely still in silence for a long time. The breeze rocked our boat slightly and blew the tangled strands of hair from my face. I closed my eyes and listened to the light splashes against the rocks out in the distance and inhaled the fragrance of the sea.
Then the birds began to sing over our heads.
Different birds harmoniously joining the chorus from far off to nearby perches, they filled the salty air with song. Where were they all coming from?!
Suddenly a song welled up from within me, one I haven't even thought of or sung in years: "Away, away from the noise. Away, away to hear Your voice. Nothing else matters. To worship You, I live. To worship You, I live, I live to worship You." I felt the hovering presence of God surround me out on the sea in the middle of nowhere. I sensed the nearness of Him in the quiet, in the silence.
God speaks in the silence sometimes. Ironic, isn't it? While waiting to hear His voice, I heard Him in the silence; waiting to go where He leads, I felt Him in the stillness.
And then I think about Elijah, hiding in the wilderness after receiving word that Jezebel was out to kill him. 1 Kings 19 says, "And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice. When Elijah heard the voice, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave."
That still small voice.
God loves to use unconventional ways to get our attention. There's this awesome teaching about When God is Silent by a guy named Kris Vallotton that I’ve been mulling over for months. There are key moments in scripture that God is at work when He is silent: "When He created you, He was silent. When He redeemed you, He was silent." What I'm learning is that just because I'm not hearing Him in a way that aligns with my expectations, it doesn't mean He's not speaking. Even still, it is really hard for me to be at rest when questions go seemingly unanswered.
What does it mean?
Why isn't He telling me exactly what I need to know to move to my next step?
Sometimes in moments of silence, He wants us to make a move. Yeah, I said that. What I'm beginning to unravel is that as we are co-heirs with Christ, we are seated in heavenly places. He wants us to have dominion over things in the earth. He wants us to make choices and choose well. He let Adam name the animals at the dawn of Creation; He gave him authority to make decisions. And today, He wants us to walk in that same freedom and authority. So when I'm asking every little thing from Him, sometimes I sense His silence is because He is giving me permission to choose the next step. WHAT? It is hard for my brain to wrap around that. God, you're giving me options?!
Often, timing plays a huge role too. In hindsight I look back at moments when I was nudging God to answer me, but He was silent. And had He answered at the moment when I asked, trouble was sure to follow. I would not have been ready for it. The right thing at the wrong time would've made it the wrong thing. Thank God for grace. His timing is always right. Patience is one of those fruits of the Spirit that I'm working on constantly. Ugh. But time is an invention that God created. He is not in a hurry...like I tend to be.
Then there are just some questions we won't have answers for on this side of heaven. And that is okay. Like, "God, why are BOTH my parents battling cancer right now?" followed by the constant petition for the complete restoration of their earthly bodies. I'm learning in those awfully hard questions that I don't HAVE to have an answer. Because what I really need is His nearness more than answers themselves; I need His close proximity, the assurance that whether I'm floating out on a boat in the middle of the sea hearing birds sing over me, or hiding under a pile of covers crying out for Him to answer, He won't leave me. If His silence equated to abandonment, to Him leaving me all alone, then I absolutely couldn't handle silence. But it does not. And thankfully He promises His nearness:
"Where could I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from Your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me and the night shall be [the only] light about me, Even the darkness hides nothing from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You." (Psalm 139:7-12)
“In the process, in the waiting, You’re making melodies over me. And Your presence is the promise. For I am a pilgrim on a journey…” – Amanda Falk