In the first blog post of the year, What Kind of Weight will You Lose in 2020, I talked about being on a journey to finding peace. Part of the discussion centered on being still as a first step. So many of us struggle with silence and yet there is great power in what we can hear in the silent stillness.
With all of the noise we have grown so used to, it is no wonder that being able to hear a pin drop would make us a little anxious. Can you think of the last time you walked into a space that didn’t have music, chatter, ring tones, text tones or phone alerts? It’s hard to remember when going to a coffee shop was a quiet, tech-free place to read or relax without more than the din of conversation and coffee grinders breaking the silence. But like anything else, we get used to our new normal and keep on going. However, I think we have really lost something with the decline of silence and the increase in noise.
We have lost the ability to sit still and connect with ourselves and God. The impact of so much noise in our life is far-reaching – so far that we may not be able to understand it without, you know, sitting still.
Jesus knew the power of silence to reflect, center, and rest. And he also knew how hard it was to find it! After he sent the twelve out to anoint those who were sick, heal those who were struggling with demons and urged all those they encountered to repent, rest was needed. This is heavy work and Jesus knew it. When they returned to him, “He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while. For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Mark 6:31 NRSV. But that didn’t exactly work out. After hopping on a boat to find a quiet place to relax, the people who saw them get in the boat actually got to the destination first. And the demands for teaching continued.
Next thing we know, Jesus and the twelve have 5,000 people to feed! So much for stillness!
Have you ever felt like that too? As if the silence finally arrived only to be interrupted by the school nurse calling or the realization that you promised to help a friend with a project that was due today…those are rough days. Our lives are so packed with responsibilities, both those placed upon us and those that are self-imposed. Before my evening prayer practice was strong, I often found myself falling into bed at night, wondering where the day went. Not to mention that my brain was already ticking off a list of things to do the next day. So much for rest.
And then it hit me one day when I was reading the Gospel of Mark. In Mark 4:35-40 we are told of how Jesus silences the storm while sailing along with his disciples. Jesus was tired after a day of teaching the parables. He and the twelve needed rest so they hop in a boat and off the go.
Only this time it wasn’t the people who interrupted the peace. It was a storm on the water.
While that storm was crashing over the boat, and sending everybody else into a panic, Jesus continued to sleep. It wasn’t until he was woken up to do something that he calmed the waters. (and maybe he dozed back off afterward, who knows!) Even though he had work to do with those waves creating havoc, he still rested first because he was darn tired after teaching. Jesus needed stillness and he knew it.
If we are ever going to have a fighting chance of hearing God’s calling for us, we need to rest and be ready to receive his words. We need the stillness and we need silence. And if we are interrupted by the baby crying or a call from a panicked loved one, we need to deal with it and then go back to resting as soon as possible. This is only easier said than done if we push aside the call to silence in favor of engaging in the culture of warp-speed busyness. Look for the stillness. You will find it in the woods, on the water, in your favorite chair or locked in the bathroom where the kids can’t fly through the door. There is a spot for you to be still. Seek it out and practice a few minutes of connection with God. I promise he will be there for you as long as you are quiet enough to listen.