“ . . . sit alone and keep silent . . . ” (Lamentations 3:28).
This is probably the most difficult task to undertake in this day and age. Not the sitting alone part; that most of us are quite adept at doing, our myriad devices enabling our self-imposed isolation. It's the keeping silent part that gets me. I’m finding it more and more difficult to be silent. Not physically, which is easy, again thanks to the afore-mentioned devices that mute us while simultaneously filling our eyes, ears, and minds with endless noise. It's quieting down mentally.
Recently a dear friend exhorted a group of us to learn to wait on the Lord. She explained how waiting involved staying silent and listening to hear God speak. It was not a “prayer time” where we gave God our list of current crises, nor was it a “Bible study.” It was exactly what it stated – waiting (or rather sitting alone in a room in quietness) to hear God speak. Just listening to her explain this made it sound like she was talking about some supernatural (read: crazy, out-there) experience, which it isn’t. The Bible clearly tells us time and time again to wait on the Lord. It’s amazing how much of wonder and awe our generation seems to have lost!
I decided to put it into practice immediately. That evening, my daughter was asleep, my husband was returning late, and my phone was on silent – basically everything in place for an evening of quietness. I sat down in a comfy chair and began to wait. And as the silence enveloped me, the voices in my head began to speak. No, I do not have multiple-personality disorder; I’m talking about the various thoughts that I’d been ignoring throughout the day that finally got a word in edgeways -
“I wonder how long before God starts to speak . . . ”
“Is this a good idea?”
“I hope this works.”
“I wonder how long its been since I started . . . ”
“Should I read the Bible before, or after?”
“I really need to clear up the kitchen.”
“I wonder if I’ve got any messages . . . Maybe I should check my phone just once.”
“I really should start exercising.”
And it went on and on until the cacophony in my head was enough to drive me insane. Every two minutes I had to stop myself from wandering off mentally, and focus my mind on God again. Finally, out of sheer frustration I told God this waiting in silence business didn’t seem to be working for me, so would He please give me another assignment.
And that was when He reminded me of the verse in Lamentations. He had quieted me once before with this verse and He did so again. What blessed peace!
So I decided to give it another try. And this time, it was different. A quietness filled my mind, seeping into my soul. As I thought about God, giving my thoughts free rein to wander along paths of my knowledge of Him, the voices died down. Slowly and gently, I began to sense His presence. And the knowledge of His company filled me with joy and a strange peace. He was here. And He would speak. In the meantime I could enjoy being with Him.
And I did just that.
To me, that was a soul-refreshing encounter. There were no gadgets or gimmicks. Only an honesty of my inadequacy and the longing to just sit beside Him in silence. And in the waiting and the silence, He met me.
I’m slowly beginning to understand what Isaiah was talking about when he said -
Refreshing of the soul doesn’t just happen as we stumble around from one event to another. It takes intentionality and, horror of horrors, discipline. But the fruit that it produces is worth all the pain. The joy of that encounter with our heavenly Father is pure, unadulterated bliss. It brightens your day and lightens your load.
I am reminded of an old Jim Reeves song that my grandfather would hum -
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.