Posted on June 29, 2013
The boisterous cheering at large races makes it hard to find silence amongst the miles. In the spring of 2012, however, I encountered some quiet in a marathon that briefly wound through small towns with tree-lined, two-lane roads. There was little room for spectators. I was surrounded by runners, but it was so quiet I could hear our footfalls. I was running with Beth, a girl I met that morning. Although she lives states away and we rarely connect, Beth has become a cherished friend. After nearly four hours of constant, animated conversation before the race and during the first several miles, we eventually fell into a comfortable silence, listening to the footfalls together. There was comfort in our togetherness, and the silence didn’t rock our boat. Most of my cherished memories of that day involve loud cheering, celebration, and conversation, but I especially treasure that brief moment of silence.
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
Our family flitters about, hour by hour, day by day, from activity to activity, meeting to meeting, event to event, etc., etc. We’ve chosen our agenda and, for the most part, we fill our days with activities and commitments that are positive, productive, and fun. But, the days are full and loud. If quietness and trust are our strength, we have some training to do. And, squeezing in a boot camp for silence won’t be sufficient. All things take diligent, continuous practice, and sitting in silence to reflect or simply “be” is no exception. Sometimes, when I find an ounce of silence, I get antsy. I panic about what I’m not doing instead of focusing on the glory of nothingness. I start to wonder how I can maximize the silence, and before long, it’s loud again. And, why is it we’re often uncomfortable sitting in silence with others? The ability to share a silent moment with another is a blessing. We’re filling our days so we don’t miss anything, but as we do, we’re missing much. No matter how wonderful, faithful, or holy our activities are, if silence is absent, we’re not getting stronger. If we’re not getting stronger, we’re either plateauing or getting weaker, and neither is acceptable. It may seem silence is wasted, unproductive time, but the humbleness of the nothingness and the opportunity to sit with God and simply listen strengthen us in a unique way that cannot be replicated. Let’s stop talking every once in a while, turn off the radio in the car, sit on the porch quietly for five minutes, and ask God to fill our silence with what He wants us to hear. He will lead us where we need to be … listening to the locust on a summer night, hearing runners’ footfalls, or heeding His voice.
Dear God, please help us prioritize time for silence and open our hearts to hear what You have to say.