Entering Into Silence to Hear God Speak
“The contemplative discipline of meditation doesn’t acquire anything. In that sense, and an important sense, it is not a technique, but a surrendering of deeply imbedded resistances that allows the sacred within gradually to reveal itself as a simple, fundamental fact. Out of this letting go there emerges what St. Paul called our “hidden self.” Contemplative practice does not produce this “hidden self” but facilitates the falling away of all that obscures it.” - The Silent Land, by martin laird
I’m finding that this vast world of silence with the Lord is really anything but silent, especially upon a long absence from visiting, let alone abiding there - it is initially more like a chaotic tug of war between the brain and soul, of whom the latter deeply longs to hear clearly, above the noise of our own static, the voice of God above all else. It doesn’t come easily, as some say, yet I’m starting to think that maybe 𝓌𝑒 just aren’t easy - but more like complicated, distracted, overgrown children who’ve forgotten what it’s like to understand the simplicity of just being. Maybe living in a world that’s upside down this side of Eden means, what is meant to be easy has become the hardest for man to grasp.
Like, being who we were made to be, and un-being complicated, so we can actually be the beings we already are. Becoming like I AM WHO I AM.
And somehow that sounds confusing, too.
Because, there’s a lot of untangling to be done.
Like a babe being held, we were born somehow with a greater understanding, until we forgot - and more so, learned to fill the silence with clutter and words which don’t have the ability to articulate the groanings’ of the spirit. Jesus said His teachings were meant to be understood by little children and safely move over the heads of those who are buried in narcissism and fancy jargon. Silence, in today’s modern world has become the hardest “achievement” for humans, simply because there is nothing to be achieved in the doing. Is this because we find ourselves more important than God? Priding ourselves in only what we can achieve; not what we are freely given? Has simply being become intangible?
My first thought, (or un-thought), at how to fix this calamity, is to fix who God is to us personally. He needs to be restored to His proper place in our hearts. When He is first silence becomes easy, because there is no longer anything to achieve since Christ has accomplished it all. And furthermore there is nothing consequential to say until we learn to hear Him speak. Hmm...
But how do we restore to proper order that which has gotten skewed, much to our own detriment? Silence with the Lord is a part of what we were designed to need and a necessity to our makeup, (arguably as much if not more than air, water, food, etc. - and we have seen God sustain, without these physical “necessities” for extended periods, those who uniquely gave much of their time to Him). When we don’t nourish this vital component of ourselves, by being with Himself, everything else is in vain. Everything else ceases to be balanced, and nothing else really matters. Upon Him alone, “we move and breathe and have our being.” Apart from Him, we are nothing.
So what do I find more important than being with Him? Apparently a lot of things take precedent. But I want to want Him to be first and foremost above everything. Do you want to want it too? So then how can we change this?
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” (Matthew 19:26).
Here are some steps I am taking to follow Jesus’ words and apply them to my life. Not as “self-help,” but just because sometimes my scattered brain likes lists.
Surrender: When I remind myself of the futility of my own efforts to do everything in my own strength, or anything at all for that matter, it becomes quite clear again: I’m not made to operate apart from Him. And I am not with Him if I don’t know His voice, listen to Him, or surrender to Him. In His image I am made, and “without him nothing was made that has been made,” (John 1:3). We aren’t meant to do anything in our own strength, especially the big stuff. We can’t fight the flesh on our own. Instead we have to lay it all at His feet: our idols, our inadequacies, our weaknesses, and need I say this now more than ever - our distractions.
Prayer: Hand in hand with surrender is praying for God to work in us and through us, and sometimes before even getting to this point is praying to want to change. My prayer is all of the above. Im hungry and I am praying He will increase that hunger. We are constantly battling the flesh - yet freedom has already been won. We are just still operating in our old fleshly bodies more often than not, because that is what we are used to. But freedom is there - we might just need to pray for Him to help us walk in it. And then we take action by making prayer an intention and a part of our daily lives. There is no quick fix or way around this discipline. Being with the Lord is the only way to get to know Him and to hear His voice.
Read His Word: Have you ever heard the saying, “if you want to hear God speak to you, read His Word. If you want to hear God speak to you audibly, read the Word out loud”? I believe it was Justin Peters that said this. And it is one of those things that is so simple and yet profound that it makes me laugh every time I come across it. Sort of an internal chuckle. But to further this concept, I find that the more I read His Word and know it, the more it comes to me when I need it. It’s like God is applying His Word applicably into my life at the right time and in the right situation when I actively read and chew on what He has to say as a discipline. Like training in karate doesn’t create an opportunity to fight, but it serves helpful if one has to defend themselves. The Word is alive and says “it will not return void,” (Isaiah 55:10-11). Not only does it change the reader, but it reads us as well, revealing to us our hearts and the very Heart of God.
Abide: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing,” (John 15:5). We are told by Jesus that He would give us “living water” to drink, and that by believing and abiding in Him, out of our very, inner-most being would flow rivers of living water. He was speaking of the Holy Spirit, who abides in all who have been born again! This means we can have access to the living water always - its closer than our own breath, because it flows through us! But abiding is a state of being that we don’t all tap into as Christians, even though it is available. According to Merriam Webster, abide is to “remain stable, or in a fixed state.” Fixed on Jesus is where we want to stay - He wants us to abide in Him as He will abide in us. If we fix our eyes on Him, He stabilizes us and fixes our state of being to be more like Him. If we become in tune with the Spirit within us, we are more than satisfied - we are overflowing! WOW! Yes, please!
Make Time: Find time to get silent with the Lord. This is a discipline we have to make a priority in our lives. For me personally, yoga has been an amazing tool to get still, get silent, and be present in His presence. It’s the main reason I practice. To cultivate a discipline, however it looks for us individually in our walk with the Lord, takes initiative on our part. He is always waiting, always available, and always with us. We often have to just stop and notice. And what a rich reward we get for such a small cost on our part. Jesus promises whatever we give to Him, He will give back to us a hundredfold. (Mark 10:31) And what is more valuable than our time? Almost nothing. It is by far the most valuable thing we can offer Him, yet the most difficult for us to give (and arguably the most mis-used of all our assets).
Since He is the author of our time and sovereign in our lives, taking time to be with Him is not only the least we can offer, but also the most rewarding in return. He knows this, designed us to need it, and longs for us to act on it.
Make Space: I like to think of my time with God almost like a date. Much like setting time aside is vital to intentionally being with God, setting a space creates a mood to enjoy being with Him. For example, I like to put on soothing instrumental music (current favorite). Ironically this isn’t silent, but it seems to silence all the other chatter in my head and brings me back to the present. I will sometimes roll out my mat, take out my bible, and have a relaxing herbal tea. Or if I am out in nature, I think of God as taking me on a date: he has created the lovely sounds of birds in the background, the backdrop is always awe inspiring, and He is breathing in and through His creation with me. I want my time with Him to be special, and God is the master at this if we make space to experience the sacred with Him.
The silence is where we can hear God speak and He is waiting for us to join Him there, be present, and listen. To commune with Him in intimacy is not only our greatest longing, but what He wants to experience with us. Selah.