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Hearing Silence!

Posted on July 15th, 2008

When God appeared to Elijah after his flight from Jezebel and suicidal depression, he told him to stand and wait for the presence of the LORD to pass by. God did not appear in ways he had showed up in the past. God was not in the wind (as with Job), an earthquake (as in Mount Sinai with the giving of the Ten Commandments), or fire (as in the burning bush with Moses). God finally revealed himself to Elijah in “a sound of sheer silence.” (See 1 Kings 19:12). The translation of God coming “in a sheer silence” does not capture the original Hebrew but what could the translators do? How do you hear silence?   God saying” Don’t go back to the safety and predictability of the past, of what I did then, or how I did it.” God speaks to Elijah in a very new, strange, uncomfortable way —  silence.   This is so different than my background that I still continue to hear the voices, “You’re wasting your time. What are you crazy? There is so much to do. Those distractions… etc.” . While I am in my 5th year of embracing silence as an increasingly large part of my life with God, it continues to feel uncomfortable to me, like I am betraying my evangelical “fathers”. These past 2 weeks at NLF I have closed our worship services with a 5-7 minute Daily Office, with 1-2 minutes of silence to start and close, a Scripture, a short devotional, and a question. Again, the impact was startling. Probably the largest response I have heard from people (as they have begun to use the new booklet “Begin the Journey with the Daily Office”) has been the power of the silence twice in their day -short as it may be. I am a bit stunned by people’s positive response. It also confirms for me how badly our people need leadership and tools to walk out what following Jesus today. This is very challenging to walk out- not just for me but for all of us! I wonder if this is not one of the cutting edge issues for us today? How is God inviting you, too, to stand and to wait like Elijah? Remember, He also wants to speak to you out of the “sound of sheer silence.” �

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