Elijah understood that silence and listening are the starting points for true, authentic spiritual leadership. Without it we lead from our own mind and ideas. But the only way to listen is to deeply engage the radical spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude – the most challenging and least experienced disciplines in the church today. Elijah lived in the desert for years – dependent on God alone for food and sustenance without projects or programs. The silence and solitude positioned him to listen and be formed into the leader God desired. The longer he remained in the silence of the desert, the more free he became to follow God’s direction. Studies say that the average group can only bear silence for 15 seconds. Most of our personal lives and church services confirm this. Yet it is essential that silence and solitude become a regular and normal part of our days and weeks. How else. Read more.
The Desert Fathers in the 3rd to the 5th century, following the tradition of Elijah, Moses, and John the Baptist, fled to the silence of the desert to purify their hearts in order to see God. Ultimately, they sought to save the world, and the church, from idolatry. Their wisdom has endured almost 2000 years. The next time you are criticized or slandered, remember these words from Abba John: “One day when he was sitting in front of the church, the brethren were consulting him about their thoughts. One of the old men who saw it became a prey to jealousy and said to him, ‘John, your vessel is full of poison.’ Abba John said to him, ‘That is very true, abba; and you have said that when you see only the outside, but if you were able to see the inside, too, what would you say then?’ How very true.
Today we will launch our first “Silent” sermon at New Life. I will introduce the theme of how God met Elijah in “the sound of sheer silence” (1 Kings 19:10-18) for 5 minutes. This will be followed by a 25 minute power point slide show of images, quotes, and guided silence. We then will close it out with a few words and be dismissed in silence. (www.newlifefellowship.org). What better way to teach a biblical truth than actual experiencing it? I have been preparing for this by reading and gathering insights about silence for the past few months. I am convinced, more than ever, that silence remains one of the most powerful ways God transforms us. As Kathleen Norris once said, “The ordinary, daily practice of silence is a prophetic stance in our world of noise. It is one of the greatest gifts we can offer the world.” The following are a few rich quotes around silence for you to ponder that. Read more.
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. Read more.