I took some time today for silence and solitude. Before you are impressed, you should know that I have been talking about doing this for 2-3 years and, up until now, it was never important enough to make it happen. Some may wonder about the purpose of a day outside the normal routine. For me, it is a decision to put everything aside and tell God, “You are most important and you have my undivided attention.” It’s not all that different than having a meaningful conversation with my wife. If I really want to connect with her and listen to what she is saying (and what she is not saying), I need to eliminate distractions. Some people can focus on multiple things happening at one time but I am not one of those people. If the TV is on in the background, the dog is whimpering and the computer sounds an alert for a new mail message…you’ve lost me. I know, we men are most handicapped in this way. Thus the reason I feel it is important to take time away and I only regret that I don’t do it more often. Even in the midst of the routine. No agenda. No sermon prep or Bible Study. Just prayer, silence and a listening heart.
One reason this discipline is important is because I believe we notice things during times like these that we might otherwise miss. Let me give you an example. I took a walk near a stream. Because we have had quite a bit of rain lately, the water was moving pretty quickly. However, as I sat there, I realized that although the water was moving at the same pace, there were some parts of the river that were noisy and others that were quiet. As I stopped to consider this, I noticed that those areas of the river where the water was boisterous usually had one of 2 things happening. It was either shallow or there was an obstacle in the path of the water. Yet, where the water ran deep, it was almost silent.
This caused me to consider my own life. When I am anxious and the current of my life is disturbed, what I witnessed in nature is often true for me as well. The noise often results from a shallow place in my life or an obstacle in my path. Perhaps I am trapped in busyness and over commitment. Maybe there is a sin issue in my life I refuse to confront. In either case, the shallow place or unyielding obstacle create a disturbance and my heart loses its peaceful tranquility. Believe me…I know when I am in this place. I bet you do to.
Yet, at the same time, if my time in God’s word has been meditative. If I have been submissive to the Spirit so that I walk in response to His leading and avoid the need to run ahead and ask Him to join me. If I have ears to hear and eyes to see what He has prepared beforehand so that I may walk in His ways. Then the river runs deep and my heart has a peaceful flow. I notice, like in the river, the pace of the water can be very quick, circumstance can be difficult and heavy – but a river that runs deep is a river that runs quiet.
I believe it is important for each of us to take the time to stop and worship. That really is what silence and solitude is. We worship that which we recognize as the center and purpose of our existence. And for that person or thing, we sacrifice so that it can be elevated to it’s rightful place of glory. We all know, this person we worship should be God. And yet, we are very familiar with the idols that so easily distract us and how easily our lives become cluttered, shallow and noisy.
Sacrifice some time and agenda items on your task list in order to be silent and listen. And when you see me again, ask me if I continue to do the same.