By Matt Dawson
There is a popular song from the 60’s called “the Sound of Silence.” It’s recently been covered by a rock band named Disturbed, and it’s a powerful rendition of the song. The meaning of song itself has been lost, as it was originally written to address a time when people’s minds were being influenced by digital and visual input rather than personal interaction and the arts. I’m not sure of the original intent of the lyrics, but the ominous chord structure brings me to a place of FEELING the tension that SILENCE brings to each and every one of us.
Let’s face it, the majority of us don’t like silence. REAL SILENCE.
Sure, some introverts would rather crawl into a nook with a good book, but that’s not actual silence. That’s just LESS NOISE.
I’m talking about the kind of silence when our mind STOPS spinning like an over-worked hard drive and we remain in a place where the only thing echoing off the walls is silence itself.
Here are 3 reasons I believe we hate silence.
- I know why we don’t like it – it feels POINTLESS. In a culture as driven as we are, doing nothing just FEELS WRONG. To allow ourselves to STOP THINKING and STOP MOVING, we feel like every second could be used for something better.
- We also don’t like what we hear. That’s because we hear NOTHING. No praises, no critiques, no sarcastic phrases, no passing whims of conversation about weather or football. At least at the beginning, it’s NOTHING.
- After we hear nothing, we are left with our own thoughts, feelings, and voices. Many of us don’t want to know what is really going on under the surface of our daily facade. For many, it’s depression, anger, or hopelessness in our lives. For some, it’s a time of peace and communion, but those others thoughts still rise up to distract us.
However, I do believe that SILENCE is necessary for all of us to practice, experience on a deeper level, and do it on at least a weekly basis. I struggled with this experience over my sabbatical this past summer as I placed myself in solitude for a week – all the while knowing I was going to struggle with it.
Jesus made it a habit to consistently GET AWAY from it all for prayer and rest.
Luke 5:16 “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”
Luke 6:12 “One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.”
Mark 1:35 “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.”
I know it might be a struggle, but here are the 3 of the BEST REASONS to Seek Silence & Solitude on a weekly basis.
- Soul Rest – One of the most powerful things that happens when we stop moving, stop thinking, and stop fronting is SOUL REST! The primary purpose of silence and solitude is to REST. Don’t even approach it with an expectation of that God’s going to reveal some deep spiritual thought to you. He might, but that shouldn’t be on our agenda! It’s not about what YOU’RE GOING TO DO… It’s about what GOD IS ALREADY DOING AND WANTS TO DO IN YOU. It’s Soul Rest in Jesus!
- Clear Identity – When we submit to silence, we REMOVE all of the things we use in life to prop us up, cover the sides we don’t want people to see, and mask our motives. When we get silent, our identity is revealed. WHO WE REALLY ARE SHOWS UP. Maybe that’s a struggle for you if you don’t know who you are or you don’t have a relationship with God. Nothing changes if we don’t know who we are. We can’t love our wives better, parent our kids better, or even succeed in enterprise if we don’t know who we are. Understanding our identity (in Christ) is the foundation we need to recognize and remember every week (daily even) so we can grow and change into the people we desire to be.
- Hear God – We’re in a series that’s all about How We Hear God and why it matters to our faith. Many of us pray one-sided prayers with requests and complaints, and we never take the time to LISTEN for His response. This takes time, rest, SILENCE. God can get our attention – that’s not an issue for Him. However, He desires to meet with each of us and talk… that’s what prayer is. A conversation with a friend! If we want to Hear God on a more consistent basis, we need to find those times of silence and solitude to read His Word, pray, and spend time listening to what God has to say about what’s happening in our hearts and lives.
I’m still working on all of these things in my life. If you’ve got time, ask me about my one week alone on a solitude retreat this summer. It was awful and amazing. It was everything I was worried about, and it was better than I could have imagined. It deepened my resolve for more time in silence and solitude in my daily life to find my soul’s rest, remember who I am in Him, and hear what God wants to say to me personally.
I challenge you to do this today!