I’m not well known among my friends for being quiet. I tried a sponsored silence once – I managed 5 hours before I caved. In the car, I listen to music. When I’m home alone, I talk aloud to myself. I don’t like silence.
Silence makes me uncomfortable. Silence means I am alone with my thoughts and surroundings. Silence is the opposite of distraction. Silence is deafening.
I love going to church, and I love spending time with God one-to-one. But when I walk into an empty church, I am overwhelmed by the silence. The enormity of the space, coupled with my footsteps echoing off the walls, leaves me with this profoundly uncomfortable thought: it’s just me and God. There are no barriers to God in an empty church. There are no people, there’s no choir, no organ music, no quiet chatter, no whispered prayers to detract from the very real sense that God is present. And that makes me want to hide away.
But, the truth is that silence is good for us. It stops us from running away from things we need to confront, it gives us a break from the constant noise of our phones, and most importantly, it opens doors for God to speak to us, and it helps us to stay in a place where we can hear Him.
God does sometimes shout, but more often, He whispers. And we can’t hear whispers when we’re on Netflix, or we have our headphones in, or when we deliberately place ourselves in busy places.
God does sometimes shout, but more often, He whispers.
God drew people up mountains just to get them away from the distractions around them. He drew Moses away from the thousands of grumbling Israelites to give him the Ten Commandments. He whispered to the depressed and despairing prophet Elijah in a cave on Mount Horeb. And He speaks to you and me when we give Him space.
Whispers connote intimacy. We shout because people are far away from us, whether that’s because of physical distance, or because we feel they are far away from understanding us. We shout to the world on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, about our opinions and who we are, trying to get people to understand. But we whisper when people are close. We whisper when we know people can hear us. And whispers are just between the whisperer and the whisperee. They are intimate.
God longs to be intimate with us. It seems He spends most of the Old Testament shouting to His people, a people who are deaf to His cries. God’s whispers are for the select few who allow themselves to draw near to Him. And then, Jesus. We know that Jesus spent lots of time preaching to large crowds, but we also read about how often He spent time alone with God, or hanging out with His close group of friends. We see intimacy in the person of Christ.
However, we can’t avoid the fact that God gave us voices. He gave us voices to praise Him, to communicate with Him, to tell of His good deeds, and to speak up for those who have no voice. Silence prepares us to speak up and speak out. Silence gives us time to gather our thoughts, to think before we speak. God asks us to speak out on behalf of the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden. We cannot keep God to ourselves.
“Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you”
Take part in our sponsored digital silence, Blackout, this coming weekend. Spend a whole weekend offline, away from tech and the distractions of Instagram, Facebook and Netflix in order to raise prayer, money and awareness for those forced to be silent because of their faith.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.