We can become so busy with the demands of life that we are consumed in the noise of living. Phones ringing, messages pinging, news and videos playing. Constant voices, lots of words – but limited communication. How can you find peace in the sound of silence?
Before we get into the sound of silence, welcome to “Mornings with Bishop Robert” — I’m grateful for each one of you who shows up every morning; you’re the reason I share these short devotionals.
Yeah, I know, here I am pouring forth more words and more sounds — trying to get to silence. It almost seems counter-intuitive. But the place we are actually trying to get to is a place of peace, even when surrounded by the sounds of life; not just a lack of noise. It’s a place of inner silence; of calm in the midst of the storm.
Thanks to Simon & Garfunkel, even the mention of “the sound of silence” will evoke memories in many, and the haunting greeting, “Hello darkness, my old friend.” I’m told that Paul Simon locked himself in his family’s bathroom night after night in the wake of the assassination of President John Kennedy. He was 22 and grappling with a world caught up in madness, where people ignored important words and made “neon gods” that would distract them from their pain. The lyrics express Simon’s confusion, and are hard to untangle; with the sound of silence presented both as the problem and the answer, and the sound of silence first “a cancer” and a possible solution. But silence alone is a remedy that leaves deep and nagging questions.
Then along comes today’s verse that brings meaning to the silence and direction to the questions; it says BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.
The answer to the questions of life is not found only in silence for silence’s sake. While silent contemplation may be able to eliminate physical noise, it will not answer the questions swirling inside us. Some of us fight internal hurricanes and tsunamis, overwhelmed by fears and questions we struggle to comprehend, let alone solve. This is where the power of God and the presence of God can enter and take control.
A few weeks ago my son and a group of people were crossing a lake in a small boat. As can happen in many parts of the world, a storm arose without warning. Suddenly facing 8 to 12 foot waves, the small craft was being tossed wildly. People were crying, praying and planning what they would do if the boat sank. Many were in panic but some, prepared by both training and experience, maintained their inner peace in the middle of the storm. So how do you prepare for life’s storms?
I’ve found that the key is a consistent time of prayer and scripture reading. Deliberately making time to sit with God just like you’d have an appointment with someone else, a time where the agenda is deliberate exposure to Him, His word and His Spirit. In fact, many people even refer to this as their “quiet time.” One of my favorite passages of scripture is found in the book of psalms, it says, “For God alone, my soul in silence waits.” Why sit in silence and listen for God? Because our hope is found in Him. Because He loves us, and enjoys spending time with us. And, perhaps most importantly, because He still speaks; and therefore we should listen. We must listen.
He says, BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD
One night Jesus and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee when a violent storm arose. Tired from a day of ministry and teaching, Jesus was asleep in the stern. As the waves were crashing over the boat, filling it with water and threatening to sink it, they woke Jesus in a panic, telling Him they were all about to drown. Jesus speaks to the storm with a one-word command — SILENCE! And with that one word the storm instantly ceased. No more waves or wind, no more rain. His next command was an instruction to stay peaceful. We miss it in the English but it’s clear in the Greek, where HIs second command could be translated “Remain still.” Two words are all it took. The words were necessary. The disciples didn’t have the skill to deal with the storm, their years on the lake were not enough to get them across. If Jesus had not been in the boat, they would have probably died.
But He was there, because they knew Him. They were His disciples, and they were deliberately following Him. They went where He went, they took time to listen when He spoke and to act on what He said. They had been with Him enough that they recognized His voice when He spoke to them. Their relationship led to proximity, and His availability when the need arose. Take time to do the same. Build the relationship day after day. Learn His voice.
So how do you prepare for life’s storms? One way is to make sure Jesus is with you in the boat.