I try to pay attention to the disciplines and habits of wise people who have the godly character and rich faith life that I want to be reflected in my own life. Certain disciplines come up again and again in the lives of mature and growing godly men and women.
In recent months, the theme of silence has been resurfacing in books I’ve read (Bill Hybels’ book "Simplify" and Dick Eastman’s book "The Hour That Changes The World," and even Hal Elrod’s "The Miracle Morning") and so when I heard Eugene Peterson talking on the Catalyst Leadership podcast about silence, I listened. When I see a pattern of a certain topic reoccuring in my life, it's a good idea to give it attention.
Not talking? I'm totally good with that. But not filling the silence with podcasts and audiobooks and sermons and music and tv? I'm not good at that. And if I'm being honest, I've been especially dismal at silence recently, instead opting to fill every pocket of dead air.
This morning as my feet tread over spent fireworks from last night's Independence Day celebrations, Eugene spoke through my earbuds about the transformation and change afforded to us when we are willing to make time and space in our lives for God to speak. "We need to shut up," he said quite boldly. Stop talking and listen.
Eugene is right that there is so much noise in our lives that we don't have the space for God to speak to our souls. If there's no dead air, how can I expect to hear God? Of course I hear from Him in my reading and all those other inlets, but then it's like a game of Telephone, going from one person to the next and in the end, something of the message is lost.
I remember years ago, a friend and I went away for a weekend of silence in the mountains. Being young women, we didn't think it was wise to go alone, so we went together but kept silence the entirety of the weekend. Quite honestly, I'm not sure that I've set aside an extended period of silence since then. Sure, I frequently use a friend's words "I'm listening, God" when I pray. But those are but short forays into what I'm certain could be a much richer listening life.
I doubt that it is any coincidence that I just happen to have some days ahead that will afford me the opportunity for silence and aloneness. I intend to make space for listening silence. The suggestion to listen for the questions God asks is one that intrigues me and seems like an exercise worth exploring. So I will "ask the Holy Spirit to breathe into my life and form a mature Christ life" as Eugene suggests, and learn from those who have experienced the value of listening silence in feeding the soul.