I recently spent several hours in a hospital sitting area, waiting on a family member (no worries, it was a simple procedure with a successful outcome).
I brought all sorts of things to do because I don’t “wait” well. As I looked around, the other people seemed so calm. Most were reading a magazine, holding a Kindle or other ereader, talking softly or just sitting.
I, on the other hand, had my laptop out, Blackberry at the ready, wifi connected, and my Kindle Fire handy. I was fidgety and had enough to keep me busy all day. Then it occurred to me, what is wrong with me?
I need to learn the art of rest. Of quiet.
I have struggled with this topic and have written previously (click here) about Sabbath. I stay busy and connected constantly – working, checking email, Facebook, Twitter or blogs, and planning other projects or tasks I need to get done. A “day off,” whether it’s a weekend or a vacation day, is still “planned” – jog, errands, cleaning, project, etc. etc. etc. I rarely even take rest days from running.
And in all of this activity, how can I be attentive to God?
I need to learn to be still. I need to learn to quiet my mind so that I can hear God’s whisper.
But how does one do that? How do I quiet the noise in my mind to listen to Him?
For someone wired like me, even that becomes a “project”!
In his book “The Leadership Ellipse,” Robert A. Fryling states that “The great African theologian Augustine observed that we don’t open our arms to receive from God because they are already so full with our own concerns.”
I think that can relate to our minds, as well. I find that often when I pray, I’m so busy talking and asking, that I don’t often wait and listen.
Fryling also says that “Sabbath keeping is not a panacea for all of our anxieties and discontents, but it is that tangible, weekly reminder that God is God and we are not.”
No matter how much I worry and fret over things, in the end, I really have no control because it is all God’s timing. What if instead, I nourish my spirit with quiet contemplation of scripture and the many blessings God has showered on me? Would that help me be more effective as an ambassador of Christ?
My pastor, Chris Joiner, recently wrote a blog on The Gift of Silence, in which he says:
“If the church has a place in the coming so-called “post-Christian” era, surely it will be in the cultivation of a counter-cultural wisdom, an antidote to frenetic busyness and noise. Perhaps one of the gifts we can offer this bone-tired world is the gift of silence.”
I look forward to exploring ways to seek the gift of silence, both personally and as a church family.
At last year’s Global Leadership Summit simulcast through Willow Creek Church, one of the speakers was Mama Maggie Gobran, who is the founder & CEO of Stephen’s Children Ministry in Cairo, Egypt, and a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. This gentle, unassuming lady spoke of silence, and her words have stuck with me since.
“The secret is silence
Silence your body to listen to the words
Silence your tongue to listen to your thoughts
Silence your thoughts to listen to your heart beating
Silence your heart to listen to your spirit
Silence your spirit to listen to His spirit
In silence, you leave many but be with the One.”
Are you up for the challenge? How will you seek silence?