Sep 13, 2021 • Written by Tera Lind
Unproductive Silence: Making Space to Hear from God
I couldn’t hear it.
That still small voice of God.
I laid in my backyard under the large cottonwood trees while the sun shone down, and the breeze rocked my hammock slowly back and forth like a cradle. The only sounds around me were a few birds in a nearby nest and the creek below. This is my happy place. I went here to seek refuge, and yet, it didn’t feel relaxing. It didn’t feel quiet.
I had been fighting noise for months to truly feel quiet, fighting to hear the still small voice of God. Not external noise like turning off the radio and tv (although that’s also needed), but something louder- internal noise.
The kind that turns loudest right after my body stops moving. Right in the moments when I’m seeking rest. The volume turns up- “Am I doing this right?” “Should I have handled that situation differently?” “When am I going to get __ done?” “Am I doing enough or too much?”
“Am I too much?”
I was tempted to climb off my hammock, go back to the house, and get back to my to-do list. Down-time wasn’t seeming to help, and in fact, it seemed to be making it worse. My mind swirled and my chest felt heavy, but something kept me from moving and I fought back the urge to leave. I grabbed my journal and began to jot down all the things swirling in my mind. Reading over the list, I asked myself, “which of these do I have control over” and “which one’s are out of my control?”
Knowing what to do next, I prayed and gave the “not in my control” list to God.
As I set my journal down, I still didn’t quite feel the peace. Our minds are powerful, and the mental grooves are deep, especially mine.
But this time, I chose something different. I chose to lean into the quiet. It felt awkward. It felt long. It felt unproductive. But I chose to set a timer for 15 minutes. No agenda. Just stillness with the Lord. To give Him room in my mind and my soul to breathe. To speak. For me to listen.
Each time those intruding thoughts powered their way back into my mind, I said what Samuel spoke to the Lord, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” And then leaned back in to hear. Not to get anything from Him, just simply to be in the stillness with God.
And isn’t that what we all really want? A friend to just be with us. To listen. To enjoy the same sunset. To feel the same breeze. To hear the same birds. And to know, even more than any other friend, Jesus will never leave me nor forsake me. That He is always near. And that there is nothing I can do to earn His love more than I already have.
In the quiet, I will choose to listen, to cast my anxieties on Him, and then to delight in the fact that my Father is near and that His love is greater than anything else that will come my way today, or tomorrow.
He is where my true rest and joy come from.
If you too are feeling overwhelmed by your schedule or a soul that feels weary, I want to encourage you. You are not alone. Others, like me, are experiencing this too. There may be a lot going on around you, but find time to listen for His still small voice. His gentle whisper. He’s ready to talk. Let’s be in a posture to listen.
11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave." 1 Kings 19:11-13