At the national broadcasters convention in Dallas some years ago I was fascinated with a display. It was by an innovative sound proofing company and it was twelve feet long. It was a small hallway that was lined with baffled foam pieces. Open at both ends, what fascinated me was as you walked in the entrance and turned right, after two steps you heard absolutely nothing. I mean it was as quiet as cave. The unique design filtered out all the sound in the noisy convention hall even with the end doors wide open.
I often wish I could surround my life with such foam tiles. In 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah endured three separate challenges few of us have had to endure one at a time, let alone all three. Winds so fierce it broke stones apart were followed by an earthquake, then a fire. It was in the aftermath of these calamities, overwhelmed he heard God’s voice described as “still and small.”
How in the midst of our chaotic lives can one ever hear that same voice for ourselves? Today as I ran appointments, I had a car pull up beside me blaring music so loud my molars were involuntarily dancing. As I sat in a fast food restaurant the overhead music of screaming guitars and voices was more than I could take. Where can one find quietude anymore?
I visited an upscale church of a friend of mine who touted a revitalized church service with a band and energetic praise music. As I saw people singing, dancing, and jumping up and down I found the remarks of my pastor friend amusing. For at the end of the song service he said, “You all must listen to God’s still small voice.” With my ears ringing throughout the service for it’s shouting and singing, and two hours thereafter, I figured I’d have to wait till evening to tune into that “still” voice. When he inquired how his service compared to mine, I told him, his was on steroids in comparison.
So how important is silence to you? I recall the story of a man who had come to church alone and as he walked up the front stairs the pastor asked him, where’s your wife? Turning around a bit befuddled and seeing his car empty he exclaimed, “I must have left her at home. Thank goodness preacher, I thought I was going deaf.”
Seek out moments to be quiet this week, you may be surprised by what you hear.
I love stillness, broken only by the ticking of the grandfather clock, a bird’s song, my own heartbeat. I’m reminded of a favorite quote of mine: “When every voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God.” DA 363; and Ps. 46:10. (The “silence of the soul” not to be confused with Spiritual Formation’s “silence,” of course. 🙂 )