Hearing God in the Silence

On Tuesday of this week, I took a long overdue, much needed day off of work. It was a day of recovery and recuperation. It was the result of two lessons learned over the course of a very busy weekend. Lesson One: Rest. Lesson Two: Though you may not hear the voice of God, He is not silent.

– – –

Saturday was scheduled from morning to evening with Homecoming activities at Messiah College, my alma mater. 9:30 AM – brunch at the President’s Residence. 12 noon – office tour. 2 PM – department reunion. 4 PM – concert. 6 PM – soccer game. 9 PM – concert. In between all the events and appointments, I caught up with old friends and met new people but hardly took time to stop and just enjoy being on campus. I left campus at 11 PM tired and sore, trying to navigate a hilly campus with incredible knee pain caused by a poor choice in footwear.

Sunday was no less hectic. The day began with Sunday school and church. After service was a quick trip to the grocery store on my way to a friend’s house for the first hour of her birthday celebration. I left her party for a meeting 40 minutes away and hoped to make it back for the last hour of her party. Arriving after all the other guests had left, I ate cake with the birthday girl and then returned home after another 12-hour day away from home.

Of course in the midst of all this busyness and restlessness would be lessons on the necessity of rest. In Sunday school, our topic of discussion was the restless soul. We read Psalm 62:1, which says, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.” In Psalm 46:10, God says, “Be still,” or as some translations put it, “cease striving and know that I am God…” In the main service, these verses were repeated as the pastor opened the service with a prayer for rest. One of the songs was even titled “Still” and borrows its lyrics from these same verses: “Find rest, my soul, in Christ alone / Know His power in quietness and trust / … I will be still and know You are God.”

Despite the bombardment of Scriptures and reminders to rest, I did not cease striving. As Sunday came to an end, I finally laid in bed – and then I began sobbing tears reserved only for series finales and Hallmark commercials. I had reached my breaking point as exhaustion collided with frustration.

During my afternoon meeting, I had become frustrated with myself and with God. It seemed as if I were the only one at that meeting not receiving prophetic words from God. Others had been hearing specific words and phrases that helped guide our group’s future projects and affirm our decisions. They received divine confirmation of hopes and expectations.

I heard nothing.

Why not me? Am I not good enough? Am I not holy or righteous enough to hear God’s voice? Am I doing something wrong? Why is God silent?

As I cried into my pillow, I asked God, “What about my dreams? I always have crazy, vivid dreams. You’ve used dreams in the Bible to communicate, so why not with me? Why allow me to have such dreams if they have no purpose?” But when I woke in the morning, despite my tearful plea, the only thing I remembered of my dream was an awkward squirrel.

By the end of Monday’s time at the office, I had decided to make Tuesday a “mental health day” to recover not only from the physical exhaustion of the weekend but the frustration of Sunday evening. I would finally use some of the vacation time I had accrued over the past 12 months.

When I got home, I picked up the latest issue of Relevant Magazine, which had arrived over the weekend, and flipped through the articles to see what I could read on my day off. There on page 76 was “The Spiritual Importance of Space,” an article about the Sabbath and the necessity of rest. I snapped a photo of the title page and posted it to Facebook, making note of the very fitting nature of the article in the context of Sunday’s lessons and the busyness of the weekend.

Here’s where it all comes together. A friend commented on the photo, saying, “I LOVE it when God speaks to us like that!” And then I realized my friend was right. God DOES speak to us like that! He speaks to each individual person in different ways. To some he speaks in an audible voice, whether loud and booming or in quiet whispers. To others he gives prophetic words, visions, or dreams. This past weekend, I heard God through Sunday school lessons, prayers, songs, and even magazine articles.

I had become so frustrated with the silence of God’s audible voice that I had grown deaf to the many other ways He was trying to speak to me. And the words He wanted me to hear were “Be still. Rest.”

Listen to Hillsong’s “Still”

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