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.

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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”

Wishlist Update: #35 – Chris Cendana

https://twitter.com/#!/ajRAFAEL/status/9254075919

I’ll be honest. Until I saw this tweet from AJ Rafael, I hadn’t heard of Chris Cendaña or his music. I didn’t even realize the two of them would be performing at my alma mater, which is 15 minutes away from my apartment. But then I checked out Chris’ YouTube channel, heard his voice, and thought, “No, he needs to get back onto the lineup.” I wasn’t about to miss out on experiencing that talent in person. I started emailing my multicultural contacts at Messiah College to see if I could change anything. While I didn’t have any influence on the final decision, I was happy to see Chris eventually return to the evening lineup at the Asian Students Association’s API (Asian/Pacific Islander) Night.

For those of you unfamiliar with Chris, he is a Filipino singer/songwriter currently living in Pittsburgh, PA. He started playing music at a young age, beginning with the piano and going on to include percussion, guitar, and turntables. On his YouTube channel, he explains, “I started playing guitar when I was in college at Marshall University around 20 years old, and started singing about a year later when my sister Janelle (who was on scholarship for show choir) was diagnosed with an aggressive case of Multiple Sclerosis.” His online bio goes into a bit more detail:

During Christmas vacation at the age of 20, Chris found his mother’s classical guitar stowed away in a closet. He took it back to college with him and learned to play it by ear.  His friends (who were seasoned musical veterans) told Chris his natural talent with music gave him an edge over many artists.  They urged him to play in public.  Unfortunately, Chris didn’t see a future in this. He decided to compromise this dream and play drums at his church. […]

He ventured onto YouTube, a public video sharing website, as an outlet for his music.  He started by posting videos of his favorite originals and covers.  It didn’t take long to starting making waves on the World Wide Web. On Feb. 29, 2008, his video “Velvet Fingertips” was featured on YouTube’s home page.

The first Chris Cendana song I ever heard (I think):

It is thanks to his videos on YouTube that I developed a love for his music. His soulful voice and musicality come together to turn ordinary covers into renditions as original as his own songs. His covers of “Landslide” and “At Last” have a place on my playlist of favorites and test the limits of YouTube’s replay button. His original songs demonstrate his talent as a versatile musician and producer with a range of styles that transport you to both a dimly lit, bluesy night club and a bustling acoustic coffeehouse. He is a talented lyricist whose words connect with the emotions and experiences of his listeners. One track may break your heart while the next can make you fall in love (sorry, ladies – he’s married!).

me and Chris
With Chris Cendana at Messiah College

In the months following his performance at Messiah College, I watched for new videos on his YouTube channel. While he released some originals and covers, Chris’ online presence was fading. Once again, he had to compromise his dream of music, because his 24/7 on-call job made performing and recording incredibly difficult. In the past couple weeks, Chris began his comeback to music by posting his cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and performing on BlogTV for online viewers (even at 2 am, Chris sounds great).

His comeback grows even stronger with news that Chris now has a manager so he can pursue music full-time! He announced on Facebook, “After much discussion over the last few weeks, I’m happy to announce that I am now under the management of Andre Carter of JAMS Avenue Music Group with the goal of transistioning to music FULL-TIME!” Fans everywhere are so excited for Chris and this opportunity to spend more time doing what he loves. A street team is forming to support Chris and get him more exposure (send an email to andre (at) jamsavenue (dot) com for more details). There is no word when Chris will be able to quit his on-call job and devote his time to being a musician, but we all look forward to the day when he goes full-time. For now, I’ll half-cross this off my wishlist!

Support Chris Cendana
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/chris.cendana
Twitter: https://twitter.com/chriscendana
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/ccendana
http://www.chriscendanamusic.com

Bring Chris Cendana to your city!

“Velvet Fingertips” (Original Song by Chris Cendaña)

“Landslide” (Cover by Chris Cendaña)