Speaking In The Silent Times
When Moses was in the wilderness for 40 years before he returned to Egypt, what did he hear? When Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, what did he hear? When Paul was in the wilderness being detoxed of all his religious training, what did he hear? When Deitrick Bonhoeffer was in Nazi concentration camps, what did he hear? When Daniel was in the Lion’s Den, other than a roar from a lion once in a while, what did he hear? When Joseph was in prison for a trumped up charge by Potiphar’s wife, what did he hear? When Mother Teresa sat with the sick and lowly in Calcutta India, what did she hear? When the disciples gathered, frightened, who were receiving reports that their Messiah who had just been crucified on a Roman cross, what did they hear? When John was exiled on the Island of Patmos, what did he hear in those early days? Before the days of Samuel, what did Eli the High Priest hear in order to lead his people?
How comes, some of the most powerful spiritual moments of learning and understanding God come when man can’t hear a thing. What is it about the stillness, the quietness, the solitude of silence. Simon & Garfunkel questioned the essence of secluded solitude in their hit song “Sounds of Silence”: “Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again. Because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping, and the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains… within the sound of silence.”
In those dark moments of despair, of hopelessness, of questionable doubts testing one’s faith, when crying out to the Lord only produces serene silence, “a vision that was planted in my brain, still remains.” It is during those times that the seeing and understanding the vision of faith becomes more important than the hearing. In those moments of silence, often God tends to “reveal” Himself to us is ways other than oral.
Hebrews 11:1 states: “Now faith is the assurance (or substance) of things hoped for (or expected), the conviction (or evidence) of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained (or obtained) approval.” (New American Standard Bible). Ironically faith does not come from our physical sense of seeing nor hearing, only through our spiritual sense of believing for those things one cannot physically see or hear! When the tangible caused by sight and sound are taken away, what do you have left? “Faith”, the intangible!
I often wondered how Helen Keller functioned without sight or sound in her life during her early childhood of wonder, exploration, and trying to figure out life. In the Miracle Worker, Ann Sullivan breaks through Helen’s world of darkness and quietness at a water well, pumping water over Ann while spelling w.a.t.e.r through sign language with her hand. Something clicked in Helen’s head, and the rest is history as Helen Keller went on to earn a college degree while changing the world. Jesus breaks through the spiritual darkness and quietness of a Samaritan woman’s life also at a watering well when explaining that spiritually he was the drink, the water of life that she needed to have in order for her spiritual life to be opened to the truths of the kingdom of God. Something too clicked in her spirit, and the rest is history as she brings revival not only to herself, but to her town, family, neighbors, and Samaritan race.
It was difficult, in fact excruciating painful, for Moses to wonder as a solitary shepherd for 40 years after being the favored of Pharaoh, for Paul to have his whole theology thrown out the window after being knocked off his horse for zealously opposing this Jesus who accepted him so gracefully, for Jesus to set aside his earthly agenda for his Father’s heavenly purpose to learn obedience to His heavenly Father, for Deitrick Bonhoeffer to question his faith and purpose when in the midst of the Hell Hole of a Nazi Concentration Camp, for Daniel to lay aside his fear of hungry lions when in the midst of faith, for Joseph to suffer in prison when judged unfairly, for Mother Teresa sitting in the midst of poverty and sickness knowing Jesus is their Provider and Healer but physically not seeing it, for the disciples when their visions and dreams seem to be smashed as their leader faces the cruel death of crucifixion, for John who walked with Jesus, led his believers in this new movement of God, now to be isolated from everyone and everything, for Levi to be the spiritual leader of Israel, yet unable to hear the voice of God for himself.
It is excruciating painful when we, as believer’s in Jesus Christ, go through such times of isolation, times of seclusion, times of trials, times of silence, yet it is in those very moments of darkness, despair, hopelessness, and brokenness that something spiritually clicks, and we obtain a new understanding, a new truth, a new hope, a new purpose, a new vision a new drink of living water through faith. A vision of faith is often solidified during those moments of solitude. As painful as it sounds, we, as believers in Jesus, must learn to embrace those solitary moments of silence when God seems so distant, not present, not listening, not being evident, for in those moments faith, the evidence of things not seen nor heard, become the vision that anchors our faith in Jesus Christ.