Fighting for Silence
A devotional by Jessica Brodie
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
— 1 Kings 19:12-13 (NIV)
I used to be that person who needed the crazy and the chaotic. Silence felt awkward, like there was a space I had to fill.
It took a long time to realize that deep down, all my nervous energy meant something else. In truth, I feared the silence and quiet, for that led to head space, and head space led to boredom, and boredom made all my painful thoughts and melancholy moods harder to ignore.
As long as I had the crazy and chaotic intact, I didn’t need to face my bigger issues. I was too busy to worry about them… so busy, in fact, that I was running around like a fool, working my life away, spinning my wheels but going nowhere.
All that changed when I grew as a Christian. In fact, I noticed that the more time I spent in prayer, in reading the Bible, in thinking about and centering my life on God, the more I began to crave the silence. In fact, I wanted anything except the crazy and chaotic.
I had the opportunity to listen to bestselling Christian author and theologian Francis Chan give some remarks to hundreds of South Carolina men about a month ago (women were allowed, too, but it was designed to be a “men in ministry” event). Chan authored Crazy Love, and he had some powerful words about what it means to be resilient in today’s culture.
As Chan noted, it starts within—being intentional about time with God, which awakens a hunger in our hearts. Then, once we appreciate that alone time, we have to work to carve out distraction-free time.
“You have to fight for silence and figure out a rhythm, figure out quiet, self-controlled, sober-minded prayer before the Lord,” he said.
I believe he is right. I saw tremendous growth in my faith when I began to fight for silence, when I started to push away the clamor of crazy chaos and instead cling to controlled quiet.
I had to let myself feel uncomfortable in the silence, be willing to accept the melancholy of “being bored,” for this to happen, and it wasn’t easy.
But I found that God was there with me in the silence, just as he was for the prophet Elijah with a whisper in the cave (1 Kings 19:11-13). And that silence can be so necessary. For while God is always there, there is something about the centering and reflection that occurs in silence that helps me hear Him better. The silence also helps me understand myself—the true nature of my soul and my desires, feelings, and thoughts—better.
Part of loving myself as a daughter of God is learning to embrace the uncomfortable and the awkward. It’s learning to embrace the quiet.
Wherever you are today, whether surrounded by massive crowds or by yourself, I encourage you to fight for silence in the noisy world. Seek God in the quiet and the stillness. Listen for His voice even as other voices try to drown His voice out.
If you have a special way you do this, I’d love to hear in the comments below. And if you, too used to be a “crazy chaos” cultivator who has come to appreciate the opposite, I’d love to know!
Let’s Pray: Lord, help me to quiet the clamor of the world around me and fight for the silence, a place where I can focus on You and Your perfect way and will. In Your holy and precious name I pray. Amen.
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.
She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com. She has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast.
You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.