I recently heard a sermon about water. The preacher loved fishing and spending time on the water (and under the water), and in part he said:
“I’ve noticed there is often a difference between what’s happening on the surface of the water and what’s happening beneath. On the surface there is turbulence or waves cased by wins-even white-capping. Sometimes the wind above blows so hard that a boat will go upstream, as though the river were flowing backwards. Beneath, however, in the depths, it’s a different world… calmer, and the current always moves in the right direction.”
What a commentary on our world and culture. Even as a Christian, I tend to live mainly on the surface-in clutter and stress and busyness-and I forget the Master of the Wind has a better way, that I can move away from the chaos and turmoil, and find peace.
Silence is God’s first language. ~St. John of the Cross
Think about times in your life when you’ve felt close to God. Sometimes it’s in the midst of tragedy or crisis, when we know He’s holding us up because we have no strength of our own, but for me, my mind goes to times of silence. Gazing up at a beautiful night sky, or resting on a beach with gentle waves at my feet. those are the moments when I can feel His presence in a way that doesn’t happen in day to day life.
“God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.” ~Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Unfortunately, day to day life is where we live most of our time, and we can’t just step outside and onto a beach. So how do we access the peace of Christ in the middle of our normal schedule? How do we go beneath the surface to the calmer world where the current always flows in the right direction? First, we stop talking.
Beneath the surface…
Have you ever considered that God is never frantic or worried? As bad as things are when we look at the surface, He sees the bigger picture and He’s not afraid. He knows all these currents in our lives and in our world are flowing in the right direction, bringing us to the glorious fulfillment of Christ’s return. And He is always inviting us to come and sit with Him and enjoy that same peace and quietness of mind.
Every heresy has an element of truth that has been distorted, and contemplative prayer is no exception. Because silent prayer or meditation is practiced by so many non-Christian religions, it might well be the poster child for deceptive spiritual concepts. Many people, Christians included, see the contemplative practices as proof that all religions have validity and that Christ is not the only true path to union with God and each other. So, if that is the heresy, what is the truth?
The truth, as always, is found in God’s word, and so familiar to us it has become cliche: “Be still and now that I am God.” To me, still means silent, but for many of us that would be a bigger miracle than walking on water. We don’t know how to be silent… about anything. We post our opinions and arguments on social media, we talk just to hear our heads rattle (as Jim used to say to me before he became such a wise husband 😉 ), and sadly, we fail to listen to others, to learn what is happening beneath the surface of their lives. We cannot win others to Christ by forcing our words on them, but stillness of heart and mind will draw the lost and the hurting to us, and then we can offer them the Words of Life.
Be silent and know that I am God. Pause even before your intercessory prayers and let Him guide you before you life your voice to heaven. Let Him show you what is beneath the surface so you can abandon your fears and share His peace… and then share His peace with others. Set your mind each morning to speak as little as possible and practice the discipline of silence until you live the discipline of silence. The world has no shortage of words, but we have a desperate shortage of God, and He can only be found in the silence.
Be still… and listen to God. Be still… and listen to others. Be still… and have a Blessed and Silent New Year. We love you all. Amen.