Close your eyes for a minute, and listen.
What did you hear? Someone in the background of wherever you are? Music? The rumbling of a nearby car or appliance? Your stomach growling?
Hopefully, mostly what you heard was silence. Or something close. Complete silence is hard to find.
But those quiet sounds that you hear when you're listening for silence are things you might not have noticed if you weren't silent.
Webster defines silence as "the absence of sound" and "a period of time without speech or noise", but those are the second and third definitions of the word. The first thing it says "the condition or quality of keeping still and refraining from speaking".
My two kids are homeschooled. And the Apple of my Eye has, more than once over the course of his career, worked from home. So there have been many times when we were all home, all the time. And we love that. We are a family who generally does everything together: grocery shopping, making dinner, chores. My hubby and I have a queen size bed, and a bathroom with only one sink. A lot of marriages can't take that much togetherness. But we do fine.
But while I'm not a person who often longs for solitude, there have been times when I have longed for silence. I remember once, when my kids were little, my sweet girl saying, "Mom, do you need a piece of quiet?" And I responded, "Yes, I would like a big piece of quiet."
These days, sometimes in the afternoons, when the kids retreat to their bedrooms for awhile, or in the evenings if the three of them happen to be gone, sometimes I'll do something like the dishes, simply because they need to be done, and as the water is running and the dishes are clanking, sometimes behind those sounds, I hear silence. And I think I hear it because I'm not listening to any words ~ mine or others.
And that silence enables me to hear His words.
God speaks to me in many ways, such as through my pastor or other teachers in my life... or through books I read. Mostly, the way God speaks to me is through His Word. And to me, that's the best possible way. I praise Him that He hears my prayers no matter the din around me, but the truth is that a lot of the time I don't think I hear Him very well. But when I am silent, even without the Bible open in front of me, He'll bring His word to my mind. My silence changes my prayer, my reading of the Word, my Quiet Time.
Maybe, if your kids are grown, or off at school all day... maybe if you can close the door to your office, or your spend time in your car... Maybe you come closer to silence than I do.
Or maybe not. Maybe you work at a noisy, busy place, and get home the same time your spouse does, and then there's dinner and the television or the radio or the computer. We live in the time of ipods, cellphones, and "You've got mail". But His is a still, small voice, that we have to want to hear. And whether or not you can achieve silence in your world, you can be silent. And that will be enough.
"The Lord is in His holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before Him"
"It is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord"
"If only you would be silent!
For you, that would be wisdom"
"The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love"