In the Silence (1 Samuel 3.10 (AMP))

“Then the Lord came and stood and called as at the previous times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”

1 Samuel 3.10 (AMP)

New-fallen snow changes everything in the Cascade Mountains—the delicate flakes stacked neatly on fences, stumps, and even telephone lines—adding an outline in white. The knee-deep snow increases any trek’s difficulty, especially for a young boy and his black Labrador trudging through an open field into the forest cover. I can recall standing at the field’s edge under the fir canopy. I stopped and looked across the open field and the surrounding landscape—mountains, trees, and snow in every direction. My dog looked up, curious why we stopped, as I stood still and listened in the cold. The snow’s brightness was stunning. But what struck me as a young child was the stillness—the loudness of the silence. Absent were the everyday cacophony of sounds of life in the mountains. Even momentarily, it was as if the world paused for a naïve eight-year-old and his canine companion.

Are you seeking direction, a word of comfort, or encouragement in your particular season of life? The difficulty? All the sights, sounds, and dissonance of the world. It can be overwhelming and often draining. We hurry to our shelter, anticipating rest and respite, only to find more responsibilities and commitments. But that is the way it is. Isn’t that what we tell ourselves? To carve out time to pause and spend time with God, we must schedule it on our calendar. We don’t enjoy silence even if we find the time in our over-filled life. It is not familiar. We yearn for quiet but fill our time with noise. Ponder that for a moment.

Elijah, whom James, the brother of Jesus, asserted was a person “even as we are.” (Jas. 5:17 ESV) James’ statement is remarkable considering the busy miracle-filled life of this Old Testament prophet. Recall the account of Elijah and the antagonists, the prophets of Baal, Ahab, and Jezebel. (1 Kings 19) After a busy day filled with turmoil, meeting Ahab, battles at Mount Carmel, and ending the three and one-half-year drought, Elijah flees from the threat of Jezebel into the wilderness, a day’s journey from Beersheba. He ends up in a cave. Despite Jezebel’s proclamation, that she would kill Elijah by the following day. Who shows up? God. The point? Despite the turmoil and despair, even if Elijah had lost focus, the God of the universe showed up. But He didn’t show up in the mighty wind, earthquake, or fire as He had the previous day. God showed up in the pause. He came in a still, small voice—a whisper (1 Kings 19:12). Elijah heard the whisper in the familiar silence, stood at the cave’s mouth, and met with the Lord.

Despite what is happening in our earthquake-wind-filled lives, he is there. He hears our cries, praises, and prayers for others. (Psalm 34:17) He is there to silence every doubt, just as He did with Elijah. Do we similarly listen with the attention and sensitivity as under the canopy of Douglas Firs? Do we want to hear from the Lord even amid the business, the sometimes craziness of life?

Like the eight-year-old child, be still, even for a moment. Close your eyes, look down at the black Labrador sitting at your feet, and then picture the snow-filled landscape. Can you see it? Breathe in the cold. Feel the pause. Listen to the silence.

In our stillness, even momentarily, the world fades. He’s in the whisper. What beauty.

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