"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
March 16, 2016
I heard an audio recording of an awesome sermon my nephew's wife preached at her church a week ago about the silence of God. I have been thinking about that ever since. This devotional isn't a copy of her sermon, but thoughts that God has placed in my heart regarding that topic. Actually, what I thought would be one devotion has turned into two, so I will continue on this subject next week.
There is a difference between silence and quiet. Silence is the complete absence of sound; while quiet is making little or no noise. When you're in a room with complete silence, it goes beyond quietness. It's almost as if you can hear yourself breathe. But you can be in a quiet room where there is very little sound, but hear whispers and footsteps and various rustlings.
Both silence and quiet are difficult for us to maintain for very long. We sometimes think we're good at this, but we're really not. For example: Let's suppose that we're in a church service and the pastor asks everyone to bow their heads and take a few moments to contemplate the message we just heard, or asks us to take a few minutes for silent prayer.... without any music playing! What happens after a couple minutes of silence? People start getting restless! You will see a few start to peek and look around, to see what everyone is is doing. Women will start digging in their purse for chapstick or hand lotion. Men start flipping through hymnals or looking at their phone to see what time it is or looking through whatever paper may be available. If a baby starts making noises, it will garner much attention. You'll hear people wriggling and rustling around in their seat. Invariably, someone will slip out to use the restroom. We start looking at the preacher to see what he's doing and wonder how long he's going to stand there without speaking. What we perceive as a long period of quietness makes us antsy! "Come on, let's sing a song".... "let's go ahead and dismiss so we can get up and go home".... "someone say or do something"!!
We also have a hard time being quiet during our devotional and prayer time, waiting on God and listening to what He may speak to our heart. Honestly, most of us will very likely never hear an audible word from God. But He speaks through laying someone on our heart to pray for, giving us a scripture, impressing a thought upon our mind, giving us peace about a situation, giving us wisdom for a decision we need to make, or whispering words into our spirit. But often we are so busy talking to God and telling Him what all we need Him to do... or trying to figure out how He's going to answer our prayer.... or what we're going to do if God doesn't do something soon... or thinking what's going on with our day..., that we often don't give God time to speak to us. It's like holding a one-sided conversation with someone. We walk up to them, say what we want to say, then turn around and walk away without giving them time to respond.
In 1 Kings chapter 19, we read a story about Elijah, who was a prophet of God. In the previous chapter was the account of the face off between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. God sent fire that consumed the sacrifice that Elijah had prepared, proving to all that He was the one true God. Then Elijah prayed for rain to break the three year drought and famine that had consumed Samaria, and God sent a rainstorm.
Following that, King Ahab went home and told Jezebel about Elijah killing the prophets of Baal and all that he had done. She sent this message to Elijah: "May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them."
Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. Seems ironic that he had just witnessed a great miracle; God answering his prayer and sending fire to consume his sacrifice, and afterwards sending rain to end the drought; then immediately he goes into panic mode when Jezebel threatens his life. But don't we do the same thing? God will answer our prayer and do something amazing in our life, then something will happen shortly thereafter, and we start to panic. We quickly forget that God just did something awesome in the previous days prior to this happening.
Elijah went alone into the wilderness. He sat down under a tree and prayed that he might die. Apparently, he didn't really want to die, because Jezebel had offered to take his life and he ran away! But then, perhaps he preferred that God just let him die in his sleep instead of being killed. Elijah fell asleep and God sent an angel, who touched him and told him to get up and eat. He looked around and God had even provided the food! At his head sat some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water. He ate and drank, then fell back asleep. Again, an angel of the Lord came and said, "Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you." He got up, ate and drank, and the food gave him strength to travel forty days and nights to Mount Sinai. He found a cave and spent the night there.
Next, God has a conversation with Elijah. He asks Elijah what he is doing there. Elijah says that he has zealously served the Lord, but the people of Israel had broken their covenant, torn down the altars, and killed God's prophets. Elijah said that he was the only prophet left, and they were trying to kill him.
God instructed Elijah to go stand on the mountain. As Elijah stood there, a mighty windstorm hit the mountain; but God was not in the wind. After that, there was an earthquake; but God was not in the earthquake. Following that, was a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire was a gentle whisper. That was God!
Many times we look for God in those loud, destructive, devastating moments. When we have those "windstorm, earthquake, or fire" type of situations, we either turn to God in desperation, or we become angry and blame God. God can use those type of circumstances to draw hearts to Him; but that's not how He often speaks to us on a regular basis. I'm thankful for that, because those type of "loud" situations can be really, really tough and often have devastating consequences.
If we truly want to hear His voice, we will often find it in His gentle whisper. More times than not, we miss what He's speaking to us because we have so much clutter and chaos in our mind. We are so busy trying to figure things out, worrying, fretting, doubting, or just general busyness, that we aren't silent long enough to hear what God wants to say.
Elijah had experienced a great miracle just a few weeks prior to this personal encounter with God. In the hours following his Mount Carmel miracle, Elijah likely felt like he could tackle anything. But in the interim period between Mount Carmel and Mount Sinai, Elijah's faith wavered. It's kind of like us attending a great church service where we experience a mighty move of God and His presence is so strong, and we leave with our cup overflowing and feeling like we can take on anything, through the power and spirit of God at work within us. We are pumped and feeling victorious! Then bam!!
Elijah immediately faced the threat of death after his God encounter on Mount Carmel. Jezebel boldly said that she was going to have him killed. That would be pretty daunting. Elijah took off as fast as he could, and went into hiding. He was devastated and begged God to let him die. What was the purpose of living, if he was going to be killed by this wicked queen, and not be able to fulfill the prophetic role that God had called him to? What was the use of even trying? He was scared, depressed, perhaps feeling a tad sorry for himself, and felt hopeless. He felt as if he were alone, being the only prophet left. But even in Elijah's despair, God sent His angel to feed and minister to him twice. We, too, will often face something difficult immediately following seeing God at work; and perhaps even after God has used us to minister or help someone. We may feel like giving up, be discouraged, depressed, hopeless, and think, "What's the use?!" But God will send His Spirit to nourish and minister to us. He won't leave or forsake us.
We may experience fiery trials, and not hear God speak. We may have our life and our world shaken, but we don't hear God speak in that either. We may feel like we've been buffeted by a windstorm, but we don't hear God then either. It's when we get alone with God, turn everything off around us, concentrate on Him, that we will hear Him in the quietness. But we have to stop what we're doing and take the time to be silent and listen!
Psalm 42:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God!" When we lose sight of who God really is; when we feel overwhelmed; when our mind is tumultuous; when our situation feels bigger than what we can handle; then we need to be still and know that God is God! Be still and allow Him to speak to our heart.
I have a difficult time with quiet. I've had to make some long drives with one co-worker or another recently, and we have had long stretches with no conversation. My instinct is to figure out something to talk about to fill in the gaps. But I also know that isn't necessary.
Some quiet from time to time is uncomfortable for me, when there are other people around. But when I'm alone, I can enjoy it, as long as it isn't very long.
The really difficult thing is a long period of total silence. It feels nice for a few minutes, but then I need something, even if it's my own imagination, humming, whistling, or something.
Silence in my mind is nearly impossible for me. Even when I'm relaxing, listening to music I've heard dozens of times, my mind is always wandering. If I try to stay focused on one thing, like music, TV, or a sermon, and don't have anything else to occupy me, I tend to nod off.
One of my favorite places is sitting on a gazebo, looking out into the woods, listening to tree frogs, bugs, and roosters. It isn't quite the same as silence, but can be very calming to my mind. The problem I face then is that I start thinking over all the areas that need mowed, trees that need trimming, etc.
As hard as it is, I do try once in a while to stop and enjoy a few seconds of peace in sound, sight, and thought. I'm not good at it, but it is nice to have as often as I can get it.
(We have eaten this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What's great is that you can adapt it to your own personal taste, or according to whatever ingredients you have on hand; and can make as much or little as you need. So I am giving ingredients suggestions, without amounts, and you can make as much or little as you would need or want.)
Bacon and/or Sausage
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Cook the bacon and/or sausage (you could also used diced ham). Take out of pan and drain on a paper towel. If using bacon, crumble. In the same pan that you cooked the meat, brown the hashbrowns. When they are almost finished cooking, put in mushrooms to soften. Add eggs to the hashbrown/mushroom mixture; salt and pepper, to taste. Scramble, until eggs are cooked. (If you are afraid the eggs won't cook all the way through, you could move the hashbrown mixture to one side of the pan; or you could take it out, scramble the eggs, then add everything together.) Add in meat and stir. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top and allow to melt. Put in individual bowls to serve.
**You could also cook diced green pepper and onion and add to mixture. You could also add salsa.
Sunday is the first day of spring! Actually, we haven't had much of a winter this year, so spring isn't as exciting nor as anticipated as it has been in prior years. When we've had a tough winter with ice and snow, then we anxiously await warmer weather and spring time. But even though we've had an exceptionally mild winter in Oklahoma (I think we only got one dusting of snow on the ground), there is still much that we can look forward to and look for with the changing of seasons. Green grass, flowers blooming, trees budding out, planting gardens, longer days, birds singing..... are some of the things that we can enjoy. One of the most important things that we can joyfully anticipate and eagerly await is Easter. In the next week and a half leading up to Easter, may we all think about and remember the death of resurrection of Jesus. That is what gives us life! That's why we can experience salvation and have that "blessed hope". Let's celebrate the changing of seasons with all the beauty of nature. Most importantly, let's celebrate Jesus -- not just on Easter, but every day.
It is imperative that we interpret the perceived silence of God
based on His character, not our perspective. - Nicole Fairchild
We love you!
Loretta & Jon