Speaking to groups of people often requires asking that they be silent. It doesn’t mean that what they are doing or discussing when the speaker talks is not important, but listening is harder when we’re preoccupied with what we’re saying or doing. Listening happens better when undivided attention is given to the speaker. This natural reality leads me to consider the spiritual question: Are we too busy to listen to the voice of God?

God often speaks in stillness and smallness. If we’re not careful, we can miss what God wants to say to us because we expect God to speak extravagantly in the present like God might have in the past.

Sensitivity has to be cultivated in the fast-paced society that we live in that is often too fast to sense the still, and too saturated to sense the small. When we take the time to center ourselves through silence and stillness, we give God the space to speak to us on God’s terms. Even Jesus took time away to be with God. I can’t help but to notice how in Matthew 15:29, Jesus went up to the mountain and He “sat down there”. If we will learn to get into the presence of God and “sit down there”, by pausing, reflecting, and being in resting, we can provide the platform of silence that God's voice can be best heard through.  

In his book Meditations of the Heart, theologian Howard Thurman says that “The streets of our minds seethe with endless traffic”, and this reality is what sometimes prevents us from hearing what God wants to say to us. I understand first-hand how busyness can get in the way of taking the time to be silent. We can become so busy doing work for God that we neglect our walk with God, but work for God evolves into God working through us when we prioritize our walk with God.

It’s easy to sacrifice necessary time to be silent in the name of “serving”. Though this is common, we cannot pour out quality to others without giving God the space to fill us, otherwise we will run out of substance to pour.

The spiritual substance from God that we need to live well and serve well can be received through stillness and silence with God.

In our jet-setting, itinerary-based culture that can entice Christian leaders to take on a messiah complex where we feel we have to solve everybody’s problems, we need the “blessed quietness” that they hymn writer says when “He speaks peace to me, the billows cease to roll”. This suggests that a word from God can provide the peace that we seek in our lives when times get tough.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah was running for his life since Jezebel threatened to kill him as a consequence for proving that the God of Israel is the true God. The series of events that led up to Elijah experiencing God are interesting, because when God passed by Elijah, a great and strong wind happened, and after the wind, an earthquake happened, and after the earthquake, a fire happened, but God was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire.

But Vs. 12 says after the fire, “a still small voice”. The help that Elijah needed to continue the work of his life did not come through some significantly sensational experience, but it came through God’s still small voice. This same Elijah, who was depressed because of how his ministry resulted in his life being threatened, heard from God, got new instructions, and continued doing the work of his life.

Sometimes, it’s not that we need to change what we’re doing, or give up on our current efforts. Elijah needed a personal encounter with God, and so do we. We need to hear God’s voice. We need to feel God’s peace. We need to be reminded that the work we do for God is not of our own choosing, but it is God’s sending.

I encourage you to take the time to invite God’s voice to speak to your spirit by being silent in God’s presence, and receiving the instruction, the encouragement, the correction, and the lessons that God wants to share with you. Here’s a takeaway truth: God has something to say, and it’s worth hearing. What’s left for us to do is examine ourselves to ensure that there are silent spaces in our lives that allow us to hear what God says. You cannot do well what you have not heard well, and you cannot hear well if you have not been silent.