by Kelly Wilson Mize
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
“The silence was deafening.”
There is great truth in that ironic expression. Silence is powerful. Sometimes the sound of silence can be a difficult state of existence, awkward and unwelcome. Quiet can imply sadness, loneliness, or boredom. Silence can also be wonderful–even “golden,” as they say. But when communicating with others, most of us would prefer at least some actual noise. In our fast-paced world, we deal in quick information, and want unmistakable (sometimes loud!) confirmation–We want our voices heard, so we can get the answers we think we need. And we want those answers RIGHT NOW.
While waiting on God, the last thing we usually want to be is silent. Instead, we want to clearly express our feelings to Him in a way that ensures there is no doubt that He understands. And God does welcome our words. But He can also work mightily when we choose not to use any.
I used to teach middle school, and one of my pet peeves as an educator was being interrupted while giving instructions to the class. Many times, while I was talking, a hand would go up (or not) and a voice would impatiently call out:
…What if? …Can we? …But what about?
All while I was in the process of explaining everything completely! The students would sometimes be so eager to find out what they were supposed to be doing that they would jump ahead. In a classroom setting, only when the class is “tuned in” and listening, can it collectively arrive at a place of true understanding. And effective listening usually involves being quiet.
There is definitely a time for questioning, but preceding those important questions, there is silence.
Waiting on God is sometimes so difficult. We want to KNOW exactly what he wants from us, what He plans to do for us (if anything at all), and when and where He’s going to do it. But sometimes while we wait quietly, a beautiful thing happens: We begin to feel God’s presence in a fresh, new way.
Psalm 46:10 (NIV) describes the beauty of it: “Be still and know that I am God…”
Most versions of that passage say “Be still.” Other translations have a slightly different explanation:
“Stop Your Striving, and recognize that I am God…” (NET)
“Be in awe and know that I am God…” (ISV)
“Stop your fighting–and know that I am God…” (HCSB)
And perhaps my new favorite:
“Let go [of your concerns]! Then you will know that I am God.” (GW)
Each variation ends with a reassuring promise: IF you do this–You will know, without a doubt, that God is exactly who He says He is.
Sometimes, as much as we want to jump ahead and ask question after question, like restless middle school students, we should instead be still– respectfully in tune with God’s presence and listening attentively for His direction. Only when we are silent before God (physically, mentally, and spiritually), can we truly hear what He has to say. The stillness provides an environment where we can experience His authentic presence, allow Him to minister to our spirits, and feel His LOVE for us.
We know that love is patient, kind, and never-failing. But sometimes, that perfect love is also silent.
- Think of a time you felt God’s presence. Most likely it was at a point where you had “let go” of your own agenda and surrendered to His leading. Even amidst your busy schedule, make every effort to include that invaluable quiet time.
- Are you waiting on an answer from God? Take the time to “Be still and know.”
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Kelly Wilson Mize is a wife, mother of two young adults, and former educator with a master’s degree in education. In 20 years as a published writer, she he has composed numerous articles, interviews, curriculum projects, and devotions, and has contributed to eight traditionally published books. Credits include LifeWay, Bethany House, Guideposts, (in)courage, and others.
Join the conversation: When is the last time you stopped striving?