So I was in my church college group last night (yes, I go to college group now. College group is cool.) and we were considering that one story in the Bible about how Elijah was listening for God in the earthquake, storm, and fire, but instead found him in the silence.
That got me to thinking; you know how everyone always HATES those awkward silences when there is a pause in conversation? How, when we are in our cars, we love to blast our favorite tunes and scream out along with them in a tone-deaf fashion? How we fall asleep at night listening to music or with the tv on? How, when we’re driving, there are always those billboards screaming for our attention with bright eye-catching colors, the lights of business bright and the appearance obnoxiously distracting, along with other such visual noise?
We hate the silence. We can’t stand to be silent for too long. Even when reading a good book, we aren’t silent; we fill our minds with words that stimulate our imaginations to create worlds and people that we come to be obsessed with. No matter where we go, audible, visual, and stimulatory noise assaults us from all directions and we welcome it fully.
Consider this; perhaps we hate to be silent because, like so many other aspects of our lives, we are trying to block God out. Elijah’s ears must have been ringing by the time all of those natural disasters passed and he still hadn’t found God. And then, he listened to the silence. Would we have stayed so long?
Instead of listening to the silence, would we be looking for some other incredible, awe-inspiring feat that would cause us to know, “God is there”? Would we have waited for a tsunami, hurricane, or other natural disaster in the hopes of “finding God”? Honestly, I think I would.
And yet, Elijah, instead of turning back hopeless and discouraged, listened to the silence. What caused him to stay when so many of us would have headed home? It was probably an act of desperation that caused him to stay and listen to the silence.
Seriously. If you had just witnessed a huge wind shake a mountain to the foundations, an earthquake that nearly caused the self-same mountain to crumble into pebbles, and a wildfire that had devoured everything in its path, would you have felt a bit desperate? And yet, it makes sense. He had been listening to natural, destructive wonders that killed, ruined, and eviscerated (my favorite word!) the earth. Thus, it makes sense that he would listen for something more…peaceful.
He found God in the silence. What would we find if we listened, too? I feel like we dislike the silence because we are afraid of what we might think or feel, and so we fill our senses with so much noise that we can barely think for ourselves.
I read once about this totally soundproof room where the very walls absorbed any sound you made. Let me say that again. The walls absorbed any and every sound that you made. If you stomped on the ground or beat on some drums, you wouldn’t hear it. They tried to put person after person into that room. You know what the longest record time someone was able to stay in that room without going crazy?
I can’t even begin to imagine that kind of silence. It’s like bottom-of-the-ocean silent. Like, you wouldn’t even hear a squid or a shark come up on you, you’d just be stuck there listening to nothing. In the Bible, people couldn’t even look at God without dying a painful death. Maybe it’s the same for his voice. Maybe that’s why we find silence so intolerable.
Think about it.