Silence is the Secret

We all long to be closer to God. But that requires something simple and often overlooked—the willingness to be still.

by Drew Dyck, In Touch Ministries 

I recently attended a large conference for church and business leaders, featuring big names like Colin Powell, Jimmy Carter, Jack Welch, Tony Dungy, and Rick Warren. But one speaker listed on the program seemed out of place. She wasn’t a prominent politician, business tycoon, or megachurch pastor. Rather than a suit, she wore a simple white robe and headscarf. Known as “Mama Maggie,” she is a diminutive woman who works in the slums of Cairo, Egypt.

When she walked onstage, the crowd erupted. Visibly moved by the reception, she stopped midway to the podium, pressed her hands together and mouthed words that were lost amid the thunderous applause. Then she lowered her body to the floor and prayed for a moment before rising to speak.

Silence is the Secret

She was worth the attention. Mama Maggie has dedicated her life to serving homeless, starving children in Manshiyat Naser (or “Garbage City” as it’s known in Egypt). She founded an organization called Stephen’s Children to help the countless boys and girls who roam the trash heaps looking for scraps of food. Today, the organization has thousands of volunteers, scores of whom were helped by the charity as children.

Of the many things she shared with us that day, one has stuck with me. “Silence is the secret,” she said to the crowd. “Silence your heart to listen to your spirit. Silence your spirit to listen to His Spirit. In silence, you leave the many to be with the One.”

That evening, I had the opportunity to interview her, and I was struck by the palpable humility and incredible gentleness of spirit she exuded. It was plain to see that everything about her grew out of a deep intimacy with God.

Quietness, both of mind and spirit, is essential for communing with the Almighty. “Be still,” the psalmist writes, “and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10 NIV). I think it’s important to note that the stillness precedes the knowing—not the other way around. Without first quieting our hearts (and minds and mouths), we’ll never realize the deep intimacy with God we so desperately crave.

Unfortunately, however, we are rarely silent. After a few seconds of quietness, we get fidgety. We start reaching for our gadgets or talking to avoid awkwardness and boredom. We can blame our technological devices or hectic work schedules or busy family lives, but the truth is, we avoid silence at all costs.

Silence is the Secret

A recent study conducted at the University of Virginia testifies to this sad truth. Researchers found that people preferred pain to being alone with their thoughts, even for a few minutes. Asked to sit in a room with no distractions for 15 minutes, participants were offered the option of giving themselves electric shocks. Around half of the people—all of whom had felt the painful jolt beforehand—chose to zap themselves just to break the monotony. (One participant opted for the shock 190 times.)

As Christians, we should find this aversion alarming, because being silent is essential for spiritual maturity. Quietness is to our souls what sleep is to our bodies: It helps us heal and gives us time to grow. Silence—that essential pause from the torrent of noise and busyness—enables us to hear our Creator and move closer to Christ. But finding this silence amid the cacophony of life can be difficult when a thousand things compete for our attention. Even when we get alone with God and try to quiet the buzz in our brains, the mental clutter of worries, fears, and unfinished tasks surges to the surface. It takes concerted effort to cultivate silence, especially in today’s world. But it’s a challenge we must accept. Our spiritual vitality is at stake.

And there’s more. Silence is something even greater than a tool to deepen our spiritual life; it’s the natural reaction of mortals to the presence of a holy God. In Scripture, when people encountered Him, they fell silent or spoke in hushed tones, fearful their sinful lips would incur divine judgment.

Take Isaiah, for instance. When he saw the Lord “high and exalted,” the only words he could manage were ones of despair: “Woe to me!” he cried, “I am ruined!” (Isa. 6:5 NIV). Ezekiel, too, was overwhelmed by his vision of God. After seeing Him in His glory, the prophet said nothing; he could only fall face-first to the ground (Ezek. 1-3).

Another example is Daniel, who could stare down lions, but when the heavens opened before him, he “bowed with [his] face toward the ground and was speechless” (Dan. 10:15 NIV). Likewise, the revelations of heaven the apostle John received left him lying on the ground “as though dead” (Rev. 1:17 NIV). And though there is no shortage of dialogue in the book of Job, silence reigns when God shows up. “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?” Job says. “I put my hand over my mouth” (Job 40:4 NIV).

Silence is the Secret

But their reactions are radically different from ours. Drop in on an average church service, and you’ll hear loud celebratory music sung by cheerful, upbeat worship teams. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. We need to be joyful. But there is little time spent standing in awe of God. Can we be shocked into silence by God’s unbridled majesty? Is it possible for us to stand in perfect stillness before His holiness? The answer to these questions is most definitely yes. Yes, we can.

But believe it or not, this isn’t a new issue. In the 17th century, a man named Isaac Watts complained about lackadaisical worship. He objected to “the dull indifference, the negligent and thoughtless air that sits upon the faces of a whole assembly.” His father challenged him to create hymns that would inspire more fervent worship. Watts did just that—and ended up writing some of the best-known songs of the English language, including “Joy to the World.” But it is the final stanza of “Eternal Power” that perfectly describes the worship that can come only with silence:

God is in heaven, and men below;
Be short our tunes, our words be few;
A solemn reverence checks our songs,
And praise sits silent on our tongues.

Watts understood something we would be wise to embrace—that worship sometimes demands wordlessness and that the purest praise often arises from hushed lips. Silence is an acknowledgment that we stand in the presence of a holy and remarkable God. It signals that we’re ready to listen, to receive, and to simply stand in awe of our Creator. It is when we intentionally close our mouths that we can experience a fuller measure of God’s greatness and grandeur.

 

Illustrations by Jeff Gregory

I Am Who I Am

He whispers this to us, time and time again.
His gentle spirit reminding us of who he is and who we are.

“I Am Who I Am”, says the lord of the universe because he is confident in his plans for us, for a broken humanity.

He is confident of his plans for the woman who cannot bear her burden after years of bleeding and no remedy. (Mark 5)
He is confident of his plans for the woman who with a bowed head approaches the well to hear all that she ever was or did. (John 4)
He is confident of his plans for his humble servants who endure trial after trial and are broken into pieces like a loaf of bread.

“I Am Who I Am” he says to us because he is absolutely sure of who he is and who we are in his sight.
In our sinful humanity we are feeble, weak, dirty and blemished.
In his holiness he is pure, just, loving and merciful.

We need to encounter him,
to be cleansed by him,
to be made strong in his presence so that we may endure the many trials that confront us daily.

I may never be able to rest in my daily circumstances or find peace in them but I can certainly rest in “I Am That I Am”.
Although a thousand may fall at my side, (Psalm 91)
although rumors of war may fill the air. (Matthew 24)
although financial crisis may strike,
although laughter may turn to mourning;

I can find solace and peace in “I Am That I Am”.

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Friends, let us rejoice in our present trials as the apostle Paul reminds us. Let us find comfort in knowing that those who walk through the valley of the shadow of death are not alone and once they leave the valley they are made stronger.
I believe that God uses greatly those who have been thrown into a fiery furnace and have endured countless tests and trials.
No gold is made pure without fire. Let us then be persistent and keep holding on to the Word of God and to our salvation with fear and trembling.

To him be the glory, honor and praise now and forevermore.
Mariana
“In spite of sorrow, loss, and pain, Our course be onward still”
Adoniram Judson

Be The Change

All things happen for a reason and we are placed next to certain people for a purpose. Today as I left my little ones at school I ran into “the kid”; yes you know? Every school has a few of these kids that are rude, disrespectful, challenging and defiant.
He displays this poor behavior with everyone at school even his grandfather who takes care of him. Some people have just written him off as a nuisance and ignore him. But I can’t. Just like everything in life, I believe that he came to this specific school this year for a purpose.
Come to find out “the kid” has been in several foster homes. His mom up and left him when he was little and his father is a war veteran who has fallen into alcoholism and abused him verbally and physically until the state took him away. After various foster homes he was awarded custody to his grandpa.

Now, just looking at him from the outside and seeing his horrible behavior one could easily ignore him or better yet treat him like garbage.
But we should not.

Every person is suffering through something and every person has a story behind the story.

Children especially are vulnerable and have difficulty dealing with such harsh realities.
Instead of criticizing “these kids” why not help them? I feel like every opportunity I have to make a lasting mark on someone’s life is diminishing the probability that they will grow up to be a thief, murderer, rapist etc.

Hurt kids grow up to be wounded adults who then turn angry and burst into schools shooting, rob stores, defy authority and go on to commit heinous crimes.
But we have a play in that game. Do you know what your play is?
Just one random act of love and kindness can mend the brokenhearted and spark hope in the eyes of a child that might otherwise be ignored, mistreated and hated by others in society. Share if you Agree!

Lots of Love,
Mariana

Mid Morning Reflections – If I Wake up and Can Still Breathe

If I wake up and can still breathe, I will make every effort to smile more, argue less and love God with all of my heart, mind and body.

If I wake up and can still breathe, I will make every effort to treasure goodnight kisses and pretty pictures that my kids draw for me on a daily basis. I’ll pray more and ask God to increase my patience and wisdom so that I will know how to raise the children he has gifted me for a few short years.

If I wake up and can still breathe I will share morning hugs and nighttime kisses everyday with my beloved and never go to sleep with anger in my heart.

If I wake up and can still breathe I wont let moments pass without telling the people I love how important they are to me.

If I wake up and can still breathe I will pray so that I can see Jesus in every person I meet and never push aside someone who is in need.

If I wake up and can still breathe I will admire this beautiful earth that God created and praise him every time I see a butterfly dance in front of me. I will embrace the radiant rays of the sun and be thankful for the rain that cleanses the earth.

If I wake up and can still breathe, I will never forget that we only get one chance to live and live well.

A few weeks ago as we sat in church for a service to remember our brother who died and went to be with Jesus; I thought long and hard on my life.
I cried and felt a little bit closer to God, knowing that I too am dust and one day just like everyone else, this earthly vessel will return to dust. I cried as I thought of my father who also was taken suddenly and without reason or warning. I reflected on his life and the legacy he left.  I wondered silently, what legacy I will leave when I am no longer here. 

Sometimes we just don’t know how long a person has left with us. We waist time in senseless arguments and judgments that don’t belong to us when all God wants us to do is live and live for his glory.

Tomorrow may be too late and today may never come so let us live our life as if it were a gift and then give that gift away everyday! Let us live knowing that we need Jesus and his transforming love in our life. With him all things that were created came to be and in him we have everlasting life.
Blessings,
Mariana

God is Searching for Extraordinary Disciples – Are you One?

The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

God is looking for men and women whose hearts are firmly fixed on Him and who will continually trust Him for all He desired to do with their lives.  God is ready and eager to work more powerfully than ever through His people, and the clock of the centuries is striking the eleventh hour. 

The world is watching and waiting to see what God can do through a life committed to Him.  And not only is the world waiting but God Himself awaits to see who will be the most completely devoted person who has ever lived: willing to be nothing so Christ may be everything; fully accepting God purposes as his own; receiving Christ’s humility, faith, love and power yet never hindering Gods plan but always allowing him to continue His miraculous work. 

There is no limit to what God can do through you, provided you do not seek your own glory. 

George Mueller at more than 90 years of age, in an address to ministers and other Christian workers, said, “ I was converted in November 1825, but I didn’t come to the point of total surrender of my heart until four years later, in July 1827.  It was then I realized my love for money, prominence, position, power and worldly pleasure was gone.  God and he alone, became my all in all.  I him I found everything I needed and I desired nothing else.  By Gods grace, my understanding of His sufficiency has remained to this day, making me an exceedingly happy man.  It has lead me to care only about the things of God.  And so dear believers, I kindly ask if you have totally surrendered your heart to God, or is there something in your life you refuse to release, in spite of Gods call? 

Before the point at which I surrendered my life, I read a little of the scriptures but preferred other books.  Yet since that time, the truth He has revealed to me of Himself has become an inexpressible blessing.  Now I can honestly say from the depth of my heart that God is an infinitely wonderful being.”

My prayer today is that God would make me an extraordinary Christian.  

 

Source Streams in the Desert

Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me? John 18:11

To “drink the cup” was a greater thing than calming the seas or raising the dead.  The prophets and apostles could do amazing miracles, but they did not always do the will of God and thereby suffered as a result. 

Doing Gods will and then experiencing suffering is still the highest form of faith, and the most glorious Christian achievement. 

Having your brightest aspirations as a young person forever crushed; bearing burdens daily that are always difficult, and never seeing relief; finding yourself worn down by poverty while simply desiring to do good for others and provide a comfortable living for those you love; being shackled by an incurable physical disability; being completely alone, separated from all those you love, to face the trauma of life alone,: yet in all these, still being able to say through such a difficult school of discipline, “Shall I not drink the cup the father has given me?” – this is faith at its highest, and spiritual success at its crowning point.  Great faith is exhibited not so much in doing as in suffering. 

In order to have a sympathetic God, we must have a suffering Savior, for true sympathy comes from understanding another persons hurt by suffering the same affliction.  Therefore we cannot help others who suffer without paying a price ourselves, because afflictions are the cost we pay for our ability to sympathize.  Those who wish to help others must first suffer.  If we wish to rescue others, we must be willing to face the cross; experiencing the greatest happiness in life through ministering to others is impossible without drinking the cup Jesus drank and without submitting to the baptism He endured. 

The most comforting of David’s psalms were squeezed from his life by suffering, and if Paul had not been given “a thorn in the flesh” we would have missed much of the heartbeat of tenderness that resonates through so many of his letters. 

If you have surrendered yourself to Christ, your present circumstances that seem to be pressing so hard against you are the perfect tool in the Fathers hand to chisel you into shape for eternity.  So trust Him and never push away the instrument He is using, or you will miss the result of His work in your life. 

The school of suffering graduates exceptional scholars. 

 

Source: Streams in the Desert