When I was a kid, Nickelodeon used to have a show entitled “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” These episodes can actually be accessed via Amazon Prime and I would be lying to say that I haven’t watched some of them recently. As I have watched some of the episodes into my adult life, I cannot believe that I used to watch that show as a kid. That show is terrifying. I remember watching the show as a kid and can vividly remember some of the episodes that left me with fear, even to this day. I can say the phrase “I am cold” in a high pitched, child’s voice, and it still sends chills down my spine thinking about that episode (ask my little bro, as kids we used to bring fear into his life with that one phrase).
While this show has absolutely nothing to do with this blog post, I do want to pose a similar set of questions: Are you afraid of silence? Are you afraid of solitude? We live in a loud, noisy, busy society. Everyone always has access to you because you have a phone attached to your hip. The days when you had to call someone on a land line and if they weren’t home you had no way to get in touch with them are over. It’s almost hard to remember because it has been so long, but consider the fact that my Mom would leave and go to the grocery store when I was a kid and we had no way to contact her unless we called the grocery store!! Was she even at the grocery store?!
Because of social media, television, cell phones, the internet, the radio, spotify, Facebook and the million other things that are going on in all of our lives, we rarely have anytime for silence and solitude. Part of the reason for this is because we live in fear of silence and solitude. Culture has conditioned us to always want to know what is going on. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have engrained within us that we are missing something if we do not know what all of our friends ate for dinner, or when they went shopping, or who broke up with who. Because of this, our minds cannot handle a day “cut off from the world.”
But why would anyone want to be quiet and be by themselves. Maybe because it is good for your soul? Maybe because it will enable spiritual growth and conform you more into the image of Christ? Maybe slowing down and being quiet before the Lord and stilling our minds is actually something that can enable us to hear from God? When you talk to someone, it is difficult for you to hear them when you are constantly talking. Maybe silence and solitude is exactly what we Christians need.
Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life (purchase here Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life) has a chapter on Silence and Solitude that has really challenged me. I have been teaching through the book on Wednesday nights in our Adult Bible study and I do not live a life that regularly practices the Spiritual Discipline of silence and solitude. While I do not regularly practice this, Whitney makes a strong case that this should be a regular part of all of our lives. He gives many different biblical reasons for why we should be still before the Lord in seeking Him, seeking HIs Will, and desiring to hear from Him. But more importantly than this, He begins with the life of Christ. Jesus’s life was characterized by times He would seclude Himself for times of silence and solitude. He understood the value of escaping the craziness of society at times and being still before the Father.
As I have been challenged within the pages of the book, I challenge you as well. Do not just be silent and have a time of solitude just to do it, it must have a purpose. If you practice this without a spiritual purpose, then you are just sitting in silence and accomplishing nothing. The purpose might be to hear from God, it might be to pray, it might just be to listen. But take some time throughout the day to still your heart before the Lord. Take some time to seclude yourself from your cell phone, or from something else that may be hindering you from stilling your mind before God and be silent before the Lord. I am going to try to improve this practice in my own life as I see a biblical mandate as well as a benefit in cutting off my brain for a time. It will be tough, but I’m going to give it a try! Deep down, I think I am afraid of silence!!! But we all have to face our fears.