Silence Part 4: Wendy Bray considers how we can be still before God
‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46
Silence in a crowd may be one thing, but how good are we at being silent before God or encountering his silence? are we relieved when the reflective bit of the Sunday service is over and we can get singing and chatting again? Or do we suspect that God would prefer us to take more time to be quiet and still?
Thomas Merton often spoke about ‘listening to the silence of God’ because God speaks to us through that silence, while Psalm 46 asks us to be still and silent in order to know who God is. There are two things to think about here—our silence before God and our encounter with God’s silence. Together, they lead to ‘God-knowledge’ and ‘self-knowledge’.
We often use verse 10 in isolation for meditation (‘Be still and know that I am God’), and that’s a useful and important exercise, but we also need to consider the context of the verse. Stillness and silence help us to know who God is even in the midst of trouble (v. 1) and fear (vv. 2, 11). That might be a tough call at times, but these verses suggest that it can and must be done.
In knowing who God is, we will also begin to know who we really are in relation to him, to ourselves and to others. In the silence before God, our foolish assumptions about ourselves melt away; we become our true, honest selves. That’s a scary thought, perhaps, until we remember that God loves and accepts us that way and desires intimacy with us.
Rowan Williams writes, ‘Our words help to strengthen the illusions with which we surround, protect and comfort ourselves; without silence, we shan’t get any closer to knowing who we are before God’ (Silence and Honey Cakes, Lion, 2003, p. 45).
Taken from Day by Day with God, published by Bible Reading Fellowship, available to purchase from Eden
March 8th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Ian Matthews