Opinion

The importance of silence and solitude

Janelle Hale

Janelle Hale

 

“By the end of this semester you will spend two hours in silence and solitude for this class.” These were the first words I heard from my professor, Dr. Lanker, in my Discipleship and Evangelism class. One of the main themes of the class is to sit alone in silence and listen to the voice of God.

In our culture we constantly play music and check our phones for a text, tweet, or Facebook update to stay connected with the world. Our challenge on day one of the class was to take 10 minutes out of our week to spend one-on-one time with God. Each week we would add 10 minutes to our time, until we got up to two hours. We could not be in a public place with friends to distract us, play music or look at our phones.

At first I was restless. I needed music to help me reflect and I needed people to process with. I enjoyed being involved in worship groups and did not want to be alone. I began by sitting in a prayer closet, but eventually I did not have enough around me, so I sat by the creek downtown. It was there the Lord began revealing himself to me through nature. I saw leaves on a tree and the Lord connected it to something in my life. I walked across the bridge to see flowers and the Lord explained the significance in their color, size and location. I was in awe at how much I could learn through nature.

As the quiet time has grown past one hour, so has my awareness of my imperfections. Through this time I have been challenged by God to seek Him before turning to friends. Processing with friends is wonderful and I highly recommend it, but I depended more on the advice from my friends than on the voice of God himself. I was not giving God enough time and credit to speak to me.

Through sitting in nature, I have realized how desperate the Lord is to speak to me every day. There is so much he has to teach me when I am alone, and I haven’t given him that chance. I am more desperate than ever for him, and now I have come to the point where I cannot wait for the next opportunity to complete the assignment so I can hear the voice of God again.

From this experience, I learned to run to God first for wisdom, then to seek community. Through spending time alone with the Lord, I have come to call on him as my Father, not just my God. We are never truly alone, even when there is no one around us, because the Lord is always with us even if we cannot see him.

I encourage you to find time in the midst of your busy week to sit in nature in silence and solitude to listen to God. Being surrounded by such a wonderful community of believers can sometimes leave us in a position of setting God aside for the sake of learning from others. I believe that we are called to live life together, but it is important to remember that we cannot give anything to our friends if we have not received first. The Lord must pour into our lives one-on-one before we can join in the community and give back to the Lord through serving others.

So here is my question for you: how desperate are you to hear the voice of God, and are you willing to sacrifice 10 minutes every day for the sake of growing closer to Him?