The Loud Conscience
Isn’t conscience our agitator?
It shouts at us, and we fever about to know, fix, and be as fast as possible to get the most affirmation necessary to assure our inner being or those we serve that we are enough and that our ministry is good. We bustle about trying to be like God because we don’t yet sensibly feel that it is okay and fitting not to be.
Perhaps we now feel unnerved. In Ecclesiastes 9:17, the word “quiet” carries the idea of trust or contented rest.
The first time you try to go a whole day with no access to anything but God at a local retreat center, you begin to fuss into frustration. Lingering among silences makes us feel like toddlers entering the nursery on Sunday mornings. When our parent drops us off, we feel abandoned. We either tantrum about, or we cling to anything or anyone that promises to hold us.
Why We Hate Silence
Charles Spurgeon, the old Baptist preacher, explains why. “Quietude, some men cannot abide,” he says, “because it reveals their inner poverty.”
Take away the crutches we use to hold up our fix-it, know-it, and be-everywhere personas, and the broken legs of our intimacy with God buckle. “Priceless as the gift of utterance may be,” he says, “the practice of silence in some aspects far excels it.” He adds:
I am persuaded that most of us think too much of speech, which after all is but the shell of thought. Quiet contemplation, still worship, unuttered rapture . . . rob not your heart of the deep sea joys; miss not the far-down life, by forever babbling among the broken shells and foaming surges of the shore.
Why We Need Silence
Quiet is a means of God’s grace.
Within it, God shows us our inner poverty and misguided ambitions. He has waited patiently with a quiet heart while we’ve brewed our lives into storm and froth constantly interrupting him. Now that we are finally silent, he has healing to speak, mending to perform.
We have held on to fixing, knowing, and being everywhere as fast and as famous as we can, like a toddler who can’t go a day without his blankie. But there comes a time when the toddler must age into wisdom and learn to sleep without it.
The first night and day of trying this are detox ugly. But soon, the rest comes and the freedom blesses all in the house.
This article is adapted from The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus by Zack Eswine.