10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” [Psalm 46:10a]
A funny thing has happened to me over the last few days.
Well, not all that funny if you know me well. You see, I’ve been craving silence.
Sometimes it seems as though I need silence like other people need air. It feeds me and fills me with a kind of strength and peace that is simply unattainable any other way. In the silence I hear God.
Don’t get me wrong, God doesn’t speak to me audibly like some other worldly and disembodied voice from upon high. He doesn’t make bold pronouncements like “build an ark” or “let my people go”. I’ve often lamented that I wish he would speak to me that way, the way he spoke to Moses through the burning bush or how he woke a young Samuel from a deep sleep. But then again that would likely be terrifying so I guess I’ll pass.
No, God speaks to me in those thoughts that come in the quiet moments of the day. He brings to mind people to pray for and reach out to, he plants the seeds of action and progress for my life, ministry and business but more often than not he just says: “hey there – I’m here with you, I’m on your side, I’ve got this, relax I love you.”
Some days I tend to be a bit of a striver. I run hard after things, like an athlete going for gold. I remember the first time I read 1 Corinthians 9:24, I said; “Yup that’s me, I want to be that guy.”
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. [1 Corinthians 9:24, 25]
I work hard, sometimes too hard.
In my business we use a personality matrix to help us understand ourselves better so that we can direct our efforts toward the kind of prospects that respond best to our personal styles. I’m sure you’ve seen similar things in whatever business you spend your time in. They’ve been a staple of popular management psychology for at least the last 30 years. The one we use the most breaks people down into 4 categories; analytical, driver, amiable and expressive.
Through a series of question and response tests you can place yourself on a quadrant diagram in one of the four areas and presto, this is who you are and how you work best. Problem is that every time I do one of these tests, if I take my time and am honest with myself I land so close to the middle of the diagram that they tell me I must not have been honest. Apparently nobody can be so balanced in their responses as to be nearly equal in all four traits. Except me that is, but I digress.
On days when I tend to be a striver, (I prefer the term to driver because to my mind it better depicts a goal that you are reaching for, I’m pretty sure you can be a driver and still lack direction.) I sometimes run off ahead of God. And when I get ahead of God things start to fall apart, deals fall through, relationships get strained and I start to crave silence so I can stop for a minute and listen to God.
That’s how I’ve been feeling lately so I tried for some quite time yesterday. Saturdays are usually a good day to unplug from the world and sit in silence for a while but there were too many things to do, too many errands to run and too many people to visit. I started to feel myself getting angry so I calmed myself down by resolving to get up early this morning and sit in the silence.
I began with some deep breathing exercises and an “Our Father.” And then it happened. The birds started it. Not just one or two but a veritable symphony!
I was annoyed, how’s a guy supposed to hear God with all this damn chirping? But that wasn’t all; a car with a bad muffler started up in the distance, then my neighbor’s air conditioner kicked in, a dog started barking and an airplane took off. Did I mention I live just a few kilometers from the airport?
But just as I was about to get really upset and give up in frustration I heard it. God whispering to me through the noise; “Don’t you just love a good symphony?”
I took another deep breath and started over; “Our Father, who art in heaven… listen to the symphony of praise your creation has brought this fine morning!
Hallowed be thy name….”
Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 613-295-4141.