Godly Silence and Solitude

Silence has always seemed lonely to me. Paul Simon sang,
hello darkness my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again….
The sounds of silence

If you have ever been left on your own when you really didn’t want to be, or even need to be, you understand these words more than most. Too many in this modern world are too connected all the time, and being disconnected with no technology to hold onto is terrifying.
Silence. No phones, no texts, no social media, no internet. Silence. It is in the silence they discover that they do not and cannot live in silence. And then, there are those who are truly alone. Real silence. No connections with people, and no desire for a connection. People who feel alone because of hurts, failures; just life itself.
It is the sounds, of quiet, madness, failure, discontent, anger, and distrust of anything or anyone. And the sounds are deafening. You and I, as followers of Christ, live in this same world. We experience hurts and failures, and all of the emotions mentioned a moment ago, but we are to look to our Savior in those times and know we are His.
We are much more likely to focus on Him in those times when we realize that instead of fearing the silence, we must instead spend time in silence and solitude.
Solitude is to be seen as a “means of grace”, or way of receiving grace from God. It has been practiced by believers for centuries, but lost in the modern world. We are in desperate need of recovering it, and practicing it in our lives. Solitude is meant to focus our hearts in “Godly silence”.
We are called, as believers, to community. We are meant to fellowship, worship, and live with other believers. And yet, there are times we crave time away from all of this. Our souls need refreshing and rest.
Historically, in the practice of spiritual disciplines, when someone is called to silence, they spend time away from people, and refrain from speaking for a specific time. And in this time, they are meant to meditate on scripture, read, keep a journal, etc.
The practice of solitude on the other hand is meant to be used in a variety of ways, with no real time frame. We hear of people needing solitude, but rarely needing silence. Except in classrooms, libraries, and the homes of frantic and tired moms.
The bigger the city, the faster the pace, the harder it is to find time for, and even to find, silence and solitude. We were created for communion with our Creator. We were created to worship Him, to fellowship with Him, to talk with Him. The Psalmist said it better in Psalm 62:1,

My soul waits in silence for God only

When was the last time you were quiet enough in your soul to hear God’s voice? And when have you had the time recently to “wait in silence” for God only? We are created souls who constantly need our Creator’s guidance in our lives. Isaiah 30:15 is an instructive verse for us

Thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and
rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’

We need to return to Him, and rest in Him. He is our salvation. He strengthens us when we are quiet, and trust in His voice and His leading in our lives. Many times it is in silence and solitude that we find our strength in Him, when in the noise of life, we may miss it.
In his book, The Listening Life[^1], Adam McHugh reminds us,

Even though we do not feel God’s listening presence upon us, God is
listening and silently working through our doubts and struggles. God
may not be directly answering our prayers, but he is silently walking
through our lives, beckoning us closer, working new things into us.

God is “silently walking through our lives”. When we are unable to experience biblical silence and solitude in our own lives, God Himself draws us closer to Himself, calling for us. So many of us are desperate for times of refreshing in our walk with God. We have experienced highs and lows, and many too close together. Our lives are hectic, and we need the refreshment offered in God’s solitude. Spend time in short times or prayer, bible reading, journal writing, individual worship, or meditation of scripture. We need this time to draw close to Him, because we need Him. And He is calling.

[1] The Listening Life, Adam S. McHugh, p.52