Summary: People seem to be afraid of silence. They do anything to fill their lives with noise and avoid the emptiness. But God says "Be still and know that I am God." What can that mean to us and how can we go about doing it?
How many of you have ever heard the term: “Circuit Riders”?
Circuit Riders were preachers back in the 1700s and 1800s who would ride from church to church and hold services. There were more churches than preachers in that day and a Circuit Rider would travel from congregation to congregation.
One Circuit Rider was out riding one afternoon and came upon a man out working in his field. Thinking to start a conversation and invite the man to church, the preacher called out: "Fine day isn't it?”
"It's fine for you", the man replied, "All you have to do is ride around on that horse thinking about God all day long, while I have to sweat here in this field and then walk home afterward. I don't think it’s right you should have things so easy while I have to work so hard.”
The preacher responded: “You’re right. You do work hard in the fields and I admire that, but you need to realize that the kind of work I do is a work of different kind.”
“Yeah, sure”, the man answered. “But it’s not really work. All you do is ride around thinking about God all the time. That’s not hard.”
“Oh, but it’s harder than you think", the minister answered. And then a thought occurred to him: “I tell you what. Just to prove to you how difficult it can be to ‘think about God’ - if you can think about God and nothing else for 1 minute… I'll give you my horse.”
“You can’t be serious,” said the farmer.
But the preacher assured him he was.
“You're on”, said the man and immediately he sat down in silence.
Ten seconds went by… then 20 seconds… then 25 seconds.
About then, the farmer looked up at the minister, and said,
“Does that include the saddle?”
All the man had to do to get that horse was say nothing.
All he had to do was “THINK” about God… and nothing else for 60 SECONDS.
But he couldn’t do that.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10a
That sounds like God is asking us… to be still.
Just be quiet in His presence and know that He’s God.
But just like that farmer there are a lot people have a hard time doing that.
I’ve heard it said that “Nature abhors a vacuum.”
In the same way, many people abhor… quiet.
They struggle with silence.
ILLUS: I just read an article by a Medical Doctor telling about the time he was Resident attending a Seminar. He wrote:
“In one discussion group the discussion leader asked us a question to which no one had an immediate answer. So he waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, one of my colleagues offered an answer that happened to be incorrect but which then sparked a lively discussion we all found quite valuable.
After the seminar, I had a chance to talk with the discussion leader and remarked how unfazed he'd seemed by the silence that had greeted his question, which had seemed to stretch on for what I'd figured to be almost five minutes.
The man replied that the silence had only lasted 30 seconds.
‘Wow,’ I said. ‘Only 30 seconds? It seemed like a lot more.’”
(Alex Lickerman M.D. - Happiness in this World – “The Art of Silence”)
Why would he think it went on for so long?
Because many people abhor… silence.
They’ll do just about anything to fill the emptiness because too much quiet is unsettling to them.
• A person will step into their car, start the engine, and the radio will immediately come on filling the car with sound until that person is done driving.
• One man I talked to this week said that when his mother the first thing she does is turn on her TV … and she leaves it on all day long. She hardly ever watches it, but it never goes off until she gets ready for bed at night.
• And then there are people who walk or run in town, and they’ve got these “things” in their ears. What’s in their ears? Ear buds. They are listening to something. And they are so inwardly focused, that they don’t see anyone else while they’re on their run.
There’s music and all kinds of noise that bombards us everywhere we go.
At department stores
At the grocery
Even in elevators
People seem to feel the need to fill every waking moment with noise.
It’s like they can’t stand to be around silence.
But… that’s really not always true.
I once read an expert that noted that people only feel comfortable being silent when they’re in the presence of someone they’re comfortable with. When they’re with those people… it’s nothing to just sit and say nothing.