Summary: Time of silence alone with God: · deepens our relationship with him · restores us in our life for Him · focuses us in our work for Him
Silence and Solitude
It is a well-known fact that the people of this Church are extremely well read! I know that you all have the great classics of literature in your well-stocked libraries. I know that your children will reach Chaucer and Dickens instead of the ‘Cat in the Hat’!I’d like to introduce to you some more great works of literature this morning.
You may not be familiar with the works of Jill Murphy, but she has written some very telling and fundamentally simple books about the harsh realities of family life. Even if you are not familiar with the books themselves, the titles will certainly strike a chord. The first of these books is entitled ’Five Minutes’ Peace’, and it’s about the difficulties that a parent has in trying to get even five minutes peace and quiet. In the end to she manages to get three minutes and 45 seconds of peace before the whole family descend upon her once again! The second book is entitled ’A Quiet Night In’, and shows how, when Mr and Mrs Large at last managed to programme a quiet night in to spend quality time with each other, they are so exhausted with the pressures of life and family that they simply fall asleep.
Over the past few weeks we have been looking at the spiritual disciplines — the methods by which we develop our spiritual lives. Discipline is not a popular word, but it is necessary if we want to live life, have a relationship with God, at a deeper level.
Today we will be considering the discipline of silence and solitude. Now, even on a very practical level, I guess most of us would identify very closely with Mr and Mrs Large as they try to get some kind of peace and quiet just for five minutes. We live in a world where five minutes peace seems impossible. ….where noise is everywhere. …. Where sometimes the radio is way too loud for me and it is the radio in the car behind me.
I looked at Roget’s Thesaurus -Silence = stillness, quiet, peace, calm, rest
still, ad. 1. remaining in place or at rest; motionless; stationary; to stand still. 2. free from sound or noise, as a place, persons, etc.: silent: to keep still about a matter 3. subdued or low in sound; hushed: a still small voice 4. free from turbulence or commotion; peaceful; tranquil; calm; the still air.
Well if this is discipline – count me in!
But why are stillness, silence and solitude important for the Christian.
The example of Elijah
Lets look at the example of Elijah from our first reading. You might like to look up 1 Kings 19: to refresh your memories. Just to put this into context, Elijah was alive around 850 BC. David had been king about 120 years before, followed by Solomon. You may not recall that Solomon, although he was remembered as a wise King and a generally good guy, went downhill towards the end of his life. The result of that was that after Solomon’s death the kingdom was divided and there were two parallel kingdoms of Judah and Israel. The King’s who followed Solomon weren’t a lot better and by the time we get to Elijah’s appearance on the scene the King of Israel was Ahab. 1 Kgs 16: 30. We read that Ahab did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all that were before him. Worse than that he took for a wife Jezebel she was a foreigner and then worshipped Baal who was a pagan god and erected altars for Baal in various places.
Jezebel sought to suppress worship of the Hebrew God Jehovah and was ruthless in her use of her royal power to achieve her ends. How just before the passage of we had read to us Elijah had provoked a major confrontation with Jezebel and Ahab and all the religious leaders of the pagan cult. The power of God was unmistakably demonstrated and the religious leaders of the cult of bail had been killed. Our reading picks up the story at this point when as a result Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah saying that she would kill him.
Elijah was naturally afraid and ran for his life. Ultimately he came to a cave.
Time for ourselves v4
Just think of his situation. He was drained, he was scared and alone, he was under pressure and isolated. He needed to get away from it all. Elijah needed that cave. He needed time on his own. He needed time for himself. You can get a sense of how desperate Elijah was feeling in v4. He just wanted to curl up and die. Elijah needed time for himself. Elijah needed silence solitude and time to recover. And so do we. There is absolutely nothing wrong in setting aside time for yourself. Mrs Large was absolutely right. She needed five minutes’ peace. We need time for ourselves. We need time to recover our breath. We need time to rest time to be silent time to be alone. For unless we do, will find ourselves like Elijah. We will find ourselves exhausted. We will find ourselves not making rational decisions. We will find ourselves on the third during the middle of depression. So we need silence and solitude just for ourselves.