We have just returned from what Adrian dubbed “The Great Zimbabwean Tour” for our holiday. Three weeks of seeing the most amazing places in a country often forgotten, we hit the bucket list hard, converted money to memories and have stories to tell.
Thank you for your prayers. It was a happy holiday for us, with extended family time, which in my experience deals with any undercurrents of misunderstanding that may exist within a family. When you do everything together including eating, driving, showering, doing dishes and sleeping like sardines in a tent, anything not forgiven or dealt with comes out sooner or later.
The first week is characterized by strained silences (or sulking) and passionate verbal outbreaks (or fights), but by the end of the holiday you have companionable silence and the enjoyment of togetherness. Not to mention new understanding and skills in communication. Against the norm, we camp on holiday! I understand the desire for luxury on holidays, but the benefit of camping is that you remove all obstacles to communication like electronics, TV, comfort, space and you get down to the bare basics of what you actually need. You discover, that you can actually survive with a lot less and “It’s not that bad.”
On this holiday I found something that I had missed without realizing it. Silence. I reveled in being away from work at first, then being with my family, then seeing something beautiful and then I heard something in the quiet: my own thoughts. It is not that I am not aware of my own thoughts at home, it was just that I had the opportunity to listen to thoughts for an extended period of time because of silence.
It is possible to find silence at home, it is possible to withdraw from the ‘maddening crowd,’ but I realized that I had not been getting enough time in the silence. It is not silence when you are making a to-do list while you have a quiet cup of coffee. It is not silence when you spend your whole quiet time praying about your list of anxieties and watching the clock for when you have to leave. It is not silence when every moment of your life is taken up by the activity of … whatever it is. There is not enough silence in “time for myself,” more sleep, getting away for an hour or so.
I found that extended silence was what I needed. As I listened to my own thoughts, I heard stuff I didn’t even realize was there: thoughts and attitudes that were lies. I listened to my inner voice giving in to despair, anger and unforgiveness. I listened to my inner voice wailing at God for what I did not have, when I thought I was quite a thankful person. I listened to my inner voice asking God if He still loved me. I listened to myself asking Him if life was worth it and what was the point of it all?
And then in the silence God answered. No it was not “Ah-ha!” moments. No audible voice. No instructions, visions, dreams etc. No bible verses, special messages or anointing. No phenomenal answers or strategies or plans. Just peace. “My peace I give to you.” A deep sense that He knows my thoughts intimately, that He loves me, He watches over me and that all of it, every little thing, was in His control. I could rest.
It was experiencing Philippians 4:7, that promises of “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” it was this peace which was “guarding” my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Dear friend, find the silence. It is the best place in the entire world to be. Jesus understood this, withdrawing regularly from His work and the disciples to find silence. That silent place is where we will find peace, where we find the Lover of our soul. The silent place is what Jesus meant in Matt 6:6 when He said we are to withdraw from the world, behind a closed door, in a secret place to be with Him.
“But the Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth be silent before Him.” – Habakkuk 2:20
My challenge to you today is make plans to get some extended silence for you and your family. Get away to the beautiful, quiet places that we have in our country. Find the silence to listen, to think, to talk. It was good for my soul and I am sure your soul needs it too.
Below is a picture of my family at Victoria Falls, not a silent place, but magnificent.