As a family, we have toured South Africa extensively and there are certain places I will return to again and again. I don’t think one can ever get tired of appreciating your own country. When we go, we usually camp! Now I know it goes against the norm, I understand the desire for luxury on holidays, but camping has been a decision that our family has taken. Firstly it costs a whole lot less, which means there is money for other experiences and more holidays, but most importantly, we find that camping removes 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.”
A happy holiday for us, includes 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. I personally believe it is a healing process for a family and for yourself.
One of the things I always discover on holiday, that I never quite realize just how much I miss it… is silence.
I revel in being away from work at first, then being with my family, then seeing something beautiful and then I usually hear something in the quiet that I don’t hear often: 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 have realized that I personally have 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 the cliche “time for myself,” more sleep, “getting away” for an hour or so.
I found that extended silence was what I need and what I think every person needs. Extended silence means you can hear yourself think and talk to yourself. As I listen to my own thoughts, I hear stuff I didn’t even realize was there: thoughts and attitudes that are lies. I listen to my inner voice giving in to despair, anger and un-forgiveness. I listen to my inner voice wailing at God for what I did not have. I listen to my inner voice asking God if He still loves me. I listen to myself asking Him if life was worth it and what was the point of it all?
On one such holidays extended silence, I remember that in the silence God answered like never before. No it was not a “Ah-ha!” moment. 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, and there we will be rewarded.
“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 is always good for my soul and I am sure your soul needs it too.
Lord, my soul thirst for You and I long to spend extended time with You. Like David, the deep in me calls to the deep in You (Psalm 42). Lord please make this extended time possible for me, a time where it can be absolutely quiet and I can actually hear myself think and sense Your Presence. Help me to come to that place of peace, a communing of my spirit with Yours where I can put my hope in You. I long to be with You Lord because I know that in Your presence there is a sweetness and joy that cannot be explained.