We live near a busy road, one that my son Chad and I jokingly call “the drag strip”
The noise pollution from the “drag strip” is substantial, consistent, and—if I can be totally honest—a bit annoying at times.
Enter Plains, Montana.
A curious name for a small town nestled in the mountains of western Montana. There are no plains to be seen anywhere. Just mountains. I was in Plains to kick off a consulting engagement with a church. (By the way, you can check out our consulting services here.) All of the motels in Plains were full, so the church put me up in an Airbnb about 4 miles outside of town. This beautiful plot of land in the mountains was the anti-drag strip. There was absolutely no noise. None. Not even bugs chirping. The silence was deafening. Thick. And a little bit unsettling for this city-boy.
I felt some anxiety in the quietness. There were no electronics to distract me. Laura wasn’t able to travel with me this time, and the thick silence in a strange way made me miss her even more than I normally would.
And I remember telling the Lord about my sense of anxiety and loneliness, and I heard these words ring inside of me: “John, I am here in this cabin with you.” I know intellectually as a Jesus-worshiper that God is always with me. In the book of Hebrews we’re assured: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” But in that small cabin tucked away in the mountains, where the silence was so thick you could cut it with a knife, His presence became freshly real. And I felt my discomfort lessening.
Have you ever been overwhelmed by silence? Maybe not in the same sense I was—but perhaps silence when it comes to your relationship with God? Ever felt like: “God, I’m trying to figure out what it is You want me to do, and I’m not hearing from You.” Whether it is trying to solve a problematic relationship issue, or determine what the next season of your life might look like—you’ve been calling out to Father God for direction, and it seems as though He’s not answering. Or playing cat and mouse with you. The divine silence at times can seem deafening.
Here are two things I learned in that isolated setting in Montana two weeks ago:
If you belong to God, He is with you in the silence
When you can’t hear Him, He is with you. When you feel alone—you aren’t. When anxiety and fear want to take over, He walks hand-in-hand alongside you. When you feel alone, anxious, and/or afraid, your Heavenly Father pulls you closer to Himself. When we tap into the reality of His pervasive and persistent presence, silence won’t freak us out as much. The truth is, we can take the ongoing nearness of God to the bank. He’s with us even when the silence is deafening. Here’s the second thing I learned:
If you belong to God, He is with you in the noise
The silence you’re experiencing today won’t last forever. As I write these words, the noise of the drag strip roars in the background. Life is back to normal. Once again, I’m around the humans I love the most. Being around the familiar has a soothing effect on my mind and emotions. Can you relate with that?
But here’s something that’s come home to me: God was with not only with me in the deafening silence in Montana . . . He’s also with me in the middle of the sometimes deafening noise back home. He’s calling me to come closer to Him. To discern His voice above all the noise competing for my attention. I sense His urging to not allow the fast pace of the city I live in to overrun my life.
Maybe you’re reading this post today and waiting on an answer (or multiple answers) from God. Perhaps you’re feeling a bit panicky because God seems distant . . . quiet . . . deafeningly silent. Take heart my friend. If you’re a Jesus-worshiper, He’s with you—for real. He’s actively working on your requests, even though right now you might not be seeing any movement. He’s responding to you even though in the moment, you may not be feeling it. In due time, the silence will be deafening no longer.
Or maybe you find yourself constantly living near a “drag strip.” The noise of life is drowning out the most important voice in your life. Father God’s voice. You may not be able to travel to Plains, Montana to find silence—but can I urge you to find a quiet spot somewhere? Dial down the noise. Be still and let God talk to you, give you His perspective, and settle your heart.
So whether the silence or the noise is deafening, you’re never alone if you belong to Jesus Christ. Let that reality sink in and bring you a deep sense of peace today.
I’m rooting and praying for you!