Spiritual Disciplines // SILENCE & SOLITUDE
By Chris Bowlby
I like to talk. As an extrovert and a lover of people I love engaging with conversation with new and old friends. I like engaging with not yet friends. As much as I enjoy talking, I also see how my mouth can get me into trouble. I find that when pressed I have the tendency to defend myself. Have you ever been there? A coworker snipes a sideways comment, or a family member questions your choices, we want to lash out. We want to defend ourselves, our choices, our actions. We are skilled litigators in the court of discussion when our values or actions are challenged – we lash out, we defend, we rebuke. On Sunday, Donia talked about the fiery dart of self protection. We are all tempted towards doing what it takes to defend ourselves. Like Nehemiah, we can be unfairly accused or persecuted. At other times we deserve the rebukes we receive. But most of the time we face a mix of both; we are not a people without sin living amongst others that are in the same plight. How did Jesus deal with unjust persecution? When he stood before the Council and Caiphas the High Priest he was accused by false witness. Here is the interaction,
59 Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death. 60 But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, they could not use anyone’s testimony. Finally, two men came forward 61 who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’ ”
62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.Matthew 26:59–63 (NLT)
Jesus remained silent. In the face of the biggest miscarriage of justice to ever occur Jesus remained silent. God was his defender. God was his justifier. So he remained silent. We can be so busy trying to manage our image, or control others thoughts about us that we work ourselves into a frenzy. Richard Foster, in his book The Celebration of Discipline says,
One reason we can hardly bear to remain silent is that it makes us feel so helpless. We are so accustomed to relying upon words to manage and control others. If we are silent, who will take control? God will take control, but we will never let him take control until we trust him. Silence is intimately related to trust.
- Today we are going to practice silence. Today, if you found yourself misunderstood, don’t immediately defend yourself. Spend some time with God asking Him to give you clarity. While your immediate reaction might be to defend or correct, let God work on your behalf, or potentially give you correction.
- Spend 20 minutes in the quiet today. Do you regularly feel that you need to control others’ perception of you? Ask God to build a resiliency in you that trusts God in this way.