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Long Beach, CA

Oriented by God's Whisper (Silence V)

Each of us draws our identity—our sense of who we are—from somewhere. Often, this “somewhere” is the accomplishments or successes we think can make us good or worthy of love (this is the whole stratagem of The Human Paradigm). Other times, the “somewhere” is our failures, which can make us doubt that we are worthy. But the message of Jesus’ baptism is that Jesus isn’t going to play either of these games, at all. Instead, he’s going to draw his identity from what the Father says about him. He’s going to cling to the whisper of God’s Spirit, which interrupts every other voice, external or internal. Jesus trusts that his Father’s declaration is enough, and this empowers him for a life of love and purpose. This is why Jesus so often withdrew from the crowds and the noise of life. Finding space “away from it all” recharged Jesus’ spiritual center, taking him back to the Jordan River and the transforming reality of God’s loving declaration over him.

As that pattern was true for Jesus, so must it become true for us. Our work is to come to believe in the goodness of God, and this only happens by coming to hear His voice.[1] This work, in the midst of a dark world, is challenging, especially if we confuse the pain and struggle of life with an experience of God’s will. God does not cause suffering. And becoming grounded in the whisper of God's Spirit can help us weather suffering well.  

The point of silence as a spiritual practice is that in the absence of external noise, there is space for God to break through our internal voice—as he continually did with Jesus—to free us to live from our adoption, becoming grounded in God. However, it takes a habitual commitment to silence to make space for this transforming whisper.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t often wake up with an immediate awareness of the loving whisper of God’s mercy. I often wake up tired and still wrestling with the failures of the previous day, or with a mental list of the things I need to get accomplished in the next twenty-four hours. Living in the past or the future comes more naturally than living in the present now of God’s love. It takes commitment to create space to be intersected and changed by the voice of God rather than simply treating the thoughts in my head as reality. It takes commitment to breathe slowly and prayerfully open myself to God and the whisper of His Spirit.

But I can literally feel the shift in my brain and body as I do it. And then, alongside my fears and doubts and self-focus, there’s the possibility of becoming grounded in God once again. This is basically what people mean when they talk about contemplation or silence and solitude. It’s the place where God’s reality overshadows and outshines the limited truths of our merely human minds. It’s where the truth of God supplants our limited truths. In solitude and silence, we allow the reality of God’s words to us to become the reality in our own minds and hearts. In this way, we begin to experience the “renewal of our minds.”[2]

We drift away from this reality, of course. It’s for this reason that our practice of silence must become a habit. In the same way my wife and I don't tell each other “I love you” only once a year, we need to be reminded continually of the grounding love of God. When we establish silence as a habit, our brains can literally be rewired by God’s Spirit.


For more on this and other transformational topics, click here.

[1] John 6:29

[2] Romans 12:2