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"I discovered in the silence, the voice of God." Kierkegaard
I’ve wavered back and forth over whether or not to share an experience I had this past summer while I was at a family reunion in Island Park.
I’m not someone that has a lot of big, dramatic spiritual moments, and this experience was right in line with that pattern. Most often my encounters with heaven arrive as new ideas, a quiet peace, or a nudge to reach out to someone in need of reassurance they’ve not been forgotten.
Perhaps the reason this was such a powerful moment for me was due to several factors. First, I wasn’t really looking for something to happen. I wasn’t aware that I was in a state of seeking. Second, the past few months have been, for a number of reasons, spiritually challenging. It’s been harder to feel God’s presence in situations I would normally have at least felt some guidance in. I believe He’s been listening when I pray, but answers and assurances have been hard-won.
Finding God is hard. It just is. Sometimes it’s frustrating to try so fiercely to find Him, to hear Him, to feel Him.
And then, once in awhile, there are “clothesline” moments.
When I was growing up my mom used to dry our laundry outside in the summer sun. On days when she would dry bedsheets, you could stand on one side and see the shadow of someone standing on the other side without knowing who it was. And if they leaned against the sheet, you could extend a hand and brush against them if you wished—they were right there. So close. Close enough to touch.
That’s what this moment felt like.
It was just after 5am. The house we were holding our family reunion in sat right next to Henry’s Lake in Island Park. When I woke briefly and glanced outside, the sky was just beginning to lighten. Normally when I wake up this early, I try to quickly go back to sleep, but I couldn’t resist the chance to watch the morning arrive in such a quiet setting.
I’ve included pictures I took of the moment. They don’t really require comment, but I want to use this experience to share something I feel is becoming even more important, so I’ll try and explain what happened in this place and what it meant for me and could mean for someone reading these words.
The quiet was so everywhere. Not another person around. The water was still. No sleek speed boats disturbed the water. I could still see stars if I looked straight up as the horizon changed from dark blue to red to then to the softest tinge of orange. As I sat on the small dock extending into the lake, I strained to hear all of the things happening around me. From across the water I caught the faint “whoosh whoosh” of wings moving closer. And then…in the dark emerged two pelicans soaring past me, fishing.
And then I felt it—felt a Presence. In this unreal quiet, a quiet I had not known in far too long, I felt more than heard Him say “I’m here. Right here. As close as you choose to let me be. I made this place, this moment for you so you could find me again. I’m not so far away. Be still. Listen.”
I didn’t want this moment to end. I longed for the memory I would have while still in the moment of its making.
I found I had less and less to say, until finally, I became silent, and began to listen. I discovered in the silence, the voice of God. - Soren Kierkegaard
Much has been said and written about the need we have for more stillness and solitude. I’ve written and spoken on this subject myself several times. But how quickly I forget. Perhaps you do as well. This experience, ephemeral and simple in the most profoundly simple way, brought to the surface a truth I’ve known for over forty years: God is not hard to find. We just need to search for Him in the right places.
Are quiet places required for such moments? They certainly don’t hurt. But more importantly, I think learning how to quiet myself is what is needed to invite heaven to draw near. That requires new habits and letting go of my obsession with productivity.
Some of my favorite passages about the Savior refer to Him self-isolating. We don’t find it odd that He took time away from ministering to others in order to draw close to His Father. Even the Savior needed quiet time. Again, I need to fix my eyes on Him. (I could just write that sentence over and over again, but you probably wouldn’t appreciate that.)
So, back to the lake. or rather the feeling of it. In stillness. With a quiet heart.
(This beautiful song from Sissel is a lovely reminder of how much He wants us to slow down and give Him our attention.)
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Next week, the story of the man at the rest stop, and why he’s still out there, waiting to be seen.