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Bliss



Spiritual Training Cycle: Foundation (wk. 8/13)

 

Back in my corporate days, I had a work trip which took me to Scottsdale, Arizona. If you’ve never been, it’s a beautiful place. We were granted an afternoon off, which I used to enjoy a trail run and some time at the resort’s pool.

 

Sitting poolside taking in the soon to be setting sun, my phone rang. I picked it up, answered it, and had a brief conversation with a business colleague. As I put my phone away, a pool attendant walked over and handed me a small business card. I looked down, read the phrase, and put my phone on do not disturb. The three words still ring in my head today – silence is bliss.

 

Parents, back me up here. There’s something about that moment when all the babies are asleep, or all the kids are back in school. That peaceful moment when you sit back, take a deep breath, and let the silence of the moment deliver its well-intended joy. And bliss is a great word to describe it. Simply put, bliss means, “great joy.” There is great joy in silence. But not all the time.

 

For example, if you’ve ever been in a community fitness class when an athlete dropped an empty barbell, the silence that follows is anything but bliss. It’s more like a collective breath hold by the rest of the class while the coach decides how to “provide feedback.” There’s the silence that comes in the eye of the hurricane, or when the bombings in the Middle East momentarily cease. Not all silence is bliss.

 

I think this may be why people battle with silence. A study back in 2017 revealed how undergrad college students struggled with silence. Bombarded with constant background media, our culture has created a mass of people who fear silence instead of embracing it.

 

Perhaps that’s you. Let’s find out. Quick, turn off all the noise where you are. For many of you, that’s not even possible because there’s noise you can’t control. We struggle to find silence because we can’t escape the noise. Which is why I believe the spiritual exercise of silence is so beneficial.

 

Silence is a deep focus on God by turning off the world around us. But as we all know, it’s not always easy to turn off the outside world. And perhaps even more difficult is turning off our internal noise. Replaying in your mind what your boss said or the parent teacher conference or the tragic news about a loved one. It’s what makes silence challenging. But as I always say, what challenges you is what changes you. And silence is a great space to face your feelings head-on.

 

Let’s say you’re facing some financial issues in life. Maybe you’re in a profession that’s been hit hard by the economy, or you’ve been forced to take a lower paying job. If that’s you, then you’re probably asking God when this is going to be over. Underneath that question are some deeper feelings, and silence, or quiet time with God, gives you the space to sit with those deeper feelings.

 

Maybe you tie your value to your work. Maybe financial instability is a soul wound from your childhood. No amount of background media or “noise” will help you confront the truth. Instead, try placing yourself in a quiet room as free from noise as possible and invite God into the silence with you. Let Him guide you through the process of uncovering the why behind your why. Silence with God is bliss.

 

When the disciple John was imprisoned on an island to await his death, he had a vision. A vision of what was to come. John’s encapsulation of that vision is the book of Revelation. Near the mid-point of the book, John has seen Jesus open six seals of a scroll. Each time a seal was opened, a judgment occurred on earth. Each of the judgments came with pain and distress. But then, just before the seventh seal is opened, John sees a great multitude of Heaven gathering. And he hears these words about the multitude:

 

Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God    
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne    
will shelter them with his presence.
‘Never again will they hunger;    
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’    
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne    
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’    
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”
-- Revelation 7:15-17

 

What’s to come? No more hunger. No more thirst. Eternity with the Lamb of God as they drink from springs of living water. No more tears. No more sorrow. So what did Heaven do? They were silent in the presence of God!

 

When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
-- Revelation 8:1

 

Silence with God is bliss. Heaven knew of His eternal peace. And His eternal peace can be yours too.

 

Questions for Reflection:

What are some feelings you need to face with God?

 

When is silence peaceful for you? When is it not?

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