The thought of not talking for 3 days freaked Jon right out. Though he is a quiet guy, thoughtful and reserved, he is also extremely social. The Silent Retreat was a required exercise for Jon’s TREK training; he had no choice but to participate. But then, how hard could it really be?
The intensity of the silence fell over the group like a wet blanket. Jon almost panicked; he became suddenly aware of the “noise” in his mind. Thoughts were screaming loudly and there arose in him a deep seated fear of being alone.
Each day he and I shared one hour together for spiritual direction. My conversation with Jon went something like this.
SAM: So what’s going on?
SAM: So your mind is blank? (I pushed him a little)
JON: Yep. Well not really. My mind is full of frustrating stuff. I am frustrated I can’t talk. And frustrated I still have another 48 hours to go.
[We talked about how to minimize the frustration.]
Day 3 the final day
SAM: How are things Jon?
JON: Not bad.
SAM: What are you hearing?
JON: Nothing really. Like nothing really radical. Nothing while I was reading my bible, nothing while I was doing those exercises, nothing while I was trying so hard to hear…I am glad it ends today.
SAM: Anything strike you ‘out of the blue’ in an unexpected way? (I know the Spirit prompted me to ask the question)
JON: Well, I have been thinking about one thing…but it’s no big deal
SAM: What is it?
JON: I think I heard him say “You are my son.”
SAM: Really? What were you doing?
JON: I was staring into the fire.
SAM: Are you sure it was God?
JON: Uh yeah. Who else would it be?
SAM: How did it make you feel?
JON: Awesome. But it’s nothing earth shattering.
[As Jon was getting up to leave, he turned to add…]
JON: Well maybe there is one more thing. But it’s no biggy.
SAM: I’d love to hear it.
JON: Well, He may have said “don’t worry.”
SAM: Really. What were you doing?
JON: I was drifting off to sleep.
SAM: Are you sure it was God? (seriously I went through the same routine)
JON: Yes I am sure it was…why would the devil tell me not to worry?
SAM: What are you worried about?
JON: My outreach in another country, what my team thinks of me, will I be able to see the finances come in…(and on and on)
SAM: (I cut him off) How did the impression “don’t worry” make you feel?
JON: Amazing, it was like the most peaceful way to drift off to sleep.
JON: Do you think I had to be quiet for two whole days just to become aware these faint impressions from God?
SAM: I don’t know?
JON: I think I was so distracted by the noise of talking and figuring everything out on my own, that I was missing the subtleties of His voice in unexpected moments. This retreat has heightened my awareness of His presence in crazy ways. God will talk to me, even while I sit alone staring into the fire or drift off to sleep on my bed.
JON: Do you think He will continue speaking to me when I least expect it?
SAM: What I know is that God enjoys talking to His kids. Some people hurry through years of life without ever hearing the words “Do not worry,” or “You are my child.” Jon you are a fortunate guy.
Jon left with a huge smile on his face. He had been surprised God. Though the retreat was specifically crafted for him to be silent, the actual moments of revelation came at very surprisingly insignificant moments. Doesn’t that sound like God?
Tell me something: When have you been surprised by God lately?