Silence to Stillness: The Contemplative Way of Being

BLOG #15 February 9, 2021

Silence to Stillness: The Contemplative Way of Being

Elijah in shear silence heard the still gentle voice of God (1 Kings 19:11-13). As we become more comfortable with silence, we discover that the silence is not ours, for it is the silence of God that we enter into. In other words, we do not produce silence as much as we awaken to our being drawn by the grace of God into the eternal silence that has been and always will be in us and with us. For the silence of God, which we then discover paradoxically, is the most wonderfully inspiring place to which any human being can be awakened. It is the place from which all that exists comes forth in its purity, as it is meant be. In fact, the silence from which pure creation flows is the same silence from which the Word, Christ Jesus, who purifies tainted creation, most especially human beings, comes forth into the world. Christ Jesus, the Son of God is the holy purifying Word that takes away the sin of humanity that has made us less than we were originally created to be. To be contemplative is to live out of silence, to act out of being. Here we are given the gift of great faith that leads to full surrender, spirit, soul, mind, and body, to the will of God. Jesus showed us this when he was suffering in Gethsemane, when he came to the point where he said to God the Father, “…not my will but your will be done.”

"Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done." NRS Luke 22:42

The movement from simplicity to solitude to silence, which I have outlined over the past month, should not be seen as a linear step by step movement but a dynamic all-encompassing movement. However, I do believe that stillness, that allows us to fully surrender to God’s will, is virtually impossible apart from these first three ways of being. All of our 5 S’s are possible only by God’s grace. However, simplicity is something that we can actively work on, solitude is a combination of what we can reasonably do and what only God can do, silence is something we can prepare for but only God can give us. Now we come to stillness, which is beyond the human capacity to know in any way at all, thus it is only possible be pure grace. We can do nothing to prepare for it apart from being open to it by way of simplicity, solitude, and silence. There is Selah, a pause, as we are drawn into being still in the stillness God. Faith and humility have matured to the point that we become non-resistant and fully receptive to God’s overtures of love drawing us to be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10). This pause is a profound holy movement that transcends all human capacity, including the capacity to consciously cooperate with God’s grace. It is truly the very cusp of simply being in the midst of the One who truly is, the Great I Am, the Triune God. Stillness is the place of faith so deep that we can truly say Lord, your will be done with clarity that comes from a harmonized and balanced, fully alive spirit, healed and expanding soul, renewed mind and transformed body that has made straight the way for the image of God, our true selves, to awaken to effective and palpable unity with the Creator of the image, who is God. It is the way of perfect and absolute surrender that says “Lord, not my will but your will be done.” May your will Lord become my will. It is the surrender that marks the death to self, fully and absolute. It is the final pause and letting go.

The contemplative person hungers to live life out of the pause. Years ago, I enjoyed bowling. I was ok at the sport, but I always felt I could have been better. Later I learned that the best bowlers would pause before they began to approach the foul line and swing the ball into motion. I never did this, as I simply found my spot to stand, looked at where I wanted to roll the ball and I went. I think if I paused, I would have done better. I have discovered this to be the case in reading Scripture as well as I love the pause from which the Word of God flows. This is a holy pause as silence flows into stillness. When silence flows into stillness the contemplative person finds one of their greatest joys, for it is the place where we “In Christ” give ourselves fully without reservation over to the will of God. Out of silence comes the Word and back into silence does the Word return. Out of silence comes wisdom and back into silence wisdom does flow. Out of silence we see divine manifestations. (Deut.27:9; 1 Kings 19:12; Job 4:16; Psalm 62:1, 5; Isaiah 41:1; Habakkuk 20:20; Zephaniah 1:7; Zechariah 2:13; Matthew 26:63; Acts 8:32; Revelation 8:1) and when silence has become our home, we discover stillness purely by the grace of God in God, in Christ Jesus. (Psalm 37:4; 46:10; 107:28-29; Jerimiah 46:10; Mark 4:39). It is this divine stillness that we will explore more deeply over the next several weeks.

God bless you all,

Gene Yotka

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