“Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather it is the deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present, you will never find it.” – Thomas Merton
Though quiet spots are essential for spiritual strengthening and quickening, they aren’t always attainable. As a musician and a worship leader, I am always surrounded by noise – always listening to music or in a conversation with a band mate. As a creative, I am also easily sucked into media. I will not deny it. Because of this, I know I must make an effort for silence, reflection, & meditation with the Lord to compensate, for the safety of my soul.
Silence is simply quieting your thoughts and listening to your heart. It is listening to the air and the sounds of nature. It is listening for the Lord. Henry Nouwen wrote, “Silence is the home of our words. Silence gives strength and fruitfulness to our words. We can even say that words are meant to disclose the mystery of silence from which they come.”
Reflection is getting to a place – both physically and mentally – where you can contemplate your life and your relationship with Christ. Reflecting on scripture is critical to developing your spiritual life, as well as becoming a more effective worship leader and communicator because we need the Word in us for it to overflow out of us. James 1:19 tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. It is in our seeking where truth is revealed.
Lastly, meditation is focusing on a specific element in scripture or a specific attribute of God and turning it over in your heart. Meditation is a combination of silence and reflection with a specific intention. An example would be meditating on the sovereignty of God, turning it over in your heart not to simply gain understanding, but to be overwhelmed by how sovereign He really is.
As a worship leader, I have said my fair share of dumb things from the microphone, but since I have started disciplining myself to get quiet – to listen more to the Lord before speaking – I now find myself communicating better and articulating my thoughts more clearly from the microphone. Jesus always found time to break away from the noise to be alone with His Father. We must do the same in order to have equipped minds and hearts. To be like Christ means we are listeners and meditators.
Having just moved to New York City I now realize why God has put me on a journey to study these practices. There is always a siren in the distance, horns honking and shouting. Looking for opportunities to find silence, there are none to be found.
What I am realizing is that I need to find silence in the midst of chaos. In the middle of a crowded subway, or walking five blocks to my destination, I can find opportunities for reflection. We can create moments of solitude in our everyday routine.
Leave the headphones out. Don’t play that game on your phone. Refrain from checking Instagram. At that moment, close your eyes, and dwell on His goodness. Find something of beauty, and consider His mercy and love.
He is in us and all around us. God is always with us. We must only train ourselves to be with Him, no matter where we are. And this will be our silence.
Will Retheford is a worship pastor at Every Nation Church (New York, NY), a student at 10,000 Father’s Worship School, & is working on his Masters from Southern Evangelical Seminary. He was worked with artists such as Gungor, The Brilliance, and David Leonard from All Sons & Daughters. Will’s latest single with his band Doxa Theo drops this April. To read our review of Will’s last CD take a look HERE.