Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10 (NLT)
As a middle-aged woman trying to maintain some measure of physical health, I like to walk the two-mile loop around my neighborhood as many days a week as I can. As an eager-to-learn lay-level apologist, I look forward to using that 30 minutes to listen to something educational — you know — to maximize my time. And I have a lot to choose from. I’ve got podcasts galore, audiobooks, free seminary courses, and the entire Internet at my fingertips.
Some days I know exactly what to listen to. On those days, I put in my earbuds, press play, and walk confidently out the door. But I’ll be honest, there are other days when scrolling through the endless options induces partial paralysis. I become totally locked up due to my uncertainty. Is this podcast the best use of my walking time? Or should I start that new audiobook? Or finish one of the 15 others I’ve started? In times like these, I might linger on the front steps for moments on end before finally settling for something — a decision I’m apt to second guess a block down the road.
Now, I’m sure there are some who’d think this problem is just ridiculous. But for me…the pressure is real. I want so badly to do all I can to love God with my mind (a la Matthew 22:37), and I don’t want to miss any opportunity to learn.
Recently, I had one of those days of uncertainty. I stood on my front steps scrolling and scrolling through my options, feeling more and more anxious with every wasted moment. Finally — entirely frustrated with myself — I settled on finishing an audiobook and set out for my walk.
A couple of blocks into my walk, though, the anxiety hadn’t subsided one bit. In fact, it had grown more intense because not only could I hear the voice of the lovely British man so faithfully reading away, but my “inner counselor self” had begun piping in with words of logic and affirmation — fruitlessly trying to calm me down. (You talk to yourself, too, right?) In a moment of irritation, I realized I didn't need noise. I needed silence. #apologetics @TeasiCannon Click To Tweet
It eventually dawned on me that I wasn’t retaining a single word of the book and that my attempt at intellectual advancement was a total failure. I was irritated with myself and disappointed that I had wasted so much time. In defeat, I yanked out my earbuds and stopped the book.
And then I heard it. No, I felt it.
With the book turned off and my thoughts quieted, I felt lighter. I inhaled deeply, and my shoulders dropped. Then, I started to notice softer sounds like the songs of birds and the rhythmic sound of my feet hitting the pavement, and I knew. I knew that silence was what I had needed all along. The uncertainty and mounting anxiety I had so mindlessly ignored had been indicators on my emotional dashboard attempting to inform me of my greater need.
In my effort to seize every opportunity to learn, I was missing opportunities to be quiet. I was so desperate to learn about God that I forgot to find Him in the silence. #apologetics @TeasiCannon Click To Tweet
The Quakers call silence holy — a sacrament. And while I don’t endorse all Quaker doctrines, I must admit that I admire their practice of silence. They spend entire worship services in total silence. No music. No message. Just Friends (as they are called) practicing silence together. And they fully expect to be met by God there.
I’ll admit…that’s usually where I meet Him, too. Don’t you? When we get quiet, God has the space He needs to bring to remembrance the truth we need for the day. When we get quiet, He has room to correct or redirect us…or just love us. And oh, how we need that love! How quickly we forget that we can’t possibly give away what we haven’t first received.
The Quakers say that busyness is mental laziness. Talk about convicting! What I have called a diligent attempt to use all my time — time in the car, time putting on make-up, time cooking, etc. — to learn as much as I possibly can, they would deem lazy. Lazy living that makes no time for the hard work of the soul. I believe there is truth in that.
As apologists — people who give reasons for the Christian faith — let us not forget to give God room. If it’s been a while since you’ve walked without earbuds or driven to the store in silence, give it a try. The podcasts, audiobooks, and other voices will always be there waiting. In our effort to share the truth with others, apologists need to remember to give God room. #apologetics @TeasiCannon Click To Tweet
Special thanks to Teasi Cannon for contributing this article. You can read more about Teasi and her work on her website at http://www.teasicannon.com/.
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