ntering the path at the trail head almost felt like passing through a doorway into another hidden world. I left the hustle bustle of my daily demands behind in the lot where I parked my car. It was an early morning and there were no other hikers in sight. As I traveled farther down the path, the sounds from the street faded. I was only aware of the crunching leaves under my feet. My breathing deepened and my thoughts shifted from my stress filled week, to careful attention in maneuvering the stones and crevasses on the path.
I silenced my cell phone to minimize distraction and my mind began to clear. Those calls I needed to make, the emails I needed to answer, and the errands I needed to run could wait. This was my time to refresh, explore, and relax.
I kept my pace steady to gain the benefits of the exercise. My thighs burned slightly and my heart rate increased as I journeyed up a steep hill. Large tree roots crossed the path as well as an alternating pattern of light and shadows as the sun crept past the massive branches of the tall trees. My spiritual life came to mind as I studied the pattern. The straight and strong roots reminded me of the times I walked steadfastly with God. Roots that were twisted and superficial reminded me of other times I struggled with bitterness. Intertwining shadows brought memories of the disappointments and discouragements. The light pushing through the treetops displacing the darkness filled me with hope and endurance.
Soon, I reached the top of the incline and the view was well worth the climb. There was an overlook with a wooden bench strategically placed to take in the beautiful scenery.
As I sat still my breathing relaxed and the rustling of the leaves below my feet ceased. For a moment, the silence seemed deafening. I had become so accustomed to the chimes of my phone, background TV noise, music on the radio, the rush of cars and honking of horns.
Quietness was now magnified and the total silence seemed eerie.
My focus shifted to subtle sounds I might have otherwise overlooked. Nearby, a bird hopped from branch to branch in search of food began to chirp. A gentle breeze created a humming in my ears as it passed by. The creek below added a gentle rhythm as the water found its path around the large rocks that divided its flow. I heard a squirrel scurry after an acorn he carried up the tree. The initial silence was now replaced by a multitude of tiny sounds I would have missed had I not been listening.
I wondered how many times He might have been trying to speak to me, yet before His message could reach my ears and my heart, His voice was drowned out by the noise and chaos in my everyday life.
Somehow this reminded me of God’s voice. I wondered how many times He might have been trying to speak to me, yet before His message could reach my ears and my heart, His voice was drowned out by the noise and chaos in my everyday life. Noise that didn’t even seem like noise because I had become so accustomed to it. I recently had a conversation with a dear friend who’d recently achieved some successes and I took note of her description that God led, God provided, God showed, and God spoke to her decisions. For a moment, I felt alone. I pictured God’s voice in her life being heard as clearly as if He was speaking into a microphone and she was positioned right in front of the speaker to receive it. Why was I not hearing God’s voice with such clarity and volume?
There have been times I’ve felt God’s leading. It was so strong and I knew it was from Him, because I was able to accomplish things out of my will house and comfort zone. I was able to participate in a cause that eventually changed lives through Him. I remember the feeling that my heart was beating in my throat the first time I stood in front of a room of 50 people to share my testimony. I didn’t have the type of testimony of “always being saved as long as I could remember” like some of my Christian friends. My testimony included embarrassing failures and imperfections that I would never volunteer to verbalize without His leading and strength. In the quiet that now surrounded me, I realized that, I haven’t felt such a strong leading or focus in a while. Perhaps he has been speaking to me in a whisper; encouraging me to quiet the unnecessary noise so I could hear him.
Does God’s voice get softer and softer when His message to us is constantly being overshadowed by what we are more routinely listening to? His voice has never been like a booming speaker to me, but the gentle whisper that touches my heart couldn’t be more special. I don’t want my relationship with him to lie dormant. I don’t want him to try to commune with me without my response.
I reflected on Bible verses that describe God’s many ways of communicating. Of course, the scriptures themselves are God inspired and “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). His voice has been described as being projected through earthquakes (Exodus 19:18-19), whirlwinds (Job 38:1) and thunder (John 12:28-29). Yet in one scripture, when He is talking to Elijah, it is described as a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12). All these examples show that God can and will use His mighty power when needed to communicate, yet His gentle loving approach during spiritual quietness, can be as touching and powerful as moving mountains.
I finished my hike feeling refreshed in my body, but also inspired spiritually to listen and hear God’s sweet voice in my life. What noise do you hear? Is it the still small voice of God you long for? Do the sounds of daily life rise so loud you can’t hear anything? The quieter we become and the more we listen, the clearer His voice will be to us. May God give each of us the quietness we so desperately need and may we hear His gentle whisper.
By Cynthia Townsend
Cynthia is a retired RN and seminary graduate who seeks out beautiful moments through travel, photography, and writing. She is a member of Word Weaver’s, Int., North America Nature Photography Association, and can be followed at www.cynthiatownsend.com.