Kings 19:12-13 12After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord
was not in the fire. And after the fire
came a gentle whisper. 13When
Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at
the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said
to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
What does it mean to be present? How does being in the here and the now look? If you are like me, I spend a lot of time either reviewing what I have just experienced or day-dreaming about what is to come in the future. I find it difficult to live in the present at times.
What also keeps me from being present is my thought process. When I am with another person, I often am formulating my response to their conversation to the point that I have not heard everything he has said. I am more worried about what I think and what I am going to say that I am no longer present for the person in front of me.
I do notice that some activities create presence for me. If I am involved in an activity that requires some concentration, I am in the moment. Certain job tasks, service projects, speaking opportunities, and physical work situations keep me present. However, I need to be careful and aware that even though these tasks are good works, busyness does not always translate into presence. In fact, I may be present in the moment but not necessarily present for others.
Elijah saw awesome wonders looking to see God. However, when it came down to hearing from God, in the silence is where God spoke in a gentle whisper. To hear that whisper, it requires silence and presence.
There are two components that helped me to better my presence: Silence and emotional awareness. I believe these go hand and hand. In fact, I believe that Elijah had both in his moment with God. Elijah had to be silent to hear the whisper. Also notice that Elijah pulled his cloak over his face. Elijah felt fear in that moment. It could be scared fear or respectful fear in the presence of God. None the less, Elijah was emotionally present.
For me to be present, I must quite my mind. I must push out all the distractions and thoughts that keep me from being in the moment. This is quite difficult. I have trained myself to be busy. Spending time in silence takes practice. I have found that when I put silence into practice, I become more present in the moment and for others. A side note here is the practice of silence when others are talking as well. I am working on listening more and responding less. And, also working toward my responses being a mirror of what has been said to me in order to be present for the person I am in conversation with.
Beyond silence, I must be emotionally aware. Throughout the day, it is good for me to check-in with myself and note what emotions I am feeling. This can be difficult because I may not want to open up the feelings of fear, sadness, and anger. But, as I have noted before, if I numb those feelings, I also numb positive emotions like joy, happiness, excitement, and tenderness as well. By knowing how I am feeling in a moment, it allows me to be present in the here and now. This also allows me to be present for others and their emotions as well. It allows me to “hold” their space and allows them to be present in the moment.
I believe that God looks to speak to us in our silence and presence. A challenge for me is to become more silent and present so that I can hear that gentle whisper. When I do, my life is never the same.
1. Explain why it is difficult for you to practice silence.
2. What do you personally gain for yourself out of the noise?
3. What might you be hiding from yourself through noise and emotional numbness?
4. Explain what it was like for you when you were truly present.
5. Take time each day this week to practice silence and emotional awareness. Notice what God does for you in those moments.
For men, a great place to learn more about silence and emotional awareness and how it can draw you closer to the grace of God, I invite you to join us on a Crucible Project men’s weekend in the near future.
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