As they drove away I told myself it would be a sweet time of solitude. I envisioned listening to the sounds of the wind between the mountains, mixed with melodies of birds and beasts and the rising river. I agreed to 3 days alone in the valley, while Jeff and the kids went with two friends to scale the heights of the high country. Consumed with their excitement about their destination and the peaks beyond, they were sure my valley time would be just what I needed. But that was before the volume increased.
For the first few hours, I relished the peace and quiet. I told myself I would love it. I read without interruption and wrote with inspiration. No one obstructed my view of the long expanse of fields leading to distant mountain tops. But as the day wore on, the silence grew louder. The emptiness of everything around me became obvious, and I longed for the sight of a familiar face and, even more, the sound of a familiar voice. Aware of my total aloneness, the wind and a host of other unknown sounds became the song of “vulnerable” and the volume grew. Without anyone else in my valley, I felt too afraid to venture out walking where shadows awaited me. I stayed inside where I felt protected.
As the day dragged into night, the volume of vulnerable grew with the darkness that comes early to the valley. Noises outside and under the cabin fed my imagination, and I feared evil would come to me, protected only by an ancient bolt on the door and flimsy cabin window shades.
I couldn’t wait to get out of the valley.
The loudest thing in the valley can be the silence. In longing for the familiar sound of one who loves us, we may instead find ourselves straining to hear soothing tones of companionship. In the silence, we can’t deny that we are alone. In the silence, we begin to imagine answers for the valley sounds. As the silence speaks, we realize we’re vulnerable and we fear it.
- We hear whimpering or heavy breathing, only to realize it’s our own.
- We hear groaning attempts at prayer, only to realize we’re attempting.
- We hear footsteps like wandering, only to realize we are.
If you’re in a valley, listen hard for what else is in the silence, for the absence of the familiar will allow you to hear what we often miss. You will need to “walk through the valley” to hear it, but you’ll find the valley isn’t completely silent at all. Instead, hear the still, small voice of God.
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19:11-13)
We may hear only silence at first, but it may provide the time we need to hear God in a new way, a way that says, “You’re not alone.” Do you long to learn to hear from God, to know His voice, and to experience Him deeply in an Elijah kind of way? To know Him like that, we often need time in a valley.
I’m not talking about an audible voice like a Pandora channel, but about the sound of God we only hear when all else is removed and the silence makes way for His still, small voice. His Holy Spirit comforts and guides, and He speaks through His word to answer our whimpering and our groaning and our fear. Valley time has a way of driving us to God’s word in search of the sound of comfort and clear guidance to recall what matters most. Only He can drown out the loud silence of valley days.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about another way God breaks valley silence.