When the clouds close in – take 2…

I diligently try to publish posts which are complete and whole. This one defied that convention, so I’m doing a rewrite.

A couple days after I posted the original of this, I read some wisdom from Tony Dungy that struck me so strongly that I needed to include it. Here then, is the rewrite to include Tony’s wisdom. The message is so strong that it demands it.

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You would think from the photos I’ve shared that it’s always pretty weather, or seasonable, or worthy of positive comment in some way.

I have a couple of photos here are indicative of those which I don’t share. Last night it was raining lightly, and the clouds were rolling in from the ravine and are about to fill the back meadow with white obscurity.
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These are those times when the clouds close in, up here on the side of the mountain; and it’s very difficult to see anything beyond the edges of the meadows. It’ll be just a few moments now, before everything becomes obscured.

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And as the quiet descends, it opens the door for some wisdom from Tony Dungy. I am quoting as literally as possible (with a couple edits for brevity and for flow into this posting) from his book, The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge. This writing comes in response to 1 Kings 19:11-13, New International Version (NIV)
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

The world is full of loud voices trying to get our attention. Usually the loudest are the ones least worth listening to. When God spoke to Elijah, He did so with “a gentle whisper.” That’s how wisdom usually comes to us.

Whether it is God’s voice or the counsel of a friend, the words we most need to hear are the ones we actually have to make an effort to listen to. No matter how many friends you have, you probably only turn to a few when you need advice: my wife, good friends who give honest feedback and sound advice.

But most of us let a few other voices affect us too. The opinion of the crowd sometimes weighs more than it should. There’s no shortage of internal voices either: ambition, power, wealth, revenge, greed, pleasure, compromise, and self-centeredness. In one respect or another, all of these voices—whether internal or external—are simply expressing the ways of the world. And they can be noisy and relentless.

In order to hear true wisdom, we have to ignore some pretty loud words and listen to the subtle ones. Learn to tune in to the quiet voices that consistently speak truth to you. First and foremost, that’s God. Practice hearing His gentle whisper. But also listen to the counsel of those you trust: your spouse, your parents and other family members, your close friends. These people know you well, they have been with you in the valleys and on the mountaintops, and unlike many other voices, they want what’s best for you.

I would propose that sometimes when things go silent, God is encouraging us to listen to him and therefore to hear something other than what we see front of us.

So now I am back to looking at what little I can see of the meadow. And it is at times like this when I cannot see the ridge … or even beyond the edge of the meadow, that I am reminded that he speaks in the echoes of the quiet.

More importantly, the words he speaks will remain.

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