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Jordan: Strength in the silence

I recently read about Saint Pambo, a monk who died in 390. Two of his brothers were arguing about whether monastic life or works of mercy in the world was better. He replied, “Before God both are perfect. There are other roads to perfection besides being a monk.” 

These discussions have been going on since the beginning of Christianity—truly, there is nothing new under the sun!

I love to see how the saints have such perspective on the issues that surround us.  That is why I love that my daily devotional focuses on saints with similar characteristics each month. 

In October, missionary saints were the focus, and I read about the lives of saints that went all over the world, many of them giving their lives as martyrs to share their faith. Reading about these heroes of the faith, some who traveled abroad even with poor health and stood up in the face of hatred with the love of God on their lips was inspiring to my soul and the sense of purpose in my life. 

To my surprise, as I opened my November devotional, I read that the saints I would be learning about that month were “Saints who Sought Silence.” 

Many of these saints were hermits and desert-dwellers. My fervor from the month before caused me to want to initially reject these stories. How can we share Christ’s love if we go off by ourselves? 

As the month went on, God surprised me with the realization that sometimes we need silence to have the strength to share God’s love. So many of the saints I read about preferred silence, yet when their superiors called them into action, they responded with obedience and powerful witness. 

How often in my life am I so busy doing that I miss the being? Being with the one who created and loves me and knows everything about me. 

Far too often, I start to believe the lie that I have the power to do all sorts of things when the truth is that without God, I can do nothing. As John the Baptist’s words remind me all the time, “He must increase. I must decrease.”

How arrogant of me to think that those who seek silence are looking for a cop out. Luke 5:16 says about Jesus, “But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” Maybe the truth is that I am often so full of myself that I don’t have room for silence with God.

Silence is hard for me. I come to God with the intention of being quiet and letting Him know that being with Him is enough, yet my mind wanders and focuses on me. Maybe I am the one who needs to go into the desert because for most of my life, I have been unable to be quiet with so many distractions around me. 

In so many ways, the Christian walk is a balancing act. How do we stay clear of the extremes and find the balance that God wants in our life—of reflection and action, of truth and mercy? We find much instruction in the Word of God but often times, when it comes to the details of our life, we must depend on the Holy Spirit to help us find that balance. 

As I look towards this upcoming year, my prayer is that God would be enough for me. That being in communion with Him will be the strength of my love and my true rest. That His love will be my food and that my life would in turn be a vessel of that love. 

We know that the Holy Spirit is here to lead and guide us in our lives, but how do I expect that to happen if I can’t be quiet enough to seek him? 

How thankful I am that God has shown me that hermits and desert-dwellers are just as much heroes of the faith as the missionaries I admire so much. Many of them sought silence, yet that silence made them spiritual giants whom people flocked to for guidance. God is enough. And when our lives reflect that, there is an irresistible beauty that shines forth in the often-hopeless situations around us.

Kasey Carty Jordan is a former missionary to China and currently serves in youth ministry with her husband Kurt at their Catholic parish. The Jordans reside in Monticello with their seven children.