“And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (I Kings 19:12)
The ministry was going well for the newly ordained pastor. Church attendance was increasing, the flock was being loved and nourished, new families were attending, and Sunday school attendance was skyrocketing. Many were enthralled with the young preacher because the sermons were practical and down to earth, challenging, thought-provoking and inspirational.
However, he knew the trap of pride and it coming before a fall, so he just kindly accepted the accolades, but didn't give them credence. Besides, he knew what others didn’t. He was frustrated, spiritually bankrupt within, empty, hollow and unfulfilled.
He was yearning for more... so much more.
Recognizing his emptiness, he thirsted and searched for something that would quench the craving of his own spirit. Unfortunately, like a person lost in the desert, there were many mirages. Each, from a distance, seemed to be the answer to the dryness of his soul, but the attendance at seminars and conferences simply made him more frustrated as he questioned others as to what was missing and how to grasp that which was so elusive.
Finally, one routine Monday morning, he sat at his desk and looked at the correspondence that beckoned his attention. With one frustrating push, the mail was shoved out from his purview to one side of the desk.
In desperation he buried his head into his hands and cried out to God asking what was missing, what’s going on, why did he feel so empty and unfulfilled? He waited, there was no answer, there was no revelation, there was no parting of the sky and there was no booming voice. Just heavy silence as his plea echoed around in his head and heart.
Determined, the broken man waited and waited and waited.
While waiting in the silence, many thoughts attacked and bombarded his mind. As if at war, the call to be doing “good works” raged. There were pastoral and hospital visits to make. So many important things that were a better use of his time than just waiting alone in that office.
However, he knew somehow that he just had to wait, and when thoughts and diversions crossed his mind, he just simply handed them over to The Lord. As he sat there in the silence in that tomb, thought after thought assaulted his mind, but the young minister denied each thought and prevented the siren call of busyness from gaining a foothold. He simply emptied himself by giving each and every thought over to God.
Finally, all seemed so quiet and so peaceful. A spiritual condition that the young man had never experienced, heard about, or was ever taught in seminary.
Incredibly, he found himself bathed in absolute silence. It was a very special place. He was empty and later likened the experience to being in the eye of the storm when the hurricane raged all around.
In retrospect the young man shared his story by saying he felt so calm, so serene, and so empty and devoid of anything and yet having everything. He then whispered, “Father, I take you, fill me with Your glory.”
No sooner were these words uttered, when a presence of refreshment and joy filled his being and overflowed into the very room that had become his sanctuary and school. He later testified to the fact that he loved—everything had been reduced to love. He continued in his witness by stating that he got up from that desk, that altar, and said that he was overwhelmed with the presence of God as it showed forth in him and through him.
Opening the window of his office it seemed, for the first time, that he heard the chirping of birds, felt the gentle wind kissing his face, and was enthralled by the bluest of skies. All of his senses were exhilarated and he loved.
Later on, he would add that the experience of that incredible morning wasn’t often repeated, but now he knew the reality of what he was sharing with others from his pulpit in the church and from his everyday pulpit.
In fact, his congregation would always assert that they got a new pastor that day. One whose actions continued to show his love and caring, but flowed from him effortlessly, as if from a hidden spring.
Ironically, in today’s day and age, we meet the challenges of life by doing something to counter those challenges. The lesson learned by the young minister that day is that the most powerful response to the challenges and difficulties of life is to first do nothing. Be still! Dwell in the stillness. Then once your own soul and spirit are intact, nourished and inspired you can proceed in meeting the challenges and turmoil of life.
Would you know a secret? There is a place, the eye of the storm that awaits the troubled, those caught in the winds of life. It is not out there, the secret place is inward and the key to unlock this place of wonderment and love is silence.
“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)
Born in Toronto, Canada, Brian Aird emigrated with his parents to Chicago, Illinois and eventually enjoyed the small town life of Wausau, Wisconsin.
Upon graduation from high school and one year of study at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, a 10-year commitment of service in the United States Navy was afforded which included many opportunities of education, life experience and travel.
After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy, he attended The Salvation Army School for Officer’s Training and was commissioned as an officer in The Salvation Army where he served in various communities throughout the western United States for a period of 12 years.
Following this life changing experience, the American Red Cross became a new arena of service for 10 years. Currently, his vocation is once again with The Salvation Army where he serves in Northern California as the business coordinator. Four lovely children and eight darling grandchildren decorate the lives of he and his wife.
He is an avid Green Bay Packers fan, enjoys the game of hockey and loves to write.
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