The Silence of Saturday

“You liberate me from my own noise and my own chaos,
From the chains of a lesser law You set me free.

In the silence of the heart You speak,
In the silence of the heart You speak,
And it is there that I will know You
And You will know me” – Audrey Assad

“Communion with God in the silence of the heart is a God-given capacity, like the rhododendron’s capacity to flower, the fledgling’s for flight, and the child’s for self-forgetful abandon and joy.” – Martin Laird

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A few months ago I lost my faith.

Not my faith in God. But my faith in words, in human language. My faith in my thoughts and my feelings. My faith in my experiences. I lost my faith.

God was still there in mysterious splendour, in gentle humility, in magnificent beauty, in peacefully constant faithfulness. I just couldn’t find the words to describe him. How do we describe the Infinitely Indescribable? How is it that the Great Unknowable makes himself known?

In this place you tend to question a lot of things. Why do I do this? Why do I believe this about God? Why does a church gathering look like this? Am I just going through the motions?

God was still there. Shining on like the sun. Patient.

I have spoken much about surrender on this blog. The importance of going all in no matter the cost. Publicly and privately I have cried and wept, I have danced and flailed, shouted and sung, laughed, knelt down, laid down. I have gone on that journey of opening my heart to the Lord. Choosing to surrender in any way that I can. In the loud or in the quiet. I wanted to give my all.

The problem with all of the above is that they involved me doing things. Tim choosing to dance. Tim choosing to sing. Tim choosing to lay down. Tim choosing to shout. Tim doing whatever he can to surrender himself before the Lord.

I’ve come to realise, maybe even in the last week, that there is an invitation to a deeper surrender. A surrender not so much focused on doing but a surrender of being. A surrender of silence.

There is not much that the Bible tells us about Holy Saturday in the Bible. Joseph of Arimathea asks Pilate for Jesus’ body and lays it in a garden tomb. Luke’s account states: “It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.” (Luke 23:54-56)

Everything stopped for the Sabbath. A holy pause. A silent moment where hope is seemingly dead. How did the disciples feel? How did they cope with the inner turmoil of the events that proceeded this silent Sabbath? The man they had followed for three years was dead. His body lay in a tomb. They had given everything – they had left all they had to follow him. They had believed when others doubted. They had become his friend. They knew him. They had seen the miracles, the signs, the wonders. Through him they had seen God. Yet now he was dead. Hope gone. Hope in the ground. Hope behind the stone. How did they feel? What grief did they experience? What questions ripped apart their very being?

And the response to their questions, their bitter pain, their devastating disappointment, their anguish and torment? Nothing. Not on Holy Saturday. Silence. Emptiness. Nothingness.

There’s not much the Bible tells us about this Sabbath because there is not much that the friends and followers of Jesus could have done. Sabbath… stop, rest, pause. Silence.

There is nothing that they could do.

There is a deeper place of surrender that does not revolve around what we can do. This is the surrender of silence. It is a surrender where we acknowledge that there is nothing that we can do. Instead we respond to the invitation to embrace the silence of Saturday. We acknowledge our questions, our doubts, our fears, our insecurities, our emotions but we are not defined by them. We let the confines of human language fall to the floor and we are simply still. Whereas my journey of surrender thus far has been dictated by internal thoughts and feelings, which have then led to external action, the surrender of silence simply stops and is still. The former is valid and important and I am not discounting what I have learnt and how I have grown to know God. He has loved my heart. However, the latter is beautiful.

The surrender of silence is a place where we learn to simply and profoundly be. The journey before was full of noise! Brash, bold and boisterous. What is more precious than sitting before Limitless Love and not needing to do anything other than silently be?

Have we truly learnt to surrender until we know how to be still? There is an inherent silence to surrender. A silence found in the deepest reaches of our hearts.

In this place we learn that there are no words, no thoughts, no feelings, no actions that can define us. There is only the love of the Infinite Father. This is a surrender that is no longer based on what I can do. It centres on who he is. Yes, I have my questions, my fears, my doubts, my insecurities, my frailties… but they are not my identity. They are not who I am. All that matters is him. Fix your eyes on the one who is Perfect Love.

There is a silence on this Saturday. Our precious Saviour lays dead and there are more questions than answers. Words cannot describe how we feel, the thoughts that rush through our heads, the pain we’ve experienced, the loneliness we’ve felt, the grief, the torment. We know not what to do.

Embrace the silence.

Breathe.

Acknowledge the questions, the doubts, the thoughts and feelings and move on into the realm of silent peace where we can gaze into the eyes of our heavenly Dad.

Holy Saturday is an invitation to surrender. It is an invitation to be still. It is an invitation to peaceful, beautiful silence.

“You can have it all Lord,
every part of my world.” – Brian Johnson


Thank you to Richard Rohr and Martin Laird who, through their writings, have provided words and inspiration for this journey when I had no framework or words for myself.

An Untroubled Heart – learning to receive Jesus’ gift of peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27 (NIV)

It’s easy to feel peaceful and live with an untroubled heart when you are sailing calmly in a tranquil sea. But what happens when the storms of life are making it feel like the boat you are on is capsizing? It can sometimes feel like there’s a disconnect between what Jesus is teaching and what we are experiencing. John 14 records the words of Jesus to His closest friends just before He is betrayed by Judas. The disciples are a bit confused by what He’s saying – in particular that He’s about to leave them. I wonder if, in the turmoil of the next 48 hours, they managed to remember any of Jesus’ final words, particularly the verse above. It’s an interesting thought. Personally, what I’ve noticed is that when life throws rubbish at me, I tend to forget Jesus’ words and I allow my heart to be troubled and my life and emotions to be anything but peaceful! I am often like the disciples who scattered, hid, doubted and questioned Jesus after He was arrested.

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Stormy Circumstances

My recent situation has often felt bleak – the contract on our house ends at the end of November and I the only options available seemed too far away. Moving out, as well as a few other circumstances, has meant that I’ve been a bit short on money as well. Now, I’d obviously love to say that I have spent the last month full of faith in a God that loves me and always provides, but sometimes (read: a lot of the time) I’ve been full of fear and doubt – I’ve been anything but peaceful! My heart has been troubled and I have been afraid of what was to come. Last week was particularly bad. On Monday I was crying and asking someone, “I have no where to live – have I made the right decisions this year?” By Friday, with no solutions on the horizon, my conversations with God looked a little like this: “HELP! Are you actually going to come through? This is rubbish! What should I do? Why don’t you help?”

It was during one of these conversations that God started speaking to me through John 14:27. I was reading this verse and a few realisations came to mind:

  • “Peace I leave with you” – Jesus has left his peace with His followers – it is available here!
  • “My peace I give to you” – not only this, but He actually gives us His peace – it’s a gift! He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and He gives us His peace! Let that truth sink in!
  • “I do not give as the world gives” – the world makes promises but rarely comes through on them. It offers and promises so much, but never quite gives the delights that it spoke of. The gifts that the world gives are often empty and they never truly satisfy.
  • “Do not let your hearts be troubled” – this is a warning! Don’t let your heart be troubled, don’t even give it permission to feel like that! Don’t let it happen!
  • “Do not be afraid” – another warning – don’t let fear creep in! When circumstances look bleak, do not be afraid. Instead, look to Him and receive the peace that He gives to you.

I found this challenging! We have a choice! He has left His peace for us and we can live in this peace, but often we allow our hearts to be troubled and afraid. He says “do not let your hearts be troubled”! Don’t give it permission. The Amplified translation adds: “[Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]” On Friday, as I read this verse, I allowed the depth of it to penetrate my heart for the first time. I had been living in fear with a troubled heart. I was not peaceful. And so I started praying:

Fear, you do not have permission to be here.

Heart, stop being troubled!

No more feeling unsettled, no more feeling agitated, no more feeling disturbed!

Jesus, I receive your peace.

Jesus, I receive your peace.

Jesus, I receive your peace.

And you know what? I had to do that over and over again. Because sometimes you know something in your head, but it takes a little bit of time for it to get to your heart. As I prayed, slowly I felt that peace. Slowly, slowly, slowly my mood changed and I began to trust. I let go of the troubles and received His peace.

Life is not easy

Here’s something that I am constantly learning: life is not always the easiest thing. There are ups and downs. There are calm and peaceful seas but there are also raging storms. And sometimes Jesus asks us to step out the boat and walk on the stormy waters. It would probably be a lot easier to walk on water in a calm sea. But instead He asked Peter to step out of the boat when there was wind and rain and waves. He asked Him to step out of the boat in the night time when it completely dark. Sometimes He asks us to trust Him in the hard circumstances too! Sometimes He asks us to trust Him when we cannot see the outcome. Am I going to trust Him when there is nowhere to live and little money in the bank? That has been the question! In that hard moment the tough option is to lay down my troubled heart, take His hand and step out into the darkness and into the waves.

Here’s an interesting thing: after praying and going on this process on Friday, I returned home to find some amazing people had offered me a place to live. On Sunday, I received an anonymous envelope with £50 in it which has alleviated some of the money issues and on Monday I received a £20 Amazon gift voucher. I’ve always been pretty convinced that God is the best Dad and loves to provide for us. Sometimes He does straight away! But sometimes He leads us through the storm to places where we learn to trust Him in a deeper way. Why does He do this?!! My rational mindset says it would be much easier to get to know Him in the easier times. But there are lessons we learn in the stormy circumstances that we cannot learn in a tranquil sea. Because it is in that place of trust that we get to know Him better – we learn that He does come through in the most desperate of situations! We depend on Him more when we actually need to depend on Him! I have experienced a deeper sense of His peace in the last few days than I would have if I’d managed to find somewhere to live two months before. We deepen our trust in Jesus and our relationship with Him in the storms of life. That’s the reality!

Trust without borders

I have been listening to ‘Oceans’ by Hillsong United a lot recently. I love the lyrics at the end of the song:

“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”

This is my prayer! Holy Spirit, lead me to the places where my trust in you has no boundaries! I want to know you and have that deep relationship with you. I want to live in peace in the storms with an untroubled heart!

  1. Are you living in His peace or is your heart troubled?
  2. What steps do you need to take to live with an untroubled heart?
  3. Do you find it easy to trust that God will provide in the stormy circumstances? Do you find it easy to receive His gift of peace?

I’d recommend taking time to listen to the song I quoted above and allowing Holy Spirit to release the peace that Jesus left as a gift for you into your heart. Accept His gift. It’s free. I’d rather live with an untroubled heart!