Sitting silently and still is not easy for someone with Tourettes Syndrome.
Over the last few years, however, God has given me the grace to sit in this posture with Him most mornings. Below is a brief outline of my experience in hearing and discerning The Fathers voice in these moments–which consequently seems to mirror Elijah’s experience in 1 Kings 19.
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah goes and stands on a mountain waiting to hear the voice of God regarding his distressed situation. As he waited for the Lord to “pass by,” Elijah experienced a wave of three things before God’s voice finally came.
“First came a fierce wind that tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before Elijah. However, the Lord was not in the wind.” - 1 Kings 19:11a
When I first sit down to hear from the Lord, I am typically hit in the face with an immediate and furious wind of random thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Ouch, my underwear is up my crack.
I wonder if Cam is ok?
What if I have a heart attack right now?
Or, I'll picture Donald Trump pooching his lips at me or tell myself, "This is stupid. I'm crazy and wasting my time."
I have come to expect this fury of randomness and to be patient with myself during this initial storm. However, the Lord’s voice has never come to me in or through these initial moments.
“After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.” - 1 Kings 19:11b
After the wind of random thoughts, feelings, and emotions typically comes the second wave–the desire to move. As the thoughts, feelings, and emotions develop, my tendency is to act (or move) on these feelings and thoughts. I am tempted to break out my journal and write, turn on my computer and send an "important" email, or grab a piece of scratch paper and jot down insights for my next sermon. This is like an earthquake inside of me. It’s extremely hard NOT to do these things as they all seem so beneficial and helpful (and yes, urgent). However, I have found that in this too, the Lord’s voice is not found.
“After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.” - 1 Kings 19:12a
Then there is the fire of self-denial. At this point, EVERYTHING within me wants to act upon what I’m feeling and experiencing. This produces a "fire" in me to DO and not BE. My gut starts to literally burn as I deny these feelings and my desire to email, talk, journal, pray, condemn myself, etc. Frankly, it frustrates the hell out of me to not do these things–thus the fiery burn.
“And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” - 1 Kings 19:12b
At this point, I typically feel helpless–burnt up by self-condemning thoughts and guilty feelings coupled with the fiery frustration of not allowing myself to DO anything with my desires.
Then, out of the frustration and surrender of simply allowing myself to BE typically comes the whisper. The whisper usually sounds like something I would NEVER say or think to myself (although it feels like a secret I’ve always known to be true). It could be a phrase, a scripture, or a single word. How do I know it’s of the Lord? Well, before I know it, I’m usually shaking my head in agreement–agreement that I am prideful, or loved, or worse than I think, or better off that I could ever imagine–or all those at once.
This whisper quiets my soul, causes my shoulders to relax, levels out my breathing, and lovingly draws my attention to Reality.
And when I hear it, I typically close my eyes (i.e. “pull the cloak over my face”) and just sit still at the mouth of the One who continues to speak today.