Stepping into silence makes one realise how very noisy our outer and inner worlds are. At my church’s silent retreat on the day before Easter—with phones and voices muted—my thoughts still clamoured inside me like noisy toddlers demanding attention.

I herded the raucous tykes into the corner of my mind just long enough to hear God’s quiet voice (how I wish he’d speak a little louder!) but back home they’re running wild again.

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).

In our over-stimulated, over-saturated age of 24-7 everything, being still and knowing he is God does not come easy. Yet, reading the resurrection accounts this week, it struck me that it wasn’t that easy in the first century either.

Over and over again as Jesus appears to those closest to him, the Bible tells us they did not recognise him.

It happened with Mary weeping at the tomb (John 20:15).

It happened with Cleopas  walking with his friend on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:16).

It happened with the disciples fishing at dawn on the Sea of Galilee (John 21:4).

My first thought is, how is it possible that they knew and loved Jesus, but didn’t recognise him?

But then I think of my own life, with all it’s external and internal distractions, a life seldom still enough to hear Jesus’ voice or recognise him at work. Ironically, much of what keeps me so busy and distracted is ‘good’ and even ‘religious’. Reading and listening to spiritual books and podcasts. Being the Facebook administrator for a Christian ministry. Listening to and supporting friends. Writing and mentoring other Christian writers.

Sometimes I’m more like Martha bustling about preparing a meal for Jesus, while her sister Mary sits at his feet and listens to his voice (Luke 10: 38-42). I love the gentleness with which Jesus rebukes her…my dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details. There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it…

I’m still wrestling with how to balance all this out in my life. How to step out of the driven, overwhelming 24-7 world into an oasis of silence and peace. How to serve in the ministries God has called me to, while also sitting at his feet. How to listen to the voices of good Christian teachers, but ensure the primary voice I hear is God’s.

“There are sacred moments all around us. To see them we have to slow down. To take them in we have to stop.”(Ken Gire)

I don’t want to miss any of the sacred moments. I don’t want to fail to recognise Jesus as I’m walking with a friend, or  weeping at a loss, or basking in the morning glory of a lake. He is there, but if I don’t slow down, if I don’t stop, the moment will slip past. Unnoticed. And I will remain unchanged.