The nature of our ministry means we get to anchor our boat all over the South Pacific. Depending on the weather conditions, sometimes the anchorages are a bit rough and you get a noisy sea swell slapping on the side of the boat. If we anchor close to a town wall or marina, you can often hear music coming from a local restaurant and the sound of small boats darting in and out is commonplace. When the wind is up, we can hear it whipping through our lines, as well as the lines of other boats near-by, creating a constant high-pitched din. Whoever said sailing was a silent sport has obviously never been sailing!
However, not all anchorages are noisy. There are plenty of times when we find ourselves in a bay that is completely silent. There is no wind, no sea swell, no rowdy music and no small boats carrying people backwards and forwards to shore. If we are lucky enough to be the only boat in the bay, it feels like we’ve found a tiny piece of heaven.
One such bay is a place called Gary’s Anchorage, part way down the Queensland coast of Australia. Tucked in between Fraser Island and the mainland, Gary’s Anchorage is completely calm. There is next-to-no wind, no sea swell and hardly any other boats. This part of Fraser Island has no houses or resorts, so there’s no music or conversations coming from shore. The only sound you can hear is the kookaburra calling its mate from time to time.
Recently we called into Gary’s Anchorage on the way through to Mooloolaba. As I lay on the front of the boat, marvelling at the silence, I began to hear sounds that I hadn’t noticed before. I heard the dugongs taking a quick gasp of air as they broke the surface of the water. I heard the crackling on our hull as fish knocked up against it. And I heard the white noise of cicadas calling from the trees on shore. The more I listened, the louder it all became. Eventually I counted 16 distinct sounds that I could identify by name. It dawned on me that the more I searched for sounds, the more I heard them. And the more I listened, the clearer those sounds became. Gary’s Anchorage is anything but silent!
Isn’t that also true when it comes to hearing God’s voice? How often do we complain that God is being silent, when the real reason we can’t hear His voice is that we haven’t stopped to listen? Psalm 46:10a says “Be still and know that I am God”. It sounds like a simple enough request, but I for one, often forget to be still in God’s presence. It’s easy for earthly commitments to take up every minute of our day and before we know it, we’re falling into bed exhausted, depleted and not up to listening to anyone – much less God. We might say a quick prayer or scan through a short devotion, but taking time to meditate on Him and wait for His response requires a commitment we so often neglect. It’s no wonder that sometimes we fail to hear God’s voice.
“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding – indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:1-5