I was in a small town in Colorado a few years ago — a place with only one stoplight and a population of around 2,000 people. Actually, I was a few miles outside the town, on the edge of a mountain where there were few houses, no bright lights, and — at 9000 feet above sea level — remarkably thin air. 

The first night of the visit I was outside with our host and he suggested I look up. The only way to describe what I saw is that it was awe-inspiring. It almost took my breath away. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and — being in the countryside away from the lights of civilization — there were tens of thousands of stars visible. I could see the outline of the Milky Way. Even the ground seemed to be lit by the light of the stars alone. You don’t see that in Atlanta,” said my host. He was right. 

In Atlanta I can perceive only a fraction of the stars I saw that night. Even still, as I leave the house in the early morning I often look up at the sky and thank God for showing off.” But the magnitude of difference in the Colorado night sky is impossible to describe. 

Back home one morning, as I got into my truck at 5:30am, I looked at the stars and realized that I was only seeing a fraction of reality. There are more stars there than I can see or even imagine. The lights of my subdivision, the city of Gainesville, and even distant Atlanta overpower the light of the stars. But the reality is still the reality. The stars haven’t moved or gone away. I just can’t see them because of the distraction created by other lights. 

I have to go to a different place to see clearly. 

Hearing the voice of God is a lot like that. Just as the lights of the city keep me from seeing all of the stars that are actually there, the noise around me — and in me — keeps me from hearing God as he whispers his personal message to me continually. And just as moving into the sparsely populated area of Colorado enables me to see stars I didn’t realize existed, so moving into solitude (simply being by myself) and silence allows me to be in a position to hear God speak. 

I have to look up to see the stars. But sometimes I have to look in to detect the presence of God. The stars take my breath away. But the Spirit of the God who created each one of those stars changes my life as I allow Him to whisper to me in solitude and silence. 

Solitude was practiced by Jesus, who often left his disciples to go to be alone with His Father. It has been practiced and proven by His followers through the centuries. 

Just as men and women have looked to the stars for a glimpse of the work of the Creator, I move to solitude to hear His gentle whisper to me.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”
(Psalm 19:1 – 4a; NIV Italics added)