silence

The Right to Remain Silent

Be still and know that He is God

Be still and know that He is God

Despite the inherent right that we have to remain silent, we sure don’t exercise it very often.   The need to talk or at the very least fill the silence with something is overwhelming for most people.  There is a young man who drives around the streets of town with some sort of speaker system in his car commenting on what he sees as he drives around.  It is only funny the first time.  This need to fill the quiet is something I wrestle with as I allow for a moment of silence at the end of a sermon so that people might be able to respond to what God is saying to them.   There are people who want more and there are people who just cannot bear the dead air.  And to be fair, I live in a house with 4 children (3 boys) so there isn’t a whole lot of silence in my home.   If there is we probably want to figure out what is going on.

Even before God it is hard to be silent despite the fact that we can all recite the verse “be still and know that I am God.”  We wonder if being still is something that actually involves moving and talking.  Maybe “still” is a word that when we go back to the original language actually means “be boisterous.” Or perhaps being still is something we do while we sleep?

Silence is an appropriate, often overlooked, response to God’s Holiness.  Silence helps us take time to listen to what God might be saying to us.  Silence puts our heart in a posture to revere God in ways that we can’t when we are rattling off a list of prayer requests or lamenting about something in our lives.

I was reading Leviticus 10 the other day and was completely blown away by the phrase at the end of verse 3. “Aaron remained silent.”  What was that in response to?

Aaron’s sons were doing what boys do- playing with fire.  Except this wasn’t just any fire, it was fire that was to be used for God’s purposes.  It was holy and needed to be looked at that way.  The boys were playing with fire and they should have known better.  The text says that they offered unauthorized fire, which of course means that there was time and place for this fire.  They did not follow the rules and fire came out and consumed them.  I guess their dad never mentioned that if you play with fire you will get burned.  But here is what Moses said to Aaron:

“This is what the LORD spoke of when he said: ‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.” – Leviticus 10:3

Do you see what was at issue here?  It was not about the fire; it was about the holiness of God.  We can approach God so flippantly, but He is to be revered and honored  as Holy.  And so Aaron’s response, to me, was the more genuine response he could have had.  Most people would wail at God for that, but Aaron was just silent!  I mean, what could he say?

Do you need to spend some time in silence before God?  I would encourage you to do that because I know there is real refreshment in that time.   Are you experiencing heartache or struggle?  Be silent before God and worship Him.  There is fresh perspective gained as God is honored in our lives.  It is time to exercise your right to remain silent.

Advertisements

Listening for the Silence

Quiet?!

There is so much noise in my life that I have a hard time hearing the silence.  I have four children.  Each of them is capable of making their presence known in any situation.  I don’t really mind noise all that much.  In fact, when I am away from them and it is silent, I find that I need to turn music on in order to maintain the proper balance in my head.  The reason is simply that whenever it is quiet in my house it usually means something is wrong.

There is a time each night when the house gets silent.  As we sit there and relax, our eyes start to get heavy.  The pace of life is so fast that it can be hard to ever really stop.  This is not a complaint, this is the reality of life.  So, I don’t know what it is like right now to take a nap on a Sunday afternoon.  I hear it is nice.  I don’t know what it feels like to sleep past 6:30 a.m. anymore.  I guess it is appealing.  I don’t know what my life would be like without my children making incessant noise.  I know my life would not be as full as it is now.

Yet, what I find to be intriguing is how the Bible describes quiet.  If there is one place I want to experience quiet it is quiet that comes from the Lord.

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  – Zephaniah 3:17

That is stunning, isn’t it?  I certainly don’t know what quiet really is, but it says that not only does God take delight in us, but he quiets us with his love.  His love is far greater than anything we experience in our own relationships.  His love goes far beyond the frustrations, pains, and exhaustiong of life.  It quiets us.  It is where we find rest.

I can’t help be notice, though, that God doesn’t just remain quiet.  There is a time for quiet and resting and then there is a time for rejoicing.  As we sleep at night, there God is singing over us.  He delights in us and rejoices in us.  Why would the God of the Universe delight in sinful humanity?  Because of His love.

I don’t know about you, but that encourages me.  I find comfort in knowing that even in the midst of my chaotic life, God is with me, calling me to life in His Son Jesus Christ and taking delight in me.  No, I am not perfect, but I am loved.  It could be that we would all do well to stop each day and listen for the silence.  It is there where we let God’s love quiet us and we are able to then hear His rejoicing over us.

No, I don’t really know what silence is, but I hear it is nice.

Ah...Silence

Silence is not golden in my mind, silence is scary.  The main reason for that is silence is so unusual for me.  I understand what it is to have silence and I am certain I have experienced it before, but it has been a while.    In my house there are three boys, age 7, 4 and 2 and a 3 month old girl.  For me, normal life involves a lot of noise.   This time of year is especially obnoxious because all the windows are closed and the noise has no place to go but off the walls and into my head.  It is not unusual for my wife and I to be sitting at the table talking while the boys roll their cars down the hallway, ramming them into the door at the end.  Somehow we are able to communicate with that.  I think it is a skill that I am certain many people really are jealous of.   To help with the noise, we sometimes turn the radio on, which only makes them speak louder.  Now, I am not complaining, but just want to show you where I am coming from on this. In my world, if it is quiet, something is terribly wrong.  As a parent, if the kids are in the other room and I don’t hear anything I immediately go in there to see what is going on.

Noise is something that you just get used to having to deal with.  This works out alright because there is very little quiet anywhere in the world.   I have been thinking a lot about silence recently in light of the Christmas song ‘Silent Night.’  In fact, this concept has really been bouncing around in my head, along with the noise, as I try to really get a picture for what the original ‘silent night’ must have been like.

The night Jesus was born must have been somewhat normal for most people in Bethlehem.  I mean, sure the town was alive with activity because of the census, but otherwise it would be just another night.  And yet, away from the buzz of people, in the stillness of night, God left His throne and took on flesh.  As people went about their daily life and busyness, the Savior was born right there.  Can you imagine?

We know God did not keep this quiet for long.  He sends a chorus of angels to shepherds out tending their sheep and the stillness of the night was interrupted by a heavenly chorus. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” – Luke 2:14  The message was received and they went to see what has happened and returned glorifying and praising God.  Then of course there were the Magi who saw the star and came to worship this newborn “King of the Jews.” – Matthew 2:1  God got their attention and they are forever part of the story as a result.

Silence might be scary, but even more scary is the notion of God speaking and us not hearing it.  If we get too focused on our own little world, we just might miss what God is doing right in front of us.  What if the shepherds ignored the angels, or just weren’t willing to be bothered with it?  What if the Magi ignored the star and didn’t come to worship Jesus.  What if any of us, in the busyness of this Christmas season, miss out on the real gift of Jesus Christ because there is just too much noise?  What if God wants to get your attention and use you for some purpose in His story, but your head is full of too much chaos to hear it?  The only remedy is to take time to be still before God.  I know that goes against everything within us and makes some people literally shake uncontrollably.  I know there are long lists of things to do, but consider what scripture says.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

Noise will not go away, but we can find some quiet in it.  Take time to turn off the noise and be still.  Be still and rest knowing that He is still God in your life and loves you.  No matter what has happened to you or where you are, be still and know He is God.  Listen for the voice of the One who gave up His throne to die for our sins!  I know it is hard to do but the silence will only prove to enhance our celebration of Jesus Christ as we spend time with Him.

Silent Night! Holy Night! All is calm, all is bright, Round yon virgin mother and Child.  Holy Infant, so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.