Andrew Hughes | Category: The Christian Life
For some reason, it can be difficult to sit in silence. Before all you parents dismiss me entirely, saying “What!? I’ll take silence anytime I can get it!,” hear me out for a minute. Do you find it hard to sit still and be quiet…without talking, without pulling out the mobile device...or even, at that, a book? Silence and stillness can be awkward-- in conversation when no one knows what to say next, at a restaurant when the music suddenly stops playing, or in a corporate worship gathering when we have silent reflection and aren’t being stimulated by music, speech, or fellowship.
In the arena of fine arts, dramatic pauses intentionally highlight aspects of a song or story. Likewise, I would submit, as one who admittedly struggles with this area of “sitting still,” intentionality with silence in the rhythm of our lives can have dramatic effects.
I don’t intend to outline a comprehensive Biblical Theology of silence here and what it means for God to be silent (that would be worth doing though if you have time to study it); but, I simply highlight two aspects that human silence represents in the Scriptures: reverence for God and rest in God.
Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 beckons reverence and fear towards God through silencing the lips: To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words.
I also think of the call to restful silence in Luke 10:38-42 where we see Jesus rebuke Martha for her “anxious” and “distracted” serving while Mary chose the better thing of sitting quietly and listening to the words of Christ.
The urge to speak before listening and the impulse to frantically work before resting in God is something that resonates with me and takes intentionality. Being silent and sitting still might be the last thing you want to do. It feels more productive to plan, move, create, analyze, … or just zone out and stare at the wall. Silence and quietness of soul is not mindlessness but rather a listening to the words of God, resting in His words, sitting at His feet. It reorients us to rely on His strength and sovereignty in the midst of our planning, moving, creating, and analyzing.
One memory of silence is forever etched in my memory and has deeply impacted my view of God. Every night, after our family dinner and family Bible study, my dad would begin our prayer time with a long pause. In fact, I can clearly remember this long pause anytime he would publically pray period. I can recall intuitively knowing that Dad paused to speak because of Who he was speaking to. This moment of speaking to God was significant, not to be taken lightly, or in a rushed manner. Yes, to talk to God is to talk to a friend; however, it’s also a conversation with a Good Sovereign King. If that never engenders a pause in our words or a silence to our frantic movement, then don’t be surprised when you are filled with anxiety from running to self and resting in your own energies. Today, find time, even a slight pause, to stop talking, and simply sit at Jesus’ feet.
Okay, it’s time for me to be quiet now.
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