On the day before the Lord’s Day, find some time for silence.
It is not easy and it will certainly not happened by accident. There is a kind of ancient silence that we find hard to achieve today. With all the blessings of the industrial revolution in 19th Century and the information revolution of the 20th Century, a drawback has been the proliferation of noise. We have learned to live with a “silence” that actually rumbles with low pitch machine noises and sizzles with high pitch whirrs and whistles. We have to retreat far from traffic and industry and find the deep woods or the restless sea for a silence filled only with the sounds of God’s creation. For our Saturday purposes, let’s call “silence” the absence of sound and “quiet” the absence of any artificial sounds.
What is the benefit of quiet? The Bible uses several terms to describe being quiet before the Lord:
- be still,
- be silent, and
- Wait patiently for the Lord.
Stillness, the cessation of activity, is for some of us a difficult thing to achieve.
Modern life is sometimes a thing of inertia. Some of us are at rest and we tend to stay that way while others of us are in constant motion. The Bible says, “Be still and know…” There are things we cannot know, truths we cannot learn, concepts we cannot grasp if we are distracted by ceaseless motion. Stillness before God requires discipline. It is more than a physical stillness; we must also follow the words of the old hymn, “Be still my soul.” Some achieve this spiritual stillness by quoting memorized scriptures or concentrating on the person of Jesus. The reward for being still before the Lord is promised in the verse: “Be still and know that I am God and I will be exalted in all the earth.”
Silence before the Lord is a response to the belief that “the Lord is in His holy temple.”
This stillness, this silence in the throne room of God, stands in contrast to the majestic sounds recorded in the scriptural accounts of that location. In these the atmosphere is filled with sound, voices singing, instruments playing, and elders calling out, an accumulation of sound that is powerful enough to shake the door posts of heaven. The command of the prophet Haggai is given to the earth, not the worshipers around the throne of God. The writer’s setting is the silence of the earth before God rises in judgment of Babylon. For us, we should fall silent in honor of the Lord upon His throne. Surely He is about to speak. Surely we need to hear what He has to say to us.
Waiting patiently for Lord is another way of being quiet before Him.
Most people have a limited supply of patience. It is natural for us to want to hurry into the day, to fill the minutes and hours of the day with productive action. It seems the clock and the calendar have taken control of our lives and we are dancing to their tunes. It is important to cease from activity, to refrain from work, to find a comfortable position for waiting while at the same time we command our souls to be still, adding patience to our lack of action. Part of that patience is expressed in listening. When we retreat from the noise of modern life and force our minds to concentrate on the reality of God’s creation around us, we can hear “the music of the spheres,” as another old hymn says.
There are things we cannot know until we are still. In reverence before the Lord, let us be silent. In deliberate postures of rest let us be quiet today.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to be silent and a time to speak…
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
Isaiah 40:28-31 NKJV
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary,They shall walk and not faint.
Lord Jesus, I quiet my spirit before You. I will lay my questions aside. I will refrain from singing. I will be still before You, even in my restless mind. In stillness and in silence I will wait and as I do my strength will be renewed. My ceaseless mind will stop in its tracks for awhile. I will listen for Your voice. Speak, Lord. Your servant listens. Amen.
The Solitude of Silence
Words: Stephen Phifer; Music by Angela Danadio
1. In the silence of my soul, Lord, I will seek You.
In the stillness of my spirit I must stay.
I will flee from all the rush and noise around me.
In the solitude of silence I will wait.
For Your voice cannot be heard above the clamor.
You presence does not rest upon our haste.
In the silence of my spirit I will find you.
In the solitude of silence I will wait.
2. I will ask the singing winds to serenade me.
I will let the sunlight dance upon my fears,
Thinking back to those who listened here before me—
Silent laughter, silent prayers, and silent tears.
3. In the pages of the Book Your heart is calling
As the ancient words fall soft upon my ear.
Like an early season snowfall, cool and healing,
Heaven’s peace, a glist’ning blanket, quells my fear.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved