the gift of God’s silence (part 1)

“I won’t let you burn out. I won’t let you lose your light.”

Some of us are weak flames barely burning. God will not extinguish us. Even a whisper could turn us pitch black. We are not a shimmering coal to be blown upon, igniting a new fire; just a weak flame barely burning. And God knows silence is the only way to keep us alight.

Who knew silence could be such an expression of love, empathy, compassion. God’s silence says, “I see you, I understand you.” Any more words might destroy us. Any more words and the light goes out. God holds the candle. He protects the weak flame with his cupped hand. “I won’t let you burn out. I won’t let you lose your light.”

We didn’t know how much we needed silence. The words of preachers and the passages of scripture and the lyrics of songs do not move us. They pass over, pass through, but leave no imprint. The church can be a hollow room, empty of inspiration. We see nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing. It’s all too familiar.

In God’s love God comes in silence. Every word is a weight so his silence is a gift. It saves us, those of us too worn out and weary to hear another trite phrase or simple answer or overused cliche. God’s silence is, at times, a gift. Even when we want desperately to hear, might not getting what we want hurt us more than help us? God’s silence may be a gift.

In a season of silence, we seek not to find noise but to flee it. The earth, quiet, solitude, waiting, watching, awareness, speaks enough for God and we need no words. God’s silence is a gift. God’s silence saves us. What we want are not words, just a simple, quiet nearness. God doesn’t need us to speak to him. We don’t need God to speak to us. We’ve said enough, spoken our voices dry. We’ve heard enough, listened until words are unintelligible. Now, we speak without words. Now, the language is silence.

“…Take your choice, prayers fly from all directions. / And don’t worry about what language you use, / God no doubt understands them all… // …Yes, I know, God’s silence never breaks, but is that really a problem? / There are thousands of voices, after all…” – Mary Oliver

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