the gift of silence (part 2)

We are weak flames barely burning. Our voices can say no more. Our ears can hear no more. With God, there’s no need. He lets us walk ahead, fall behind. He does not lead with pressure. He does not wait with impatience. He is not fickle or demanding. He does not hold our weaknesses, failures, or defeats over our heads. He does not corral us with expectations.

So often, we are unmoved, and are ashamed of it. We can’t force ourselves to love what we leave behind. We can’t force ourselves to be who we no longer are. We are not who we are supposed to be, we do not live up to what is expected of us. Gladly, we give up the years of working, striving, acting, performing, chasing the rainbow, seeking the unicorn. The reward is the moment. The blessing is the grace that keeps us on our feet. God does not show up to give us a script. It’s what we’re running from, and it won’t help, it won’t save us. No. God shows up to give us his hands, empty of all the old ways we’ve thrown away. His gifts: empty hands, quiet nearness, showing us we are seen.

The silence of God. Often, we hear others speak of it in the negative—why is God silent, why doesn’t he speak, why doesn’t he answer, why don’t I hear anything? We’ve often heard it presented as a struggle we must survive, as a burden we must bear, with promises that someday it will get better, someday we’ll hear again. It is rarely, if ever, presented as positive or necessary.

Not until recently have I ever thought of it as a gift. In the past, it’s always been about words, about hearing, about answers, guidance, direction, about God’s will and purpose. When we come to God we want him to speak, act, respond. We want thunder, lightning, fire, we tolerate a whisper, but silence? Many have spoken on God’s behalf—family, friends, pastors and prophets and preachers and teachers, leaders, authors, musicians, other Christians. We have heard enough for now. In this sense, God’s silence is a gift. We welcome it. It is (if we are being honest) a relief. He must know we’ve heard enough. Now we need a long stretch of road with the radio off, letting the world speak in its own language. Even if it is one of silence.

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