I will fully admit that I love the Civil Wars. The band, that is, not any armed conflict that may have come to mind. Anyway, I was listening to their new album and the song “Same Old Same Old” played on the way to work. I couldn’t help but to note the tension created by the lyrics and the sparse arrangement that sandwich the song. And like a true writer, I was off and mind racing about how silences in our spiritual lives create tension when we’re hurting or waiting and looking for God to speak in the midst of the confusion.
Silence like a hammer
Silence, I’ll admit, can feel like the hammer coldly driving the last nail into the proverbial coffin. Those times when we’re begging God for an answer, a response, every moment can feel like that of an astronaut without a spacesuit. When I’m waiting on God, I wanted my answer yesterday, so I’m obviously impatient that I’ve been inconvenienced into today. But I am missing something, and my fear in the silence tries to tell me that what I’m missing is inconsequential. The fact is, what I’m missing, really ignoring, makes an eternity of difference.
Silence like a drought
Oftentimes, it’s the silence that leads to my growth. It’s the moment when I stop flailing around like a drunken whirling dervish, that I am able to sit in the silence for just a moment and see more clearly. You see, the silence isn’t a punishment. If anything, the silence God means to make us hardier like a short drought. Sure, we may start to wither, but the rains will come. God will speak once more. The drought isn’t a great analogy, but rain aside, God gives us silence so that we have a chance to slow down, think, and breathe more deeply. And then the rains come.
Silence before the storm
God seems most silent right before He is about to share with us something big. I had that experience last week. Honestly, it was a struggle and I felt a little cut off from His love. Toward the end of the week, I stopped frantically running around and tried to content myself with the silence. Come Sunday, there was a peace like none other and a revelation about Him that shook my worldview to the core. Normally, this latter fact would be detrimental, but with the peace came solid ground for my feet, so my shaken worldview did not leave me without something to stand on as I’ve experienced before. And right before my old foothold crumbled away, He showed me one that would take me higher and leave me more secure. This is how God works.
I hate silence most of the time. Our world is not comfortable with silence. But that is another conversation. Silence makes us uncomfortable and we grow uncertain as we can no longer hear the God we cannot see or touch. Days pass and we feel He has forsaken us, left us for dead. But, when we recognize these lies for what they are, we see God has given the gift of silence to allow for pause. And when we take the brief respite, seeking Him earnestly, we are prepared for the oncoming flood of grace. And we are once again overwhelmed by the love that knows no bounds, that heals all. It’s for this He’s preparing our hearts, but that takes silence.