Encouragement From The Word

The sound of silence

My wife and I made our last shopping trip of the year to Costco on Monday.  (Why the last one of the year?  Well, let’s put it this way:  we find we are better able to bear the fruit of the Spirit when we avoid places like that in December!)

While there, I made a purchase I had been pondering for a while:  a pair of noise-cancelling ear buds.

They’re handy for tuning out the drone of an aircraft when flying, or when listening to music without background racket.

The reality of contemporary life is that “background racket” is pretty hard to avoid.  

If you sit in your home, there’s the sound of your heating system, or the refrigerator, making noise, albeit subtle, from time to time.

If you sit outside, you might have a neighbour assaulting your ears with a leaf blower.  (Don’t get me started.)

Unless you’re out in the woods, alone, it can be hard to have no sound but nature.  I’m sure that’s why noise-cancelling earphones were invented in the first place.

One of the challenges of modern life is that we often do not really want quiet.

Most people who use noise-cancelling earphones use that feature to keep out the sounds of the world around them so they can listen to the music or podcast or whatever they want, without distraction.

Rarely will people put on noise-cancelling earphones and not play something.

When we are so used to some sort of sound, whether the din of the city or the music of our choosing, sitting in silence can feel awkward, if not unnerving.

But for followers of Jesus, it can also be immensely rewarding.  It’s most often the way in which the Lord has room to speak to us.

I encourage you to try it: sit in silence for an hour, even half an hour.  If you can’t find a place where you can have silence, and you have noise-cancelling earphones, use them, but don’t play anything.

You might feel uncomfortable, because the first time you do it, it will be like a detoxification process.  But the second time, as you listen for God to speak, you might actually hear something in your heart.

Read the Scriptures while you sit in silence.  Choose a short passage, or even one verse, and sit with it.  You may be tempted to do all the talking with the Lord, but try sitting in silence.  It might be challenging, but perseverance will pay off.

Enjoy the sound of silence.

I wait quietly before God,
    for my victory comes from him.
 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62.1-2, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

The Sound of Silence

The sound of silence.

For some, it is a reference to Simon and Garfunkel.

For others, it is the noise made by the refrigerator or the HVAC system.

For some, it is deafening.

For others, it is the most beautiful sound on earth.

Whatever it may mean to us, the sound of silence is a gift, whether we acknowledge it or not.  For it is in silence that we are most clearly able to commune with God as friend to Friend, as servant to Master, as disciple to Lord.  Think about it:  when you are having an intentional conversation with a close friend, you’re probably not having to shout over a loud racket, right?  When it’s a serious conversation, there’s probably no discernible noise in the background.

So why not do this with the Lord?

At times, we may wonder why we don’t hear from God; it’s less likely that God is silent, and more likely that we are not making space to listen.

As you read the Bible, as you pray – whatever shape that takes – consider doing it accompanied by the sound of silence.  You may be surprised how much you hear.

For God alone my soul waits in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 62.5-6, NRSV).

Encouragement From The Word

Rest on your long weekend

Where I live, this weekend heralds the unofficial start of summer:  the Victoria Day long weekend.  The major north-south highway that is just a few kilometres from here will be plugged with vehicular traffic making its way to and from the cottages that populate the many lakes of what Ontario calls “Cottage Country”. People will be breaking out the shorts and the sandals, irrespective of the weather.  But opening up the cottage can be a fair bit of work.  There’s cleaning and raking and so many other little tasks that need to be done in order for enjoyment to take place.

Many people, though, will stay home, preferring to mark the long weekend with yard improvements and maintenance.  This is the time when nurseries and home renovation stores do a booming business.

Here’s a question to ponder:  how often does a long weekend, for you, include rest?  The idea behind statutory holidays is to give workers time off from their paid labour, to be sure; but whether or not we include time off from our unpaid labour is our own responsibility.

As human beings, we were created not for constant work, but for a cycle of work and rest.  When God made the world, he made it in six days, and rested on the seventh.  This is not so much a scientific statement as it is a theological statement:  the God of the universe, who is all-powerful, so believes in the value of rest that he himself took a day off.

So why wouldn’t you?

We live in a culture that values busyness.  But the church, we are reminded, is called to be counter-cultural.

By all means, enjoy your cottage, enjoy your back yard, enjoy whatever this weekend holds for you…but take one day off from things that mustbe done.   I recommend that day be Sunday, so you can worship God in community and share fellowship with others.  See you in church!

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him” (Psalm 62.1, NIV).