For the last couple of weeks every time I sat down to write I found myself presented with an invitation to silence. To lay down the busy thoughts, the mom-engine, the never ending list in my head. To lay it all down for a time of silence in the presence of the LORD.
Usually it seems like silence is the enemy. An empty, faceless enemy that threatens to swallow us up into our own vulnerabilities lying just beneath the surface. It is so easy to keep silence at bay with our many devices that hold endless supply of music, news, social media, and the like. We are able to spend years in an unending stream of visual and aural noise, leaving all our vulnerability unexamined and tucked away like unwanted mail.
Silence isn’t empty when it’s in the presence of Jesus, nor threatening. The silence may be uncomfortable, but the threatening edge is softened by His grace. The presence of Jesus fills the silence we allow Him like it fills the throne room of heaven. Our field of vision expands until we can see Him in every part of our lives, in every memory and every dream.
I actually love the middle of the night because it is the only time my house is quiet and I am able to find this blessed silence. Sometimes I talk to God, sometimes I don’t. Either way I find a balm for my daily weariness within the silence.
It was unusual to find it during the day. In fact it took me several days to recognize it. The blessed silence in daylight goes deeper than ears and senses. It is in the heart and the depths of the soul. Once I did indeed recognize that blessed silence and embrace it during the day I was able to experience the blessing mingled into the whirl of the day, no longer sequestered to the lonely night.
This idea of quiet is all throughout the historical books and the prophets of the Old Testament. Often quiet is paired with rest. For example, in Isaiah 14 there is a description of the fall of Babylon and the end of its oppressive reign. When it is finished and Babylon is brought down it says, “The whole earth is at rest and quiet; they break forth into singing.” (Is. 14:7 NKJV) It goes onto describe everyone’s joy, the joy of the land, and the joy of hell for receiving such a wicked place. Admittedly a bit grim near the end there, but I think the point is made that peace and redemption carry quiet and rest in their wake.
Another description of the redemption of Israel is found in Zephaniah, “In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zeph. 3:16-17 NKJV emphasis added) The rest of the chapter talks about how God is going to gather His people back to Him, deal with their oppressors, and restore their reputation.
When the people of God are once again His people, living in holiness in His midst, the people regain their identity. With that restoration, that realignment, they are able to find the peace they lost when they gave their hearts over to idolatry. In His presence quiet can be found, and in the quiet there is rest.
The same is true for me. I can give my heart over to the idol of noise and pretend its rest. Or, I can submit myself to His presence, give my heart to Him. In return, He will give me His peace, His quiet. In other words, I will find the rest that can only be found in the blessed silence of His presence.