When there is silence...
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16
I grew up in a faith tradition that taught, "Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we are silent."
As I think about my sermon for Sunday, and spending time reflecting on John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus who baptizes him, later is murdered for the sake of a birthday wish, and his head delivered on a silver platter, I suddenly realize how silent scripture becomes about John through these events. Because John is fully human, unlike Jesus who is fully God and fully human, I have to wonder what John's experience was like when he would pray to God? Did he sense God's presence, even as he sat in prison? Or did he find himself, like Jesus, on a hillside, praying for "this cup," to pass from him, and sense God's silence?
I must admit, I fall into the category on more than one occasion where I have sensed God's silence when offering up prayer. I think if we are all honest about our faith journey, we all can point to significant milestones, the prayers being offered, and how we felt when there seemed to simply be silence.
Learning to live within this silence can sometimes lead to anxiety, but I believe that it is actually beneficial. If faith is believing in the things that we cannot see, then silence is believing that God is still listening and cares.
Silence is also something that leads us into solitude. We offer the peace of Christ each week during worship to one another. Peace, solitude and silence are actually essential for us in our relationship with God. One of the most powerful moments of a symphonic piece is when a rest appears and we are left with silence between the notes.
Living through the silence is so very hard for us, when we live in a world that is full of eight-second sound bytes and noise. Learning to live in the silence teaches us to listen in different ways. To the needs of our spirit, the hopes that lie within our heart, and how we live in relationship with God.
And when silence does overwhelm us, remember God is still listening.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
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Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.