The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him! Habakkuk 2
While pumping gas recently, I watched a young man drive up and noticed he was wearing ear buds. I always thought you weren’t supposed to wear your ear buds in the car, at least not both of them. Seems that instead of listening to his music, the driver might need to hear the car horn of the person behind him! Just another instance of distracted driving maybe.
Anyway, this person got out and started pumping his gas into his car, ear buds intact. All the while, he swayed up and down, back and forth to his beats. The deed done, he hopped back into his car, and somewhere in his own world of music, he sped off.
I love music, and listen to all types of music. While I’m working in the office or outdoors, I’ll have music playing in the background. And I confess, I do have my own iPod and ear buds. But the brief encounter with Mr. Earbuds had me thinking about the way we we’ve become unaccustomed to silence.
Music, or radio chatter, or television confusion fills our environment, whether at home or in the car or at a store. More than any previous generation, we spend our days in a sea of sound. And what do we know of quietness, of silent waiting and prayerful expectation?
Thomas Kelley, in his book, The Sanctuary of the Soul, writes:
We need time of silent waiting, alone, when the busy intellect is not leaping from problem to problem, and from puzzle to puzzle. If we learn the secret of carrying a living silence in the center of our being we can listen (for God) on the run. The listening can become intertwined with our inner prayers.
Just exactly when are we silent before God? Is our prayer time not just a time to tell God things, but also to be in silence? We say we want to hear from God, but do we make time to sit and listen for God? When in worship do we fall silent before the majesty and goodness, and grace and power and mercy and mystery of God?
When the prophet Elijah stood alone on the mountain of the Lord, the Lord spoke to him, not in the great wind, nor in the earthquake that followed, nor in the fire that came either, but “in the sound of sheer silence.” (1 Kings 19)
At our staff meeting this week, we read a passage from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He wrote, “We are silent at the beginning of the day because God should have the first word, and we are silent before going to sleep because the last word also belongs to God.” Not bad advice, I’d say. Or maybe I shouldn’t say. Maybe I need to be silent now as well, and just listen. How about you?