If only God would give me some direction!
Funny how we recognize the virtues of silence in our own lives but when we mention God’s silence, it’s usually in the form of a complaint. We interpret God’s silence as his not caring, or his lack of power, or our not hearing. We wish the silence would go away and be replaced by some clear indication of what God wants us to do or explanation of why things are the way they are. But the silence seems to continue. It may well indeed be the primary way in which God relates to us. So what does God’s silence mean?
My own experience in dealing with people on their spiritual journeys is that silence and peace are often closely associated. People who are peaceful and grounded often make regular use of silence. People who struggle with chaos and confusion often find new peace when they take up a discipline which includes a practiced silence. Silence itself becomes a mentor as we move more deeply into it. Silence may not make anxieties and worries disappear but it allows something to be put alongside them which kindles hope of future redemption. When I am silent I have to enter an agreement with myself: whatever problem I may have will just have to wait a while as this time is devoted to something else. And over time, in repeated periods of silence, I come to know that somehow all will be made well. In a way we touch eternity in silence and sense that God is working his purpose out even in spite of our struggles. And we also touch the truth of the temporary: even the very worst thing I face will not last forever. Silence forces me to wait and waiting teaches me about God’s timing. As I wait, I come to understand that God is unthreatened by the things that cause me worry and fear.
Perhaps we can come to see that God’s silence is not his withholding from us but a means by which he expresses his constancy. In his silence he may be providing for us that which we truly need and desire, that which will lead us and teach us. We tend to fear the silence and wonder if it indicates that things are wrong in the relationship between us and God but the silence could be God’s gracious way of comforting us and assuring us of his love. If we can admire couples who can communicate wordlessly and move together in sync, can we not also come to trust the relationship that God has established with us and move with him? If we can experience a great connection with others on a silent retreat yet not even know each other’s name, can we not also allow God to connect with us without having to have him reveal every little detail to us? Silence is a way God lays his redemption of the world alongside whatever we are experiencing. It is his way of telling us that all things will eventually be made well, that even the things which occur beyond his specific will can be brought under his ultimate will.
God’s silence humbles us as it teaches us that we cannot have everything our way, that we are not in control. It also humbles us as it teaches us over time that God himself is in control. In life we experience great joy, great sadness, and silence allows us to experience God himself beneath it all.
Before the crucifixion, Jesus was silent before his accusers. While his son was on the cross, the Father himself was silent. There we find the great power of God being offered and received. The matter of redemption is so large as to be beyond words. God is not holding back. God is revealing himself to us and drawing us into his kingdom. Silence is his language of loving us and forming us for himself. For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation (Psalm 62).
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
Christian Education for All Ages Resumes September 8
Adult Classes September 8 – October 20
Living the Good News Bible Study
Led by Avis Gunter and Bob Canter, meeting in the Small Dining Room
Young Adult Class – for Twenties and Thirties
Led by Jimmy and Mallory Salter and Daniel Cenci, meeting in the Loft above the Kitchen
Liturgy and Good Livin’
Led by Candice Frazer, meeting in the Library
The Holy Grail in Legend and Literature
Led by Robert Wisnewski, meeting in the Children’s Chapel
Heavenly Host — Parish Covered Dish Supper
Tuesday, September 10, at 6:00 pm (NOTE THE EARLIER TIME)
At the Wisnewskis’ – 1904 S. Hull Street
Children are invited to our September Heavenly Host!
Pool Party — Bring towels and swimsuits
Bring a dish to share — Beverages provided