March 14, 2012
Enjoy the Silences
I remember attending my daughters’ piano recitals when they were in elementary school and listening to the songs of the budding musicians. The tendency of every young pianist is to rush the song. The underlying assumption is that faster is better, and in their haste, they plow through slow or meditative portions of a song, failing to give full value to the rests.
As the young students grow older, they learn not to just read the notes but to hear the music. They come to see that the rests and held notes in the music are every bit as essential to its beauty as the song's progression. What would Schumann's "Traumerei" or a Chopin nocturne be without their pathos-laden pauses?
You may have noticed that God is not one to rush things. He isn't compelled to fill the silence for the sake of moving things along. Between the Old and New Testament, there were roughly four hundred years during which the people of Israel were without prophecy or revelation. Yet this silence, uncomfortable as it must have been for those believers who lived and died under it, only accentuated the crescendo when the Word became flesh.
Perhaps you are going through a period when it seems as though God has grown silent in your life. Silence tries the soul. Try as we might, we cannot explicate it, and the noise of nothing threatens to drown out faith. But consider for a moment that such a noticeable silence actually testifies that God has not always been silent. The fact that we can recognize an absence in fact bears witness that there has been a Presence.
I don't know anyone who would claim that the rests are their favorite portions of a song. But those silent beats are necessary to accentuate the other notes and allow the music to tell its story. So also in our lives, I believe that we will one day be able to see the value of the silences that have given shape to our stories. We can take comfort that silence is hemmed on either side by a song.
Throughout the scriptures, prophets repeatedly cry out, "He who has an ear, let him hear!" We need to learn to listen in the silences as well as in the climaxes, for the silence itself may be what God wants us to hear. The silence will not last forever, and it will make the sound that follows even more glorious.
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