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Sunday, 28 August 2011

The beauty of silence!

The Old Testament book of the prophet Habakkuk is one that holds a couple of real gems.  In 3:17-19, the prophet comes to the end of a prayer, and paints a picture of what would have been, in an agrarian society, total economic devastation: “Though the fig tree do not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,” (v.17).  But he goes on: “... yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.   God, YHWH, is my strength;  He makes my feet like hinds' feet, He makes me tread upon my high places.” (vs. 18-19).  No matter how uncertain the times, Habakkuk knew where to look for his certainty!  Today, however, I have been repeatedly reminded of the words of Hab.2:20 - "... the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him."

In our western culture, we seem to be constantly surrounded by noise.  If I enter a shop, I am invariably assaulted by a flood of canned 'music'.  As I walk along the pavement, on a day when it is warm, the open windows of many cars are a conduit for the vibration of heavy bass beats.  Even when endeavouring to watch a television programme, I find that the dialogue is often drowned by the 'background' music.  Indeed, at some church services, where there is a modern Praise Band, the drummer can often come across as more demented than delivered!

In contrast to such unnecessary noise, the Psalmist-king of Israel knew something of the benefit of silence.  David exhorts, in Ps.62 - "My soul, wait silently for God alone, ..." (v.5)  It is often in the quiet place, away from the clamour of the world, that we are able to hear the Lord speak to our hearts.  In the stillness of the night; in a peaceful sanctuary; in a quiet room at home; we may meet with Him, and hear His words to us.

Emily May Grimes wrote those lovely words that I have often used as a prayer before preaching - "Speak, Lord, in the stillness while I wait on Thee.  Hushed my heart, to listen in expectancy".  Perhaps more of us need to make those words a personal prayer!

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