Fear of Silence

Fear of Silence

Everywhere they can be seen, heads bobbing, shoulders pointing, toes tapping, fingers drumming. They come in all sizes, shapes and styles. Male or female, young or old, they can be found almost anywhere, jogging in the park, sitting in the airport, on the way to school, or just gazing out there-somewhere. They have one thing in common, those little earphones, attached by an umbilical wire to a miniature tape recorder fastened to a belt or tucked in a pocket.

Their musical interest may vary from Brahms to the most raucous beat of hammering Rock. Of course there are spiritual songs and even the beauty of the spoken Scriptures to be heard by this device, so it can’t be all bad-can it?

Well, one has to wonder whatever happened to silence? Are we afraid of it? Don’t we know what to do in the silence? Think? Remember? Meditate? These can be troublesome exercises for some. So, “click,” on goes the music, up goes the volume, and the product of other minds and voices pour into the lifelong memory banks of the brain. But is silence really silent?

I knew a brother who would take his grandchildren into the woods, sit them on a stump and tell them to “listen to the silence.” He’d ask them what they heard. Their first answer was “Nothing.” But soon they began to pick up a gentle symphony of seldom-noticed sounds. The crackling of twigs, the ruffling of the breeze through the leaves, the buzz of a passing insect, even the beating of their own hearts. So even in the “silence” we can learn that there is a sound to stillness.

Elijah discovered this. He had won a victory at Carmel and the fire from heaven testified who was the true God and who was His servant. Then there was Jezebel, who threatened the prophet with death on the morrow. The record states, “When he saw that, he arose and went for his life.”

The Lord met him at Horeb and called him to stand on the mount. Then came the great wind, an earthquake, and a burning fire. But the Lord was not in these. Then we read “after the fire a still small voice” or, “the sound of a gentle stillness.”

God had worked by fire at Carmel, but in spite of this, there was still no revival in Israel. “When he saw that…” (not heard that-for Elijah wasn’t afraid of wicked Jezebel; he was discouraged at the lack of response to God) he fled “for his life.” Not to save his life in fear, but lay it down as finished, useless and hopeless in despair. Then the Lord taught him that in spite of the fact that nothing appears to be happening, God was there in the “sound of a gentle stillness.”

So it seems, for some well-intentioned but mistaken believers today, that if there is no “activity,” no “excitement,” no outward display, they think God is not at work and all is at a standstill. Instead of the quietness of faith that can listen to the “still small voice,” up jumps the agitated flesh that endeavors by novel programs, new methods, and worldly presentations, to produce an artificial earthquake, a bombastic wind, and a strange fire to get the attention of the people and make it appear that God is at work.

God is indeed at work but quietly, in the individual lives of the saints. He is at work in the silent tear of the sorrowing, the quiet handshake of a restored brother, the sigh of the longing soul, the prayers of intercessor, the burning of the midnight oil to discover the gold of God in His Word, and especially in the hidden growth of strengthened spirits that silently root ever deeper into the love of Christ.

Dear weary servant, because God is not shaking and burning and blasting, it does not mean He is not at work. His mightiest works have been done in the silence. Behold Calvary’s three dark hours. If your work is not growing as you think it should, and you have done your part faithfully, it may be the time of the quiet work of God out of sight, rooting and grounding the saints in love.

Resist the temptation to follow those who crave for crowds, talk “excitement,” organize big affairs, advertise, magnetize, socialize. Don’t be afraid of the silent times.

Speak, Lord, in the stillness, While I wait on thee;
Hushed my heart to listen
In expectancy. – E. May Grimes

Editor’s Note: J. Boyd Nicholson was the second editor of Counsel Magazine until the year 2000 when he was called to be with the Lord.


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