DayBreaks for 3/29/16 – The Language of God
From the DayBreaks archives:
(By Doug Dalrymple) – In the RSV translation of this psalm, we hear the same phrase repeated in v1 and v5: For God alone my soul waits in silence Later, in v8, we’re told, “…pour out your heart before Him.”
We’re tempted to imagine that these two are mutually exclusive: “waiting in silence” and “pouring out our hearts.” But in our life before God, I think there is a sense in which each of these is necessary for the other to be effective. Without a spirit of silence before God it is difficult to pour out our hearts to Him; and we can only truly pour out the contents of our hearts to Him if we nurture a spirit of silence.
Someone once said, “The language of God is silence. Everything else is a bad translation.” For us, silence is one of the most difficult things in the world. On the one hand, we desire silence, stillness, rest. But at the same time we can’t stand it and always feel as though we need to fill up the silence with something, almost any kind of noise, whether in our thoughts or through constant speaking or through some outward means of distraction like television or reading. Even when we force ourselves to sit still in a quiet room and shut our mouths, our minds fight against real silence. I know mine does.
But in the context of our life in Christ, silence is about more than simply being quiet. It is about real prayer, about listening, about expectation, about being fully present, in communion with the God who in His grace calls us into communion with Himself. I think of psalm 46: “Be still and know that I am God.” I think of the verse from psalm 131: “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast.” I think of the example of Mary the sister of Lazarus who “chose the good portion” and sat in silence at Christ’s feet while Martha served distractedly. I think of the image of St. John with his head on Christ’s breast at the last supper, listening to the all-encompassing heartbeat of the incarnate God.
When we wait in silence on God, not only do we open ourselves to hear God, but our heart can begin to pour itself out to Him without need of words. Words, in fact, often get in the way. There is a place for words in prayer, of course. But too often we concern ourselves overly much with finding the right words for prayer and fitting our heart’s contents into prefabricated verbal boxes. Too often we lie to ourselves in our words, in what we say and think of ourselves, of others, and of God. But practicing silence before God fosters humility of heart, and a humbled heart speaks for itself. Beyond words, in silence, as St. Paul writes, the Holy Spirit prays for us on our behalf.
Habakkuk 2:20 (NIV) – But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.
TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, teach us to speak and understand Your language. Help us to come to You with hearts prepared to listen and learn. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.