DayBreaks for 11/14/13 – The Sounds of Silence

DayBreaks for 11/14/13 – The Sounds of Silence

From the DayBreaks archive dated 11/21/2003:

If you are like me, growing up in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, you lived through a period of musical giants.  The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, the Monkees.  Oh, yes, and let us not forget Simon and Garfunkel.  There were few who burned as brightly on the popular music scene as those two.

On 11/6/2003, I had the wonderful experience of going to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Old Friends” concert in Oakland, California.  I felt like I was seeing and listening to old friends again – even though I’d never seen them in person before.  Their words and music were as familiar as a conversation with an old friend…and as comfortable.  As I sat and listened to them play and sing one monster song after another, I found myself being transported back to the feelings I had as a young man when I heard those songs for the first few times.  I felt young again.  I felt full of hope and excitement and enthusiasm about life – the way we probably all did when we were young and naïve.  Strange how time changes us…

The words of some of the old songs struck me: “Hello, darkness my old friend, I’ve come to speak with you again…”, “…and the people bowed and prayed, to the neon god they’d made, and the sign flashed out its warning, in the words that it was forming, and the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains, within the sounds of silence.”  Silence can be a symptom of peace…or a sign of despair.  I don’t think it was peace that Simon and Garfunkel were singing about when they wrote that song.  This is a song about empty hollowness.  Perhaps that is why it spoke so powerfully to the culture of that period in our history.

Equally powerful was “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.  I hadn’t ever really thought about how so much of that song could be descriptive of the way Christ deals with us – the way he shadows us through our lives and helps us when we need it.  “When you’re weary, feelin’ small, when tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all…”.  And when friends can’t be found, the singer of the song promises us that he’ll be right there, like a bridge over troubled water to ease our passage.  Scripture reminds us that God Himself will wipe every tear from our eye.  What tremendous parallels to Christianity!  Though all our friends may abandon us, Christ won’t.  When we reach the troubled waters of life (and they come frequently), we need a bridge to carry us over, to bear us up and put us safely on the other side.

Jesus, my friend, is that bridge.  He is the only one who can bridge the chasm that our sin has created and which separates us from God.  Again, I don’t believe that Simon and Garfunkel had any intention of carrying the message of the gospel in some of the words to their songs, but isn’t it amazing how God works?  How after these many years, He can give us new insights and helps us to understand where real hope and excitement come from?

It was a great concert, but not as great as the one we will someday participate in as singers ourselves.  The only sounds of silence then will be of holy reverence and awe for our Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Psalm 46:1 (NIV)  – “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Isaiah 43:2 (MsgB)  – “When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.  When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.”

Habakkuk 2:20 (MsgB)  – “But oh! God is in his holy Temple!  Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!”

PRAYER: Thank You, Jesus, for being our oldest and best friend, for bridging the troubled world of sin to deliver us into heavenly glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 06/28/13 – The Sound of Falling Snow

DayBreaks for 06/28/13 – The Sound of Falling Snow

snowflakes falling in the woods1 Kings 19:11-12 (NLT) – “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”

When Elijah finally made it to the mountain of the Lord (Horeb, or Sinai) on his flight from Jezebel, God wants to speak with him, so He invites him to go stand outside of the cave where he’s been in hiding.  A mighty windstorm, so severe that rocks were torn loose (“shattered” in other translations), swept the mountain.  Now I’ve heard windstorms before, having lived in Florida where there are hurricanes, but I’ve never seen nor heard a wind so strong that it shattered rocks and tossed them about like paper!  But that might have been what I would have expected of the Lord if he were to speak with me.  But God wasn’t in the wind.

An earthquake followed the wind.  Again, living in California, I’ve experienced a lot of earthquakes.  I went to Haiti after that horrible earthquake and seen their power first hand.  But God wasn’t in the might and strength of the earthquake, either.

A fire follows – but still no God.

Finally, there is the “…sound of a gentle whisper.”  In the original languages, the word used for “a gentle whisper” is the word for the sound of falling snow.  I lived in Maine and some of the most profound moments of my life occurred there when I went out onto the front porch during a snowfall in the woods and just listened.  It was so very, very silent. 

When I learned about the meaning of the original words here for “gentle whisper”, I was almost swept of my feet with the realization that when I ask God for some word of direction or guidance, I may need to be very, very quiet otherwise I won’t hear Him.  Often, however, when I am desperate enough to seek His direction and a word from Him, my soul and mind and heart are racing and raging and my inner person is filled with noise.  How can I expect to hear a gentle whisper?  Doesn’t Scripture tell us to “Be still and know that I am God”?  Aren’t we told that “The Lord is in His holy temple.  Let all the earth keep silence before Him”? 

I need to learn the discipline of silence.  God could have been in the wind, the earthquake and/or the fire.  But in this instance at least, He wasn’t.  He was in the gentle whisper that one can only hear when we are listening that closely and have quieted our souls.  God is not an obtrusive, bully that makes us hear Him.  He invites us to hear Him, but we have to listen very closely.  Why doesn’t He give us loud words?  It might kill us.  He is gentle, He is loving, He is longing for us to hear Him!

PRAYER:  God, I want to hear Your voice and receive Your direction.  Be still, oh my soul, that I can hear His gentle whisper.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 03/13/12 – Because We Do Not Speak

DayBreaks for 03/13/12 – Because We Do Not Speak

What happens if we stay silent?

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. – Ephesians 6:19-20

In the context of Ephesians, Paul is in prison for the faith and his refusal to be silent and to stop preaching the word and sharing the mind of God.  Thus, he is led to ask the faithful to pray for him and for the courage to fearlessly speak the word.

Try to put yourself in Paul’s place: if you were already in prison for preaching the gospel, would you be looking for chances to keep on speaking, or would you be silent as you heard people being led to their beheading on a daily basis?  Perhaps Paul even had the struggle going on inside of himself, leading to this prayer, and the use of the word “fearlessly” twice in the two verses quoted above.

There is much frustration and anger in our country today about all sorts of things.  Much of the frustration involves so-called “social issues.”  I find that term interesting, because it is used as a way of saying “This isn’t a moral or ethical issue, it is a social issue.”  I don’t find such distinctions to be Biblical.  To the Jewish mind frame, everything was spiritual.  In the OT, fathers were encouraged to teach their children when they were walking, sitting, sleeping…at all times.  Why?  Because everything in life has spiritual, moral and ethical reality connected to it.  And our culture has made “tolerance” perhaps the highest virtue…again, not a Biblical perspective.

We, as believers, speak a lot about love and somehow, we’ve connected the concept of loving someone with the idea of tolerance…that we won’t speak out when something is wrong.  Why?  Because we’ve become convinced it is the loving thing to do to keep our mouths shut.  Not so.

“Anger is not the opposite of love; often it is love’s clearest expression. How can we love people and stand by while they are wounded and exploited by selfish (people)…One of the most lamentable weaknesses of our generation lies in the lukewarmness of its love–the feebleness of its protests growing out of its lukewarmness. Monstrous evils thrive right under our noses, become entrenched in politics and custom, grow brazenly insolent to every plea for decency and justice because we who are Christians do not speak.” – J. Wallace Hamilton, Ride The Wild Horses!, Westwood: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1952, p. 121.

Do you love the people in your life who surround you at work, at home, in your play?  Then truly love them.  Speak the truth in love.  You can truly love if you don’t love enough to speak the truth.

PRAYER: Fill our hearts with love enough to lovingly speak the truth into a culture that may not care to hear.  And we invite You to speak the truth into our own hearts and minds, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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