Have you ever found yourself listening to something — maybe you've heard it many times before — and noticing something entirely new and unexpected? I had that experience on a recent Sunday. We were singing Hymn of Promise, written by Natalie Sleeth, which many people know by its first line: "In the bulb there is a flower". I can't even guess how many times I've sung that hymn, or heard it sung by others. I know the words almost by heart. And yet, on this particular Sunday, I was taken by surprise.
The second verse of the hymn begins, "There's a song in every silence". As soon as we sang that line, I was struck! I was reminded of the Bible story in which Elijah is told to expect to see God, and he finally finds the Lord, not in calamity or noise, but in silence:
1 Kings 19:11-12 – He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. (NRSV)
Isn't that amazing? That God, Who could speak with us in any other way, chose to speak to Elijah through silence. Other translations refer to it as "a still small voice" or "a gentle whisper". That's another surprise, that the all-powerful and mighty God would choose to speak through a still, small voice. No wonder we need to be quiet in order to hear!
Ours is a busy, noisy world, full of earthquakes, wind, and fire. Our job is not to let the noise distract us, but to look over, under, around, and through the noise, until we can find a place of peace and quiet — a place of silence. It is in that silence that we have an opportunity to hear the voice of God, that gentle whisper, speaking and singing into our hearts.
Prayer: Loving God, thank You for being a part of our lives. Thank You for Your gentle voice that guides us, lifts us, and nurtures us. We pray that we would be ever more mindful of that voice, more open to Your nudging and prompting, and more accepting of Your words for us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Like A River Glorious" (Lyrics)