Posted in Living this Life

Friend of Silence

I stood there stunned as I looked at my 8 year old with tears streaming down his face. We thought this would be fun – a fun reward for the many days they had spent on the road with us doing work stuff.

We had a couple hours free in the middle of a whirlwind trip recently, so we asked the kids what they wanted to do. The consensus was to find an arcade somewhere and have some fun.

arcade-300x225

And we did. We found the biggest, best arcade we could find. Not only was this arcade bigger and better than many we had been to, it was much, much louder. Like walking into a physical wall of noise. We had a lot of fun, yelled over the chaos as the kids engaged in a Rampage battle and my ‘80’s loving husband impressed us all with his Galaga skills. I leaned over and asked Joshua what he wanted to do next – well, I yelled at him “WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO NEXT?” And he responded by slapping his hands over his ears and bursting into tears.

We quickly found a quiet place to talk. He said “everyone keeps yelling and it’s so loud it hurts!”

I feel your pain, little man. Have you watched the news lately? Or tapped into any form of social media? It seems like everyone has something to say and no-one is listening anymore. So we all just seem to move faster and yell louder…

Caution_High_Noise_Area-1

hurry

Joshua said to me through his tears that day, “can’t you just talk quieter?” So I decided to try. As we went back into the arcade, in the middle of the ear-splitting din, I leaned in and whispered to him. I found that if I whispered right into his ear, he could hear me despite the noise, and I wouldn’t have to yell anymore.

And as a result, I discovered some beautiful things. He could hear me – and it didn’t hurt. My spirit quieted as I whispered through the chaos. And we had to draw close to each other to communicate.

How do you handle the noise? There are definitely days I want to slap my hands over my ears and find a quiet corner to cry in. But by that time, I usually have to make dinner or take a kid to some sports practice, so I kind of shove the feelings in and keep moving.

But what if we just stop? Stop yelling, and try whispering? Draw close to each other so we can hear the whispers from the hearts of those around us? Maybe even hear the whisper of our own hearts? We look for big, mighty things from God, and often get swept away in the wind, earthquake and fire that come before the still small voice of Jehovah. We shout over the wind, try to be the earth shakers, and pray for fire to burn up the evil, but God is not in those things.

“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-13

Did you hear that? Elijah wrapped his face in his mantle at the still, small voice of Almighty God. In this world of sound bytes and Instagram likes, might the truest power lie in truth spoken gently from the Maker of our souls?

“I think there is nothing so startling in all the graces of God as His quietness. When men have raged untruths in His Name, when they have used the assumed authority of the Son of God to put to death His real children, when they have with calloused heart twisted the Scriptures into fables and lies… when they, using powers He grants them, claim universal autonomy and independence, He, this great silent God, says nothing! His tolerance and love for His creatures is such that, having spoken in Christ, in conscience, in code of law, He waits for men to leave off their bawling and turn for a moment to listen to His still, small voice of the Spirit.” – Jim Elliot

What a beautiful wonder those words awaken in my heart! What common sense goodness.

Do you find your heart reeling from the din of voices clamoring to be heard? Do you find your soul growing numb from the chaos that swirls around you?

Maybe rather than pushing away or trying to yell louder, we could try whispering back. Draw near, listen closely – not only to the words, but to the hearts, of those around us. Especially those we disagree with. Hear the fear that makes voices rise to a screech. Listen to the pain that causes those we share this planet with to build walls around their hearts. Draw close, and whisper gentle truth. You will find your own heart softening in the process. You may not agree, but you might understand. When you understand, you will learn to love the heart of the person, and maybe in that quiet place, Jesus will be heard.

Maybe we all just need to whisper a little more?

“We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence … we need silence to be able to touch souls” -Mother Teresa

 

 

Posted in Living this Life

Kisses for Jesus

I hesitate to even write this, sitting here in the middle of December, my mind spinning with everything I have to do. Let’s be honest – which of us has the time to even read one more thing? These are the days when our calendars are full, our to do list is full, but somehow it feels like our hearts can be a bit hollow. I saw a friend last night for a brief 3 minutes, and as she was telling me about all the activities she is involved in, she said, “why are we even doing all this?”

My mind flew back 10 years. To when my sweet girl was just one – truly celebrating her first Christmas. And this: charissa kissing Jesus

She loved her Nativity. She wouldn’t go to bed until she had kissed Jesus goodnight. Every  single night. I put a few different Nativities throughout the house every year, and that year, I found myself re-arranging them often. Until I figured out what was going on. They were getting arranged Charissa’s way. With everyone’s backs to the room, all the wise men and shepherds in a clump – you couldn’t really see the Nativity. Then I looked closer, and realized that they were as they really should be – all gathered tight around the manger and baby Jesus.

At the age of one, she got what most of us miss.

 

We are those people who pull out our Christmas decorations the day after Halloween. Christmas music is on, candles are burning, I have 3 Christmas trees (one has a Muppet as a tree topper, so I’m not sure that counts), and all the necessary blow up figures on my lawn. We love to celebrate this time of year – for the fun and the family,  especially for the opportunity it gives us to pull back and really celebrate Jesus. The tragedy of it all is that somewhere amidst the wrapping paper and the noise, Jesus gets a little lost.

And so I buy more devotionals. We do our Jesse tree with the kids every night. I even make sure to eat a piece of chocolate from my chocolate Advent calendar every day (or two or three, depending on how the day goes…)! I study the meanings of what happened when Jesus was born, I read commentaries – I dig because I want to know more, to understand more.

But this year, Jesus keeps whispering to my heart – “just come away and be with me

There is great value to understanding. I’m not encouraging setting the books aside – God often speaks to me through greater knowledge. But have we lost those quiet moments where we just worship? Just sit in silence and listen for His still small voice?

 

 

 

My sweet Charissa lived a parable for me years ago that will never leave me. I love all the joys and festivities of this season, but as we celebrate, as we wrap gifts and listen to Christmas music, and even while we’re doing our last minute shopping, let us breathe a little deeper, move a little slower. As we sit in traffic – again – let us lift our eyes from the red lights in front of us and let the glory of God all around us sink in. Listen for the song of a bird, look for the rainbow glint of sun off the snow. And tonight, for just a few minutes, try turning off the tv and the bright lights overhead and let the gentle glow of the Christmas tree warm your heart. May we all be a little more like the wise men in Charissa’s Nativity – less worried about what’s “out there” and more turned in, hearts in a beautiful clump around Jesus.

Oh come, let us adore Him!