A poster in a gift shop was a picture of a misty morning on a calm lake. In a little boat there is a father and son looking at two corks floating at the ends of their fishing lines. The sun was tipping his hat over the mountains in the distance. Three words beneath the picture appropriately released the message: Silence is Golden!
Silence can be golden, except we live in a noisy world (talk, laughter, crying, music, machinery, appliances, TVs, radios, phones, cars, trains). This noise weighs on our nervous system from morning till night, 365 days a year. Living in a world of noise, many of us have a difficult time with silence. Silence is different for each person; some are afraid of silence while others cherish it; some long for silence while others are scared of it; and some need silence while others must have noise.
Have you every desired silence: wanting to remove yourself from the sounds of the city; longing to get away from the TV and radio; wishing someone would stop talking? Silence removes words from the situation and makes the other senses come into greater play. As a kid, I can remember the two hour truck ride with my dad to his favorite fishing hole. Usually the ride had no talking or radio- just silence. And then we would fish without a word (those famous words- “you must be quiet when you fish, so you don’t scare the fish away”). However, there was something refreshing about being out in nature. And come to think about it, I learned a lot about life from my dad without him saying an abundance of words! You do not need sound for memories!
David wrote, “Be silent and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). "Be silent or still” indicates to cease striving, and is a rebuke to a hurried, restless, and turbulent world. David is saying, "Stop striving, quit racing around, and quit trying to control things, rather let God handle the situation. The psalmist might be implying that when you are caught up in the noise around you, you can miss seeing and knowing God. When you are silent you can hear the crickets of the night; you can enjoy the wind against your face; you can be awestruck by a sunset; you can ponder the expressions on another person’s face; you can reflect on a memory of a loved one; you can sing a song in your head. You can hear God.
There are times in our life when we need to be silent, so God can teach us. When the Israelites were leaving Egypt, Pharaoh rallied his forces and charged after them (Ex 14:5-9). Note what happened next, “And as Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, "Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? "Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness" (Ex 14:10-12). Now listen to Moses response, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent" (Ex 14:13, 14). Moses’ directive must have sounded anything but comforting in the face of the enemy. His words “stand by and be silent” are counterintuitive commands when the army is coming, or for us when the deadline is approaching, when the decision is pending, when the job is failing, or when the relationship is breaking. The natural human response is to do something and say something. Moses did not reprimand the people for their fear, but merely told them to not be afraid, stand firm, & be silent.
There are times in life when we need to do the opposite of what our intuition tells us, and be still and silent. We need to take Moses’ advice so that we can see things differently, regroup ourselves, and trust God. Indeed, the God who parted the Red Sea for His people is able to work mightily on behalf of His children. But sometime we have to be still and silent, so that we see God, His perspective, and His will. Yes, there are times that silence is golden!
-Pastor Mike Kotrla