It usually strikes around 9:30 most summer nights when the darkened skies drive my kids and their friends indoors. The energy of the day unabated, they bluster into the kitchen wanting snacks to refill their coffers, depleted during the hours they have been working at their part-time jobs or enjoying summertime activities with friends.
The newest selection of songs is inevitably turned way up so the cadence can be heard over the hum of the microwave, the whir of the blender, an explosive Xbox game, or their enthusiastic chatter. I am certain from my roost upstairs the fun will never end!
Their vigor and defiance over leaving the day behind astounds me, as I seek something far simpler and dramatically different: a blessed silence to match the darkness that seems to wrap me up for a good night’s sleep.
When I was a teenager I promised myself I would never disregard the passionate causes of a teen when I became a parent. I would not grouse at the kids about their loud music and their deal making. I would be more understanding than most and aim never to value winning the argument more than acceptable self-expression, albeit different than my own. I’d ask God to help me respond with grace to the merriment and enthusiasm when I would rather be winding down.
I’d also ask God to help me abandon the need to be popular with my kids. Instead, I’d be consistent so they would learn to trust me as they matured.
For reasons I don’t understand, I have changed. I now have a tough time understanding song lyrics just like my parents did, and the music sometimes hurts my ears.
Is my hearing changing with age? Or, am I learning about the absolute beauty of silence?
In his book, “The Plain Man’s Book of Prayers,” William Barclay suggests that one of our greatest faults in prayer is that we talk too much and listen too little. “When prayer is at its highest,” he suggests, “we wait in silence for God’s voice to reach us; we linger in His presence for His peace and His power to flow over and around us.”
Do most people actually hear God’s voice? I have never personally heard God but I experience His “voice” when peace and deep joy rolls over me in waves. When original ideas suddenly come to me. When a flow of energy and hope restores my worried or heartsick soul.
Yet most of us are afraid of silence. We worry about feeling silly. We picture ourselves sitting down, closing our eyes, asking God for wisdom and comfort, then sitting there in dreaded silence, feeling disconnected and alone.
So let’s not sit and wait to hear from God. Instead, let’s get up early before the kids thunder toward their cereal bowls and cartoons. Take a walk. Water your fruit trees. Drink a cup of coffee as you check your garden.
In this silence, let’s listen for a new song. Seek His presence. Catch a new vision. Let’s emotionally fill up for all that may come our way this coming week.