be quiet

Be quiet.

The gray, white, and brown of the landscape makes me think the winter artist paid a visit to Chip and Joanna at the Silos and gained inspiration from the color scheme they have made famous. The spaces of silence are broken periodically by the red cardinal pecking at the window for his daily “hello” or the sound of a piece of ice breaking off the roof and falling to the deck. I am alone–a rarity for me. I live in a busy, bustling, noisy house with people running in and out and never knowing who will knock on the door. That is a blessing. People are a blessing and a gift and I am thankful for them. But on this gray and white and brown day with snow falling, the people are all in other towns and other places and the massive sound of silence startles me and causes me to stop. Sit down. Pick up the journal and the pen, but don’t write just yet. Listen.

Be quiet.

We are coming up on a year now since the powers that be mandated that we all just stop and go home because sickness had invaded the world. We travel for a living. Like all the time. Like 8 days out of 10, sleeping in another bed in another city or another country and almost always another time zone. And the mandate said, “Go home. Stay there.” So, we did. All of a sudden, it was back to cooking our own food if we wanted to eat. It was worshipping with our own family if we experienced worship. It was playing board games if we wanted entertainment. The kitchen cabinets did experience a transformation from brown to black and so did a few doors and some new pictures appeared on the walls and the pile of curtains in the corners assumed their places over the windows. But after the projects were done and we felt rested and had frozen meals to last for weeks, “normal” did not return and it was “now what?”

One morning, I was alone in my room while the rest of the house buzzed and hummed and I sat with His Word and my journal and wrote the question, “Lord, I have never been in this place before. What do you want out of me in this season?” I raised my pen, ready to write the answer. Almost immediately, it came: “Study to be quiet.”

Be quiet.

Okay, Lord. I hear You. I wrote it down. I knew it was from the New Testament, but didn’t know where, so I looked it up. And it said, “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). I wonder why the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write that? Was Thessalonica in the middle of a pandemic and people didn’t know how to handle it? Probably not, but it still makes me wonder why.

I have been to the modern city of Thessaloniki and have wandered down in the areas in which Paul probably walked. I have seen the bustling seaport and the old stone tower in which prisoners were thrown for whatever offenses they had committed. The ancient city center was a bustling arena of humanity and probably hasn’t changed much through the centuries since that verse was written. To be honest, on my visit there I didn’t feel so very different as I feel going around in my own town and living my daily life. Lots of market stalls, cafes and restaurants, transportation options, people being people. Separated by centuries, but not separated at all by spirits and by need for love and by grasping for significance and the driving desire to be recognized as having worth.

Be quiet.

Paul told them to study to be quiet. Being quiet doesn’t come naturally. Even the most soft-spoken among us has a need to be heard and to make our voice known. So, if we are going to have to be quiet, we must study how to do it.

The only textbook I know which can teach that is the Word of God. I don’t think we will learn how to be quiet on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. I don’t think being quiet is part of the curriculum as we text all the live long day to whomever, wherever, whatever we feel we need to say. It takes effort to be quiet in this radical, noisy world. It takes effort to be quiet when everybody around us is losing their head and becoming a different personality like a chameleon every other minute.

Be quiet.

I have no doubt that was the Voice of God to me that morning. And as we navigate through these stormy, blinding waters of these strange days, is it perhaps the Voice of God to you? Lord, how do I manage this new life? How do I homeschool the kids as I do my job from the office in the closet? How do I teach the Bible stories as we sit in the living room instead of on the church pew? How do I be the leader in ministry I’m supposed to be when the rules are changing every other day? How do I do this? How do I do that?

Be quiet.

Find a place of solitude for 15 minutes and take a pen, your journal, and your Bible. Write down the “How do I…” questions. Then, be quiet. Listen. He will answer you.

Be quiet.

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