The loudest sound that we will ever hear is actually not a sound at all, but instead the absence of sound.
Ask an expectant mother as she lay on her back for her first ultrasound. Silence is deafening.
Ask a patient as he waits to hear about his recent test results. Silence is deafening.
Ask an unemployed person as they wait anxiously to hear back from employers. Silence is deafening.
For it to offer no sound at all, silence is the loudest sound that we will ever hear… because our thoughts fill in the absence, consuming our minds and hearts, from the inside out.
One of the first oxymorons that I learned in high school was “thunderous silence.” I do not remember the context in which the teacher presented the phrase, but I remember thinking, “wow; that must be some loud silence!” And here I sit, 20 years later, deafened by the loudness of silence from someone that I love.
As the silence fills the air, my mind fills in the void of their words with words of its own:
It was never real…
You imagined it all…
You created these scenes within your mind…
I can’t tell fact from fiction and the memory of this love fades away slowly. As this thunderous silence roars between us, my mind races, anxiously and desperately, to hold onto whatever traces of my love that it can find.
When the noise became too much to bear, I reached out for prayer and guidance. It was then that I was reminded of the power of silence. Close your eyes and travel with me…
Before any big battle that ever was, there was a moment of silent preparation.
Before every sporting event, there is a moment of calm silence that covers the players.
And before every major shift in the Bible, there is a period of silence.
To God, silence is not considered a bad thing. Silence is a time of preparation for His greatest work that He has planned for our lives. As I think on silence, my heart recalls the following:
- Moses, during his 40 years in Midian before returning to Egypt to set the Israelites free.
- King David, as he was appointed king in his teen years and returned to being a shepherd before eventually ascending to the throne.
- The four-hundred years of silence in between the Old and the New Testaments in the Bible.
- Jesus, during His 40 days in the wilderness after His baptism but before the start of His earthly ministry.
- Jesus (again), the night that He was betrayed when He went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.
You see, prior to this silence that I’m currently experiencing, I could not see that what appears to me as silence is actually God’s wondrous working time. When I accepted the call to ministry, my pastors warned me that I would experience a wilderness season. They said that this would be a quiet time when God would isolate me in order to work on me. Foolishly, I thought that this season would only happen the one time in my life… but I see now that it can happen as often as needed.
Right now God has placed me in another wilderness or “Silence Season” so that He can prepare me for what’s next. But to be honest? Not knowing what’s next is slowly killing me!
My first word as a baby was FISH because my uncle had this huge fish tank in his home. However, as my vocabulary and my mind expanded, my favorite word became, “Why.” I always wanted to know why things were happening the way they were and why things changed. If an adult said something to me, my only response was simply, “why?” because I just needed to understand everything. And at one month shy of 34 years old, I can tell you with certainty that ain’t nothing changed! I still desire to know why things happen the way they do and why my life is the way it is. What I failed to realize then as a child and even now as an adult is that no one- least of all God- owes me an explanation.
God is my Abba Father, my Lord and Savior, my Creator and Sustainer- He owes me ZERO explanations or run-downs of my life. If His own Son, Christ Jesus, could sit on the brink of certain death and utter the words in Luke 22:42, then surely I can trust God’s plan for my life (and you can trust His plans for your life, too, Beloved!).
As I think about this love of mine, the silence that I hear is not the absence of my God; it is in fact the very presence of His grace. In this silence from the world, God is sweetly speaking to my heart and continuing the work that He began in my life before I was even born. God, in His Sovereignty, has removed all distractions and lowercase g-gods that I have placed before Him so that He alone can have my attention and love. He doesn’t do this to be controlling or selfish, but instead He does this because if I learn of Him and how He loves, I can in turn learn how to love others. God is love. I cannot separate God from Who He is. In order for me to learn how to do or be anything to or for anyone else, I must first learn those things in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit within me must guide me through this often lonely yet wholly healing period that God has for me. In this season, I will not fear; I will surrender and trust my God as I listen to, learn from, and love in this thunderous silence.