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Allowing Silence: a call to listen

30 May

Allowing Silence

A Call to Listen

We have a tradition in our home that, at dinner, our children get the chance to decide who is going to pray and say a word of thanksgiving for our family, friends, food and other blessings in our lives.  Recently, our three year old daughter has insisted on praying first in order to thank Jesus for dying for our sins.  It’s an adorable reminder that the rest of what we’re thankful for doesn’t mean a whole lot without the cross.  Funny how preschoolers can take such a matter-of-fact approach to the profound.

Tonight, during the week after Memorial Day, I grilled up the last of our hot dogs and sat down to enjoy some good ol’ fashioned American cuisine with our family gathered around the table.  Processed meat: check.  Watermelon: check.  Carrots and ranch dip: double check.

We each prayed tonight; first our daughter prayed parts of the “sinner’s prayer” for what amounts to be close to her 47th time, I followed by thanking God for our family and for our sons’s kindergarten teacher, my wife then thanked God for our meal and asked that God would help me finish the projects I have looming and, last, my son took his turn to pray.

silence.

silence.

more silence.

It was at this point that I broke one of the basic rules of prayers that we teach kids – I opened my eyes to see what was going on.  Well, actually, I only partially opened one eye – you know, because sometimes we act like opening our eyes during prayer makes our wishes not come true (not theologically sound, mind you, but totally how we act sometimes).  I noticed our son, sitting under the table, hands folded, eyes closed and sitting silently.  I closed my eyes, thankful that everything looked to be okay, and went back to respectfully sitting quietly as my son finished praying.

silence.

more silence.

I started to think about all of the things I needed to do after dinner:  The email I didn’t send today.  The email I sent but should have proofread better.  The files I needed to download before Sunday.  The car that needed to get washed.  The hot dog that was rapidly cooling back to its refrigerated state on my plate.

still silence.

“… amen.”

Our son, who just finished kindergarten this week, crawled back onto his seat and took a giant bite of now-only-slightly-warm hot dog.  I had just sat through what felt like one of the longest 5 minute stretches in my life and had to ask why.

“I needed to listen to see if God had anything to say,” he replied.  “He didn’t tonight, so I said ‘amen’.”

silence.

It was at that point that I looked over at my wife.  She smiled at me.  I held back a tear.  God might not have said anything to my son tonight, but I got the message loud and clear.

There are times in my life when I feel like I need to say something.  In general, I’m uncomfortable with the void that silence can create.  In no way would I consider myself wired to be an extrovert.  Quite frankly, people exhaust me sometimes.  But, I get uncomfortable if I could be producing something and I’m not.

Sitting in silence seems like the opposite of doing something.  So, more often than not, I say more words than I should.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

And so I sit here tonight, wondering if I can begin to listen for God’s voice in the way that my children naturally lift their ears towards the heavens.  I wonder what being still actually feels like and if, once I experience it, I’ll find myself changed by it.

silence.

Consider this a call to listen this week.  Carve out time to seek the stillness that comes in being silent.  And, in that stillness, ask to see if there is anything that God would like to tell you.  If nothing else, know that God is there in the silence.  Like a father, watching his child learn what it’s like to listen for his voice.

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1 Comment

Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Thoughts

 

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One response to “Allowing Silence: a call to listen

  1. Jenna Stitzel

    May 31, 2013 at 7:05 am

    So sweet, so true! LOVE it! Thank you for starting our Summer Vacation out right! Today being our last day of school, we have a summer jammed pack with “fun” things to do. BUT we will take time to be silent as well. :)

     

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