We live in a world of noise. The noise comes from so many directions: our families, our homes, our churches, our friends, our workplace, our culture, our tools, our vehicles. Anyone who has felt the heavy silence that falls during a power outage knows just how much noise our very existence creates.
Even our praise seems to require noise. We speak often of the Bible’s instruction to "make a joyful noise" in praise. We voice our praises out loud. We sing. We join with the voices of our fellow believers in praises of prayer and song. The beautiful noise we create in our joint praise, and in our joyful fellowship as believers, offers a pleasant aroma to our Savior, I’m sure.
Noise often represents the life that we share. It reminds us that we are not alone. It helps us to actively interact with one another and with our Savior. And, of course, it helps us know exactly what our children are up to! (Hmmmm…are my children too quiet right now?)
Like all of life, however, noise must be kept in balance with silence. Ask people to sit in silence for 60 seconds, and it will quickly be obvious just how difficult silence is for us. They might not talk, but there will be seat shuffling, sniffling, and coughing scattered across the room. True, when we are silent with our voices, we simply hear those little things more readily. But I think more of those little noises are created when everything else is silent just to soften the silence a bit.
Silence has a solid place in our lives, but we are uncomfortable with it. So, just how important is it that we force ourselves to cultivate a balance between silence and noise? While reading Psalm 65 yesterday, I read that silence exists as a form of praise. I think that makes it pretty important!
There will be silence before You, and praise in Zion, O God, and to You the vow will be performed. Psalm 65:1
I rarely praise in silence. I feel as if I must sing or speak. I find it hard to let my heart swell in praise without words. But there are times when I need to praise through my silence. I need to let my heart absorb the presence, goodness, and power of my God without my words or the noise of life interfering. Sometimes, silence is necessary.
It has not always been so difficult for me. When I was a child, I used to go out and find a place where the only noises were those of nature. I would sit silently and just listen. I could literally hear the praises of nature, and my heart would join in silently. It was almost like the opening scene in the movie August Rush. Just listening made all the difference.
I want to cultivate that habit again – the habit of listening to the praise of creation and joining with my silence. There is a time and a place for loud praise. But if I cannot praise in silence as well, I miss so much. I want to once again hear the praise of silence.