Silence can be complicated.
There’s the silence of fear accompanied only by the clippity-clop of your galloping heart.
There’s the eerie silence that is heard in the dead center of a fierce storm.
But then, there’s the other silence.
The one that is found as a mom gazes into the eyes of her newborn baby… or when lovers linger long in each other’s eyes.
Yep, silence is tricky. Sometimes a friend, sometimes a foe.
And sometimes just on the surface.
You know that kind. The one that sparkles and shines while proudly stating that all is well with you.
The one that others see, that sometimes even you believe is real.
But deep down in your heart, it is not quiet. The truth screams to you – ‘this silence is just a farce’.
Discomfited by the disharmony, your spirit longs for more… for when there’s no quiet within, no matter how calm and bright it looks on the outside, you can’t be content… happy… free of cares… joyous… you get the point.
Joy. My one word for 2017.
This year as I trudged along amidst the ups and downs, I tried to focus on joy… an even keeled joy that remains through tears and smiles. By God’s grace, I came to realize that that kind of joy comes only by surrender… by forgetting who I am and bowing down before the King of this world.
But the silence of surrender is not always quiet.
Sometimes, it is accompanied by striving… an unrest that says, ‘I’m still not sure I can trust you’… a desire to hold onto control... a not fully letting go type of surrender. Perhaps in some way a failure to fully grasp the peace that was offered that first Christmas.
A few years ago, I broke with tradition and put up a white Christmas tree. I’ve never been a fan of white Christmas trees, but that year I felt drawn to one. The colour - a sign of surrender - was symbolic to me. All decked out in apple green and turquoise with pastel lights my tree twinkled and glowed beautifully. To crown it all, I printed out, coloured and pasted on my walls… the words… 'peace', 'joy', 'hope' and 'love'. It was perfect, and despite gentle prodding from my husband, those words remained on my walls for years.
As I lived out my messy life, my eyes would be drawn to those words, ever-present reminders of the fruits of surrender.
But just a couple months ago, following Hurricane Irma when I found the pieces of those same words strewn across my ravaged home, I wondered - how quiet is my surrender. Will I accept good and not 'bad' from my father? Or will I be at ease, content even when.
As I held the ragged scraps of paper, the tears streamed down my face, and I pondered those four words and their inextricable link. Could I experience this joy, hope, peace and love in the silence of my night? Am I like a child weaned from my mother trusting God to provide as He sees fit? Is my spirit quieted and calmed despite the turmoil around? Am I able to enjoy God’s gifts even in the mess?
That last one – joy in the unrest - has been a challenge for me.
But I’m learning, dear friends, about the link between quiet and joy. About the quiet that shatters my silence... strips away my need for control... and shushes the noisiness of my doubts. About the quiet that wraps me in the assurance of a Love that knows no bounds... a deep, personal love beautifully displayed in my Saviour's humble birth, His sacrificial death in my place, and His unending desire for my good.
The kind of quiet that seeps deep within and hushes my restless heart.
Those words jump off the wall and into my heart…
The striving stops.
Peace flows, hope abounds, love is shared and joy spills over.
The even keeled joy that I longed for… the one that remains even when the tears are falling… the one that starts at Christmas and lasts the whole year long… the one that is rooted in love and intertwined with hope and peace. The one that makes silence your friend, because deep down in your heart you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it is well with your soul.
My prayer for you, dear friend, is that in the midst of your silent night... you'll look up and see the God who knows our imperfect, noisy surrender, our shaky desire to bow down, and still showers us with His love. That you'll allow His love to break into your silence, quiet the unrest within and spill over as joy.
A joy that lasts the whole year through.
Somewhere in Your Silent Night by Casting Crowns