"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."
— Proverbs 10:19
We live in a wordy world! Most of us are plugged in and tethered to words all the time. Especially right now, it feels like we get a constant stream of 24/7 news. Our ears, eyes, minds and hearts are constantly filled with opinions, ideas and insights to the current crisis.
Our world is noisy because we are wordy. We talk, blab and make noise all the time; we are constantly filling the air with our words. If it is not our own words, we fill it with other voices appearing on TV and in newspapers, videos, music and more. Our minds get jammed with noise, which leads us to believe silence is for the weak and soft.
“I often repent of having spoken but never of having remained silent.”
We have become experts at being wordy. Speaking too many words is often our default mode. Did you know the average person will have 30 conversations a day and produce about 16,000 words? In one year, your words would fill 132 books with 400 pages each. Roughly 20 percent of our lives is spent yakking away!
We need to turn these words off. No one will do it for us. We control the flow. In the middle of this pandemic, it is hard to turn off all the words. We think we will miss something or be behind on the latest and greatest update. But guess what—we won’t.
We fear silence, empty space and blank space.
Even if many of us were to seek out silence today, we would still be plugged in. Our 24/7 access to technology means there is never total silence. Our wordy world is engrained into us; it has become a part of who we are. But, wisdom says stop talking. Cut out the words.
Silence is golden. Seriously. Being silent is a discipline that we need to pull from the shelf, dust off and put into action. During this time we need to pursue silence because it doesn’t happen on its own. We might be alone, quarantined and social distancing, but this doesn’t equal silence and solitude. Silence is a lost spiritual discipline for a follower of Christ. But what if we saw our current situation as a way to practice it?
Silence is engaged listening.
Silence and solitude do not equal taking a break. It is not a time to unplug and do nothing. Silence is listening—and listening is hard. My high school football coach said there is a difference between listening and hearing. Listening is taking what we hear and putting it into action. Listening in silence leads to engagement.
True silence fuels the inner fire.
Our inner fire is controlled by the Holy Spirit, and we need be silent long enough to know the difference between our voice and God’s voice. Our wordy world will suffocate us because it does not recognize this inner fire nor does it care. Even when we are still, we battle numerous internal voices. Our ear needs to bend toward Heaven and listen for God’s heartbeat. This can be an all-out battle. But we need to break through the wordy world and listen, living a life marked with silence. If we do nothing, our lives will be marked by noise.
"He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin."
— Proverbs 13:3
Silence gives us a voice… God’s voice!
We can redeem this current time we’re in by seeking silence. Others may not value our pursuit of it, and many may look at silence as an excuse to be lazy. However, silence purifies the soul. Henri Nouwen realized that “the eyes and ears are doors that evil enters. Evil does not exit through the ears and eyes. But the mouth is the opposite. Evil does not enter the mouth—only exits.”
“A word with power is a word that comes out of silence.”
— Henri J.M. Nouwen
Silence brings focus, simplicity and clarity.
God speaks and reveals His heart to us in silence. The fire within us needs to be protected from our wordy world. Let’s turn it off and tune in to God’s still, small voice. This is a voice that is discovered when we are silent.
Father in Heaven, I want to redeem this time for You. Forgive me for filling it with the wordy world and not Your voice. May this time be marked with silence and solitude. Give me a listening ear so I can hear Your still small voice. In Jesus’ name, Amen.