When the Word is silent
I know there is a God somewhere!
The verse of an African American spiritual came into my head as I was walking yesterday afternoon as a timely reminder that when the Word is silent I hear music in the air and I know that there must be a God somewhere!
I need to edit my thoughts, and what I have typed, but one deleted letter encouraged me to think of the many times I have heard people say — even complain — that God seems to be silent when they most want to hear some guidance and encouragement that can help them through the wilderness. Over my head, I hear music in the air, over my head, I hear music in the air, over my head, I hear music in the air; there must be a God somewhere is the chorus to the song and the first verse: Oh when the WORLD is silent….
As I sang, silently in my head, ‘when the WORD is silent,’ I imagined Jesus alone in the wilderness without a word from his Father to encourage him. God spoke in a voice from heaven as the Spirit came upon Jesus when he was baptised, but there is then silence in the wilderness! Why the silence when Jesus most needed the voice of our Father at his most challenging time? Why doesn’t God speak to us when we are being tempted and challenged by a noisy world?
Read it again and think about it: Jesus hears one voice shouting at him and all he has is the Spirit within him to help him overcome all the temptations of the world. Like us today, when the world is on our back tempting us to do something to escape our situations, and we want to hear God speaking, we are on our own with a silence. Oh when the WORD is silent I hear music in the air and I know there is a God somewhere!
I turn a few pages forward in my bible to find the answer to our dilemma because when we don’t know what to say or how to say it we “will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matthew 10: 20). When we have received the Spirit of God — as Jesus had — our Father trusts us to know what is right and to speak the truth to the world. We ARE the voice in the wilderness so don’t be afraid when you don’t hear God speaking, but be encouraged that our Father trusts you to do the right thing! It’s written in your heart so you don’t need a voice from heaven!
As he is on his own in the wilderness I imagine Jesus sitting round a fire telling his chosen friends that this is what discipleship will be like. It is his testimony of what happened after his baptism and how the world will demand miracles from you; expect to see God healing and saving and what to know you are prepared to sacrifice to save the world rather than wanting everything you can take from the world. Discipleship is costly, but if we are led by the Spirit we will speak the truth from within us.
It was my experiences in Kenya that I experienced the power of the Spirit leading people through the wilderness of shanty towns in Mathare Valley or the desert of Turkana. I saw the world shouting at them to do this or do that and being tempted to do what they shouldn’t do, but those that trusted in the Love of God felt the healing hands of angels on them. It is tempting when you have nothing to abandon the little you have for an abundance of wealth, but you can’t worship money and God. Every word that comes from the mouth of God will do more for the hungry than a loaf of bread.
A picture on my wall is from a photograph I took of a child in 1982 in the desert of Turkana who was hungry, thirsty, naked and sick and a prisoner of her circumstances. Rather than waiting for food to come to her from an aid agency her mother went on a two day walk to the main town of Lodwar to collect her most basic need — a BIBLE! Then she walked two more days to get home again. That’s the Spirit of God leading us through the wilderness and giving us what we need. Not a voice from heaven, but the gift of heaven from within us!
The first in the Lent series was from James Runcie and challenged us to look at the Passion through the lens of a ‘mystery drama.’ Part of the mystery included Jesus warning that the Temple will be destroyed within three days so we have the “ticking clock scenario, the race against time” to save the CHURCH before it is destroyed. What can we do in three days to save the declining church in such a short time? The story suggests that the business and religious leaders have to move fast to protect their own interests so they meet to discuss ways in which they can restore order and get rid of the troublemakers — legally or illegally.
I wonder whether it will be the troublemakers who will eventually shape a new church and help it rise from the dead! What will the church of the future look like in Broadway IF it falls apart because the different denominations insist on maintaining their traditions but can’t afford to maintain ministry? I am sure God will conclude with a happy ending to the mystery, but it will be painful on the way!
The MYSTERY of the drama that is unfolding as we continue to write the story that has a long, long history!
God Bless, Richard