Devotion - June 2

[Psalms 6-10 / Proverbs 2 / Ecclesiastes 3:1-8]

a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

—Ecclesiastes 3:7

As I mentioned yesterday, this next two weeks of devotions will primarily be other voices as I take some time away for reflection and rest. Given the continuing unrest around us, however, an exhortation continues to surface in my own spirit about speaking and silence.

I am observing a destructive speech cyclone in our time. The first words of response to the threats of pandemic or racial violence are spoken -- then the escalation. That we are primarily *speaking* to one another through screens increases the pitch and anxiety of the exchanges online even as we watch the pitch and anxiety of public protests and political response escalate each day.

Remember in these days that there is a time for silence, and as followers of Jesus we must take that time.

Silence is essential to our capacity to engage in these times without self-righteousness.
Richard Foster writes: “Silence is one of the deepest disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on all self-justification. One of the fruits of silence is the freedom to let God be our justifier. We don’t need to straighten others out.”

The discipline of silence before the Lord each day is demanding and difficult.
I find I can only enter a silent space before God by meditating on a passage of Scripture to quiet all the other voices and fears, hopes and concerns in my spirit. Charles Spurgeon said, "There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them."

The challenge of silence can also be the lack of any technique or "how to" that invites our control. Silence only 'works' if God, in Jesus Christ, by the power of the Spirit will be and do as promised -- meet with us in the secret places of prayer. Fr. Richard Rohr has written:

“The simplest spiritual discipline is some degree of solitude and silence. But it’s the hardest, because none of us want to be with someone we don’t love. Besides that, we invariably feel bored with ourselves, and all of our loneliness comes to the surface.

We won’t have the courage to go into that terrifying place without Love to protect us and lead us, without the light and love of God overriding our own self-doubt. Such silence is the most spacious and empowering technique in the world, yet it’s not a technique at all. It’s precisely the refusal of all technique.”

Silence is the starting place for new creation. So much seems to surface in silence, and so little seems to be accomplished, yet silence is where the world is remade by the Spirit of God, the chaos is reformed by the word of the Lord, the wound is healed in love -- and we are equipped to discern and respond to Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life. This requires that we, who are called to be salt and light in the world, stop reacting to the tumult and clamor in which we are immersed and instead respond from a place of stillness and silent trust in God. Only then will we know if it is time to tear or restore, keep silence or speak.

Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.
-- Mother Teresa

Praying alongside and for you, in love,
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