Silence, the other side.
In our spiritual formation circles, we long to practice silence. For it is life giving. We become more attuned to listening, hearing from God, sensing His awesome Presence.
But the other side.
When God seems to be silent.
And we are either raging, passionate, hopeless and more…
That silence is fiercely quiet.
We question the quiet.
We pelt the heavens with our desperate cries of ‘why the silence?’
And yet we long for silence so we can ‘hear’ Him. But when the tables are turned or so it seems, we long for the noise and restless stirrings of the heavens to break in upon us, to reassure us that we are not alone.
And then we come upon Revelation 8:1: Heaven fell quiet- complete silence for about half an hour.
Heaven fell quiet? All of heaven with its legions of Angels and Saints worshipping day and night?
Perhaps they were silent so that they could hear the prayers of those from earth who were desperately crying out to God for help.
Well, if we continue to read about what happened next, we will see that out of the silence, action developed. All heaven heard the prayers of the people!
And then they took those prayers, those heart cries and offered them up to God. An Angel was given a great quantity of incense so that he could offer up the prayers of all the holy people of God on the Golden Altar before the Throne. …Smoke billowed up from the incense-laced prayers of the Holy ones, rose before God from the hand of the Angel. Then the Angel filled the censer with fire from the Altar and heaved it to earth. It set off thunders, voices, lightnings, and an earthquake. (v.4b-5)
Quiet … Action!
Eugene Peterson calls this ‘reversed thunder’. “The prayers had ascended, unnoted by the journalists of the day, returned with immense force- in George Herbert’s phrase, as a ‘reversed thunder.’ Prayer reenters history with incalculable effects.” (Rev.8 – Conversation: Eugene Peterson)
All is not lost when there is silence in heaven. All may seem lost when we are crying out, feeling as if our prayers are floating somewhere out there in cyber space or something.
But the real picture, the true picture is that God is listening. Our prayers are not for naught. Rather they are caught and returned with action.
So today, take heart.
Out of the silence, action develops…