“But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:20
When my sweet dad was a Scout leader, he was honored one year at summer camp by being “tapped out” to join the Order of the Arrow. This esteemed cadre of Scouters required its members to go through an “ordeal”—24 hours of complete silence, starting with sleeping solo overnight in total darkness beside a trail.
Another element of the initiation involved whittling a small arrow out of a stick of wood. Initiates were asked to notch the arrow according to how many words they said if they broke the silence. Dad’s arrow had two notches: someone complimented him on his whittling job, and he accidentally blurted out a “thank you.”
(Dad’s ordeal actually began after the campout…he discovered that the soft spot he had chosen in the dark for his sleeping bag was covered in poison ivy. He itched for weeks.)
My dad has gone to be with the Lord, but I have never forgotten this story or the value that Scouts had placed on being silent.
Do you think you could go more than a day without saying something out loud, even if you’re alone? Could you go a week? How about 40 days, as Christ did in the wilderness before His encounter with Satan?
There’s something about the discipline of silence that brings us in closer communion with God.
Spending our entire life without speaking wouldn’t be in keeping with His plan—we should normally be vocal in sharing the gospel, ministering to the needs of others, or praising Him with exuberance. But it’s healthy to take short moments of quiet and solitude away from the clamoring noise of our highly-technological, always-connected, loud-music, media-driven world.
Yesterday, we (my husband, son, and I) hiked through snow along the crest of Unaka Mountain, following the Appalachian Trail near Unicoi. It was a breathtaking afternoon, with sunlight glinting through the trees and illuminating the hoarfrost crystals that fringed the tree trunks and branches.
Except for bits of conversation and the tramping of our feet, we walked in complete silence. We didn’t meet another soul, although a cross-country skier ahead of us had graciously given us an easy trail to follow. We saw only one bird but heard no birdsong.
The silence, like the waning afternoon sunlight, was golden. The only music was the clink of ice crystals falling upon us and on the snowcrust.
Such moments are to be cherished as rare privileges. They are balm to the soul, filling us with God’s pleasure and comfort. They are times of refuge, refreshment, re-igniting our passion for serving Him.
My hope is that you, friend, may find time this week to spend in silence before Him. Maybe you’ve had a lot of those quiet times in COVID isolation in the past year…maybe not, if your household has had more folks staying at home!
Whatever your situation, look for opportunities to be silent and simply listen to His voice. Let Him whisper His lovesong over you…the very best music to your ears.
Father in Heaven, majestic King upon Your throne and Lord of all creation, let us keep silent before You. Let the noise of this world fade away until we can hear the soft words of love You are ever speaking to us. Let us kneel before You in awe and wonder—hearing Your voice, listening for Your guidance and commandments, and receiving Your blessings. In the beautiful name of Jesus, Amen.
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