DEEPER HOPE

Deeper Hope:

An Abiding Virtue

This book explores the meaning -- and application -- of Christian Hope. It takes the fuzzy concept of Hope and reveals it in everyday settings

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The Ancient Secret of Dialing It Down

I keep a dreadful secret from my friends at church. You see, where I worship, if you think the music’s too loud, you are definitely too old. The drugged-out neighbors near our building call the police to complain about the noise. The Kentucky Academy of Pediatrics has labeled our church the number one threat to children’s hearing in the state. Baby Boomers bring earplugs to church. All the guitar amps go to 11.

But deep in the recesses of my iPhone, where no one can see my music collection, I have a playlist of gentle music. At my desk, I put in the ear buds and secretly dial it down. Because God lives in the still small sounds, too.

We’ve manufactured noise to a breathtaking level. One reason pipe organs and symphony orchestras were the rage during Bach and Mozart’s day was no one had ever heard such sound before—sound so full that patrons' hearts would burst at the fullness. Now, in the 21st century Bach, the Beatles, and Beyoncé all live inside my ear-buds.

Even more radical: sometimes I like no sound at all. 
Laptops, iPhones, iPads, and Satellite TV are just fine. But their use comes with a price. The price is silence, and in the silence God is speaking: “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3: 17) Can you imagine? Peace, quietness, confidence, and the chance to hear God Himself singing over you. Have you ever heard His song?

I used to think the silence meant God wasn’t speaking. Now, in the silence, he’s all I hear.
 As a young man I would look to the stars, overwhelmed by the beauty of the night sky. I knew from Psalm 19 that the heavens declared the glory of God. I could see his greatness, but could not hear his voice. Even in their majesty I would wonder why God was so silent. My prayers, especially at night, were filled with requests and concerns. I would list my needs one by one, unaware that my greatest need was stillness.

Of the many needs of North American believers, silence is among the greatest. Silence is the blank page on which God writes his word. Our noisy world scribbles on the page continually, overlaying sound and word on top of word and sound until the page becomes black. Unless the page is clean we cannot read what God has written.

The pathway of modern life has been hardened, trampled by words. Back in the day you had to visit Times Square; now Times Square visits you. The sower sows the seed but it falls on the path and is carried away by Sports Center, YouTube, NPR, Fox News, and of course our ubiquitous ear buds. Quiet is an aberration Drop any comedian into a monastery and he’ll have the monks doing hip-hop before it’s over. Even our Bibles are cluttered with sidebars and graphics, pictures and celebrity interpretations—Bible apps will read to us out loud.

But what if God is in the silence? He wasn’t in the whirlwind or earthquake for Elijah. The “still, small voice” is still a whisper. Perhaps the Father has his reasons for not raising is voice. I suspect it’s for our good that we find him in the secret place, well away from Times Square.

Why not create a secret place each day and give him just three minutes of blank slate? The Father doesn’t need a podcast to reach our hearts. If we find his presence in the silence it will be enough.

By the way, I’ve noticed that for many North American believers total silence may be too radical for starters. So if you promise to keep my secret from my loud church friends, I’d like to recommend quiet music for quiet times:

§ Chant, The Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos. These guys have been rockin’ it old-school for 1500 hundred years.

§ Chants of the Russian Orthodox Church. Still quiet music, until the chimes and bells go nuts. These guys get a little rowdy—the Benedictines to the south think of this music as punk.

§ Love Came Down, Brian Johnson. A thousand years and a ten thousand miles from the monks comes an album from the Jesus Culture rockers. Don’t even call it unplugged. It’s sweet and gentle, and a pathway to His presence

For today, I’ll whisper the benediction: “Grace to you, and peace.”

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