Silence is often an element that causes us to become uncomfortable. When a teacher asks a question and there is a long silence, we become uncomfortable because we do not know what will happen next. We quickly conclude the silence may be a reflection on us or identify something about us.
When a speaker stops for a long pause, the silence creates tension because we no longer know what to expect, as the predictable becomes the unpredictable. However, it is the unpredictable that offers opportunities to experiences something different or learn something new.
God tells Elijah to stand on the mountain, as He is about to pass by. A mighty wind, a terrible earthquake, and a great fire all take place in front of Elijah. And yet God does not come to Elijah in these significant events, but rather God is made known to Elijah in the stillness and peace of silence.
It is when we are silent that we can hear; it is when we expect nothing that we are surprised.
Silence in worship is a gift that we are initially uncomfortable with. We pause for silence in confession and prayers where our silence rarely exceeds 5-7 seconds. Imagine a silence of 30-60 seconds. Will you find tension or peace in the silence? Or will you encounter something unexpected?
God is always willing to talk with us and He does a great job of listening to all the problems, issues, challenges, and worries that we have. When we pray, we expect God to answer our prayers, but how many times to we allow God the chance to talk to us? How many times do we remain silent long enough so we can hear our Lord’s response?
Listen to the silence, welcome the unpredictable, and expect nothing…and be surprised at what you can hear, encounter, and experience: your Lord is waiting.