One of my fondest memories from secondary (high) school is the story of ‘the list’. Back then in boarding school, we had these demi-gods, they called themselves class or school prefects and they milked the authority that was given to them. They were always on the lookout for offenders of all sorts, they wrote down names of everyone who mutter any sound at study time. At the end of the school week, the list is read and punishment served out. On this particular Friday, it seemed my friend won the award for noisemaking as she managed to make it onto about ten different lists and had to serve on ten different punishment sites doing everything from sweeping classrooms, washing dishes, mowing lawns, picking up litter, all in one day. We had a good laugh about it and split ourselves to help out in solidarity with our dear friend.
Proverbs 17 vs 27 – 28 says, ‘There is a time to be quiet and a wise person knows that time’. It seems we all missed that lesson in secondary school and had to pay for it each time our names made it to the list for talking at the wrong time.
A lot of times, we get uncomfortable when our environment is quiet. We take it upon ourselves to say something that breaks the silence. Quietness is good and the book of Proverbs encourages us to resist the urge to fill in the gaps of silence with noise. Instead, we should treasure moments of silence. King David recounts being led beside still waters in Ps 23. Stillwaters represents moments of silence when we can hear God speak so clearly.
It is easier for God to speak when He doesn’t have to yell Shut up! to get our attention. It is easier for our voice to be heard and adhered to when we are not always saying something – mostly noise. People struggle to take perceived noisemakers seriously – in fact, they don’t listen to most of what you say even when you have something worth listening to.
If God has something to say to you, you need to be quiet to hear Him. If God has something to say through you, you need to be quieter, so when you speak, people listen.
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