One day this week I stopped in my morning walk to listen. I was near a large pond on the left, just west of our home. A huge condo complex stands on my right. Behind me are blocks of houses. To the south is a major ring road, perhaps 4-6 blocks away. Yet the air was empty of noise. For a few minutes, I heard nothing except the swish of a bird landing in the pond. As I used to do with my children, I stood and listened to the silence.
One spiritual discipline is the art of silence. It is in the quietness of life that God is best heard, but silence is a discipline to be practiced. Our world is terribly noisy. Then, by learning to listen in the silence, I can better discern the voice of God in the clamor of life.
Luke records what is called the Magnificant, or Mary’s song. In her perplexity and joy, she could have chosen worry or fear, but she decides to focus on her joy and praise God.
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.” (Luke 1:46–50)
Was she in a place of silence when she sang this song? I suspect she was. I call silence a place of grace for so often that is the place and time where songs bubble up in my heart. I hear God best in silence and perhaps then is when He best hears me, not that He needs silence as I do, but that silence is the place for my best thoughts.
Last night we attended the first session of a “Living Generously” seminar. I feel badly for those who stayed away because they thought it would be about their wallets. Instead, it is about the freedom of totally trusting God, about being absolutely surrendered to His care. It is about silencing the building of our own kingdoms and relaxing in His. It is about the joy of knowing that the God of glory is meeting all my needs, and in that knowledge, my heart begins to sing.
Today’s devotional says that singing is the language of heaven. The author didn’t offer a chapter and verse for that conclusion, but I suspect he is correct. Whenever I remember that God is in charge and focus on that wonderful reality (instead of my worries), songs bubble up in my spirit.
This is what happened to Mary. She had nothing to sing about in her situation, yet she trusted God and was able to let go of her anxieties, even her plans for her own life. Instead, she saw that God was doing something great and she magnified Him with a song.
The seminar runs all day today. I suspect we will do some group singing, but I also suspect there will be moments where the speaker gives us time to ponder what he offers us, just as he did last night. When he does that, in the silence my heart will no doubt be filled with songs of praise.