Silence doesn't always mean "The End"
- Written by NANCY WILLIAMS
Silence is golden, or so the saying goes. As much as I like music stirring around me, there are times, I must admit, when silence is welcome. There’s the calm after the storm. The hush of a crowd, offering a moment of silent reflection and honor. Parents of a baby welcome the quiet that signals their little one is resting peacefully. Performers couple silence with a bow to indicate the end of their presentation. When offered in a time of worship, silence allows hearts to join in reverence. Silence often indicates a finale, a successful completion, a mission fulfilled; and we recognize it with applause. However, when the silence is not welcomed, the cries of a grieving heart may be heard. Whatever the message, we act on the belief that an end has come. Yet that silence may not signal an end at all but rather a pause, to bring closure to what has been experienced and to prepare for what is yet to come. If you have attended musical concerts, you may have experienced this very thing. You’re listening to a composition that seems to end. Then there is silence. The audience, supposing the conclusion, begins to applaud, only to have the musicians begin the next movement of the same piece. What you just experienced is known as a grand pause. It is not the end of the musical selection, but rather a distinct break between segments as the musicians guide us from an ending of one phase to the beginning of another. In the music of our lives, there are grand pauses - times of silence. They sometimes come with expectation, as a chapter of life draws to a close, creating a pause to celebrate completion, reflect on lessons learned, and prepare to move ahead. Pauses also come about when God steps into our hectic lives to calm the whirlwind and provide the breathing space we need to slow down. We’re ready, then, to experience new songs he has written for the days ahead. There are times when a life pause, a time of silence, provides a respite from the storms of life, a soothing balm to heal the heart and renew the spirit. Yet there are times when that grand pause comes, all is silent, and we find ourselves questioning, “Why did the music stop? Shouldn’t something be happening? Where are you, God? What do we do now?” As this Easter season unfolds, I’ve found myself reflecting on how Jesus’ followers dealt with such a time in their lives. They had spent three years believing they were on a journey toward deliverance and that Jesus was, indeed, the Messiah they had been waiting for. They sat at the feet of their teacher as he opened the eyes of their hearts to a deeper understanding of God. They stood by his side, ministering to others. They shared their hearts with him as they broke bread together. The future looked full of promise. Then, suddenly, their dreams shattered and their joyful hearts flooded with fear. Hope seemed to slip through their hands as they watched their Messiah taken from them, crucified and then buried in a tomb. Imagine their sense of loss, their pain, their feelings of hopelessness. Then came the silence. The next day for them was the Sabbath, a day of worship. What a challenge to draw close to God and follow in worship and obedience, even in the midst of what seemed like profound loss and future uncertainty. Yet, he carried them through that Sabbath into a new day and showed them that what felt like an ending was in fact a pause in his ultimate plan for their lives, and for ours. Once again, God’s songs of love filled their hearts with hope as they met their risen Savior – God’s promise fulfilled. Easter is a season of joyful celebration. It’s also a time of hope. A reminder that when we experience losses, when we feel like life is over and there’s nothing left, we need to hold on, press through the darkness, draw close to God in the silence, and then watch as he leads us into the promise of a new day. Be encouraged.