This time of year it feels like everyone is trying to influence me. From vendors to “influencers” and Youtubers, to the endless emails from charities reminding me of their existence. There is a lot of noise right now about how to live, how to spend money, and how to be the best me (of a price, of course).
The biblical character Bildad asks, ‘How long till you put an end to words?’ Which is a great question. Sometimes we Christians can get too wordy, our worship services so full of noise that we can rarely ever hear God amidst them. Sometimes we argue until we are blue in the face over some refined theological point. We can write entire books on the smallest of teachings. All of which brings me back to the wonderful question ‘How long till you put an end to words?’
There are several places in the bible where it is very strongly suggested we try to speak less and listen more. The proverbial truth that we have two ears and one mouth was not missed by the biblical writers. Of course we love a good talker and sometimes we are in painful socially awkward situations and we give real thanks to God that there is a talker. Sometimes though what we need is some quiet.
The great mystic tradition of Christianity is often ignored; partly because it is hard to understand and hard to replicate, and partly because a lot of the mystic-type folks can’t be bothered to even try to convey what is happening to them, they are simply enjoying the moment and thanking God for the experience of life.
Bildad is arguing that we need to listen. Sure he may have wanted to be right and wanted Job to listen to him particularly but I think the practice of trying to listen is extremely helpful even if Bildad’s word were a bit untimely.
In our church we have been practicing journalling of late and one of the greatest comments I got was from someone who noticed how in putting pen to paper (we do it analog) more and more ideas come, links and associations percolate in the mind and a single idea can generate a lot of insight. On the one hand this is us making noise (silent as writing is we are sort of talking by writing) on the other hand sitting quietly with nowhere else to be and nothing else to do opens the space for us to hear from God and perhaps (optimistically) what we capture on our pages is God speaking to us, like we are students in class taking notes.
When it is noisy out there (or inside our skulls) how do you listen to your life? Will words come to an end? Can you embrace quite, and, if so, how?
I suggest journalling but there are many options and they are worthy of your attention and experimentation.
If the bible is anything to by (and I think it is) you might be surprised what happens when you do.