I took a couple weeks off due to some traveling, but I'm back now, back in the saddle. Before I took my little break I was working through some reflections on silence.
Today I want to combine my usual Monday "Longing For More" post with my continuing reflection on silence.
We find that when confronted with silence and openness and majesty and wonder and solitude, we are deeply moved, so touched by it that we don’t speak; it feels silly to do so. C.S. Lewis and Rudolf Otto refer to this sense or feeling as the numinous. Lewis also calls it Holiness.
When confronted with the numinous of open space, or vast beauty, we don’t move. I remember watching the sun rise over Bryce Canyon in southern Utah; the experience left breathless. I recall staring at the whale stars and listening to the mountain creeks in Durango and feeling like I was peeking in on something very secret. The numinous quality halted me, and I remained still.
God is like this, though we don’t take the time to see him as such. Too often we treat him as our pocket Savior, our own personal Jesus, or our political fail-safe or maybe even our get-out-of-jail-free card for a way of living we know isn’t on the up and up.
How often do you and I approach God from the standpoint of self-want and flippancy. Either we're living life so fast that we don't notice his numinous or Holy quality, or we simply ignore it. In Ecclesiastes the Teacher says:
Watch your step when you enter God’s house. Enter to learn. That’s far better than mindlessly offering a sacrifice, doing more harm than good.
Don’t shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think. Don’t be too quick to tell God what you think he wants to hear. God’s in charge, not you—the less you speak, the better.
I'm thinking today about the times I've "shot my mouth off" to God, and not in a good way either. I'm thinking today about Christian leadership in the greater culture and the posture of "shooting our mouths off," adding to the noise of a culture of pride and dissonance.
“If you have only come the length of asking God for things,” writes theologian Oswald Chambers, “you have never come to the first strand of abandonment, you have become a Christian from a standpoint of your own.”
We cannot approach God as though he were a cosmic superstore. We must be willing to hold the relational position of self-abandonment.
Today, let's enter our lives and vocations and wanderings ready to listen, ready to learn, ready to worship from a standpoint of Holy Deferment--closing our mouths so we can gain the change of understanding how deep and how wide is the glory of God.
A BRILLIANT EXPOSE OF WHAT REALLY MATTERS IN LIFE, JUST WHEN IT SEEMED WE WERE ABOUT TO FORGET.
-GABY LYONS, FOUND OF Q, AUTHOR OF THE NEXT CHRISTIANS
Timothy Willard loves to sit with his wife by the bonfire and make up stories about Tom the Backyard-Badger for his three lovely daughters. When he's not carving up the Appalachian Mountains on his Salsa El Mariachi, you can find him busy writing a book, collaborating on a book, or reading a book written by someone dead and gone. Timothy studied beauty in the works of C.S. Lewis under theologian Alister McGrath. The author of five books, including Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society (Zondervan), Timothy is currently finishing The Life-Changing Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019), preparing his doctoral thesis for publication, and trying to find a publisher for his first novel The Tempest and the Bloom. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.