Come Quiet

Every time I read Ecclesiastes (and I read it often; it’s my favorite), I pause at chapter five, thinking, This one’s for me, isn’t it, God?

And it is, always.

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.

Do not be quick with your mouth,
    do not be hasty in your heart
    to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
    and you are on earth,
    so let your words be few.

I was born into the church, the toddler who sang “Jesus Loves Me” loud and proud who grew into a kid who always raised her hand to answer Sunday School questions with need-to-go-to-the-bathroom-level fervor who grew into the teenager who thought and wrote and talked at a level that, she was sure, was above her peers.

And Ecclesiastes reminds me, Let your words be few.

Even now, as an extrovert, group discussions and Bible studies are my favorite things, and I can churn out dozen of blog posts, all of them much longer than The Experts say they should be. I’m the one with split-second opinions on any issue under the sun, unfailingly confident in my advice and decisions.

And Ecclesiastes reminds me, Go near to listen.

At every stage in my life, I have puzzled through times of uncertainty about what God is doing—when the journal page stayed blank, when my eyes roamed over familiar passages without feeling strengthened by them, when my expectations remained unmet or I disappointed myself or others. There are days when I don’t mean the words to the songs I’m singing or I’m tempted to give up on a hard friendship or life just seems weary, and instead of turning to Jesus, I think I need to solve everything myself, to sit down and make a plan, start a conversation, rescue everything with my own brilliant idea.

And Ecclesiastes reminds me, Do not be hasty in your heart.

If you’ve ever found yourself in a place like that, here’s what I’ve learned: go to God. Go to his house and his family, the church, in whatever state you’re in. Write if you need to, pray if you can, groan with all of creation if you can’t.

But come quiet.

Leave behind the need to fill up the silence with words or Internet scrolling or even music. Don’t even feel like you’re entitled to discover all the answers or come away with the right solution. Just listen. It’s a place of humility, and one that we sometimes need to be dragged into, because it’s uncomfortably dependent…but good.

Because Ecclesiastes reminds us all, God is in heaven and you are on earth.

Not that he’s far away and we’re small and insignificant (even though we are). After all, the first verse tells us to come near. Instead, the image it should give us is of a God who is holy and mighty and totally sovereign.

And maybe it’s good, sometimes, to remember that our words—that even my many, many words—are ultimately not enough. The best response to the hard times of life is not frequent check-ins with others for reassurance, more logical reasoning, a longer to-do list or a five-year plan…but silence in the presence of a God who is in heaven and in control.

Oh, Ecclesiastes. You know me so well. Because I have many words. I’m not always good at listening, especially to God. My heart is often hasty.

But God is in heaven and I am on earth. And that is all I need.

15 comments

  1. We have been in such a trying season lately. It was encouraging to remember that many of us go through trying seasons–and we do so with hasty hearts. Thank you for your gentle words, Amy. Love you.

  2. The whole “I was born…my peers” paragraph hit me right in my pride, haha. Thank you for spelling it out so clearly and letting His Spirit do the work in me. Also, thanks for reminding me to dig into Ecclesiastes again. It’s been a little while. 🙂

  3. Love the post Amy. Enjoyed reading Ecclesiastes 5 today and then being quiet.

    I also wanted to say that Kristin and I both love the way God created you. Energetic, enthusiastic, creative, bold, a servants heart. So yes, be quiet and still but celebrate and rejoice – He has made you and amazing person that blesses everyone around you.

  4. I stumbled across your blog after I finished a daily devotional with Rick Warren. Liked your piece about passing the peace, then went on and read what you said about Ecclesiastics and you. I try to restrain myself by talking less, but I have my struggles. Seem to do better in a group where people don’t know me. As a life-long confirmed extrovert, when I’m a part of a group I’ve known for awhile, when it gets quiet, I find people looking at me. “C’mon Larry say something, say anything.” I think I’ll spend some time in Ecclesiastics and some reflection. Well written, Amy, thank you.

    1. Thank you, Larry! And words and the use of them can be a gift, so being quiet isn’t always what’s best. But I think extroverts like us need the occasional reminder of the benefits of silence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s