Today was my first experience of laryngitis. It was odd trying to have a meeting on the phone this morning with my board chairman…he did all the talking and I did all the listening; the meeting didn’t last very long without my input on our most important topics. It was especially uncomfortable attending a significant lunch meeting downtown with some key supporters of our ministry and I had to rely on my colleagues to speak for me. Later in the day I was on skype with our senior vice president and whispered each of my contributions to the discussions. Dinner with my wife was enjoyable, mostly because our love was shared by making the meal together and enjoying one another’s companionship even with our limited verbal interactions.
I can only imagine what it was like when God allowed Zechariah to wait for the birth of his son John in silence. He questioned with disbelief the angel Gabriel’s birth announcement, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” For the next nine months he would serve his priestly role without words, using sign language and writing out his words. When the child was born and prepared for his circumcision both Elizabeth and Zechariah declared his name would be John. Then Zechariah’s voice returned. And he praised God. His soul must have been bursting with anticipation of the day he could voice his devotion once more.
What followed was the song of his heart, as he declared his praise to God as one filled up with the Holy Spirit. “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people…he has raised up a horn of salvation…to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant…in holiness and righteousness…because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1: 67-79). Out from his months of silence, his words were laced with praise.
Did Zechariah experience community, prayerfulness and worship amidst his muted months without words? I’m convinced the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Why? Because it’s absolutely amazing how much community and depth of soul can be experienced without saying many words. Try going for a full day without verbally expressing yourself and instead devote the day to pondering, reflecting, wondering, and noticing. It’s amazing what you’ll see, hear, taste, smell and touch as if for the very first time. Let your senses come alive in God and then give him all the glory, honor and praise.
Behold the abundant life of God, but today do so without words. Believe that the spiritual life is something far deeper than the noisy world around you. Belong to those who’ve been silenced for a while in order to contemplate God more deeply. Become a person who experiences the Triune God in all the richness of fellowship and with all your senses coming alive from the inside out. Wait upon the Lord, even if it means a lot more silence along the way. Praise be to the Lord, who has come so that we can have fullness of life now and for all eternity.