Do you have trouble being still? If you hesitated to answer this question then your answer is probably yes. Music. Traffic. Talking. Computers. Television. Cell phones. Even if we are in a seemingly quiet room, our minds are constantly racing (unless you are a guy who mostly resides in the “nothing” box).
I sat down with my coffee and computer to write but could not mentally stay engaged with one topic for more than about five seconds. Literally. I got up, pulled my journal from the shelf, moved back to the couch, and started writing in hopes of brain dumping all that was racing through my mind. In that moment I felt God gently reminding me that to hear Him I must be still. I must be silent. In the middle of one of the busiest seasons of the year I must take time to turn off the noise and turn on my listening ears. There are even Christmas songs that remind us of peace in the silence.
Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
We most clearly see holiness in the still, in the silent, when we can hear. Silence and peace often follow chaos but we must create margin.
“Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright.” I thought about what a peaceful song this is. I pictured the classic manger scene with Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, angels, and the three wise men. What a serene scene. But then I pictured the reality of what had happened just before. A young virgin girl had just given birth. If you have ever given birth or been present for one, you know that this is not a peace-filled situation. It is painful (oh, so painful!). It is messy. It can be a bit chaotic. And this is our twenty-first century version in a clean hospital, complete with pain medication and experienced medical staff! This young girl went through the entire process after traveling on an animal, being rejected from every place with a decent bed, only to wind up in a barn. No medication. No doctor. Very likely just Mary and Joseph along with the animals. And all that comes out of animals. And hay. And cold. I doubt this part of this story was much of a silent night.
I can imagine the moment baby Jesus took his first breath and let out his first cry is the exact moment a sense of a silent, holy night began.
As obvious as this is, I usually overlook that God was present. The Holy Spirit was present. Yes, we know that Jesus is God, but the Trinity must have been present in that place, in the barn, in the less than perfect setting. You cannot have true serenity, true peace without the presence of God.
Being pulled back to the present, I heard a man yelling outside. Here we are right in the middle of Christmas Season. We will have plenty of opportunities to fill our time and minds this holiday season and every day, really. But I want to purposefully take time each day to be still so I can hear what God is telling me. I want to make time after the chaos (or even during the chaos of the day) and have my silent night. The silent night that came that Christmas was not perfect. The events leading up to Jesus’ birth seemed like road block after road block. But Jesus’ presence brought peace. It brought celebration. And his presence has the same effect on us today, we just have to be quiet long enough to hear.
This holiday season, stop. Be still. Listen to the Spirit. And experience the silent night that only comes from knowing Jesus was born.