Keep Silence

The world is a noisy place these days.

Maybe it’s just me.

No.  The cacophony of voices really is almost deafening.  My voice has usually been a part of the confusing mix.  I had even grown accustomed to it.

The ear-splitting volume is not always from the sounds one hears, either.  Just as often it’s from the colossal tidal wave of data and communication that overwhelms and dizzies us with a vertigo that threatens to dump us into the flood itself.

Last night, for the first time in a month, I sat at my computer’s keyboard and determined to make myself heard once more.  I would rise above the flood and the waves.

Not yet.

The Lord is in His holy temple.  Let all creation be silent before Him.  (Habakkuk 2:20)

I sat, hands on the keys, ready for inspiration.  All I got was a reminder to keep quiet.

I went to bed instead.

What?  You think sleeping is the same thing as keeping quiet?  

I did, too.  I was wrong.

I was supposed to be working this morning, but I dressed and, coffee cup in hand, sat in front of my computer once more, contemplating the words from last night.  I wondered why I had to keep quiet, even after a month of doing just that.

As is often the case in my office, peaceful music played on one of the internet radio stations as I considered the issue.

Suddenly, I became aware of the song which had begun to play.  I couldn’t help it; I laughed out loud.

The music wafting through the air asked the question:  Are you sleeping, Brother John?

Frére Jacques, Frére Jacques,
Dormez-vous, Dormez-vous?

It’s a simple children’s song from long ago, but the question it poses is all I need to take me back again.  Decades in the past.

After fifty-five years, I still remember keenly the disappointment.  

My Daddy, a Navy Radioman, was coming home from being out at sea on a big ship.  

He would be there that night!  It would be well after our bedtime, but Mama, knowing the excitement would be more than we could contain anyway, gave her permission for all five of us children to stay up and wait for him.  

We clambered onto the hide-a-bed mattress that served as the bedroom suite for them in the living room—with five children stuffed into a tiny mobile home, there was no separate room for Mom and Dad—wrestling and shoving each other until she grew impatient.

Each of you just lie there quietly and wait!  It won’t be long now.

Do you understand my disappointment?  The next thing—the very next thing—I remember is waking up in my own bunk bed in the room I shared with my three brothers at the back of the little rolling domicile.

Sure—Daddy was still home.  But, the arrival, the celebration had happened without me.

I woke up to just another day.  Just another day.

I missed it!  No welcome home hug for my Daddy—no standing on his spit-shined Navy Oxfords to walk across the floor while I wrapped my chubby arms around his knees—no running his knuckles gently through my burr haircut in a teasing, painless Dutch rub.

I fell asleep.  

Waiting quietly, I fell asleep.

They are not the same thing.  

They’re not.

In my mind, I hear another voice.  It’s a gentle voice, but there is sadness in the words.

Could you not watch with me one hour?  (Matthew 26:40)

The Man, about to face the worst ordeal one could imagine, asked only that they watch quietly and wait for Him to finish a conversation with His Father.

Waiting quietly, they slept.

They are not the same thing—waiting quietly and sleeping.  

They’re not.

Even while we wait quietly to learn what comes next, we need to be alert and ready to move at a moment’s notice.

Waiting, we watch.

Be still, and know the wonder—the quiet and mysterious wonder of anticipation.  Good things still lie ahead.

Be still, and know the wonder—the quiet, mysterious wonder of anticipation. Good things lie ahead. Click To Tweet

Our Heavenly Father is doing exactly what He has always intended to do.  

I’m ready to be still and wait for what’s next.

And, I’ll try to stay awake.



For a brief space you have been called aside
From glad working of busy life,
From the world’s ceaseless stir of care and strife,
Into shade and stillness by your Heavenly Guide.
For a brief space you have been called aside.
(from Streams in the Desert ~ Anonymous)




But the Lord is in His holy temple.  Let all the earth keep silence before Him.
(Habakkuk 2:20 ~ NLT)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved. 

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