By the time you read this I will be in the air on my way to Sudan. Matt, Nick, and Olivia are with me, and we once again find ourselves carrying the pregnant silence that always comes with the anticipation of wondering “What will God do now, next—in us, among us, with us, and in those we meet?”
In Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale,
Frederick Buechner writes of the silence of Jesus in response to
Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” Buechner shares, “What Jesus lets
his silence say is that truth is what words can’t tell but only tell about, what images can only point to. The weight of these sad times is the weight of their eloquent silence…”
Sad times and Eloquent silence. These
four words more aptly capture the weight of glory and the darkness of
despair in a precious child who’s lost all hope and has no one to point
the way than anything I’ve ever considered. Often when meeting such a
child, I—the woman who loves words—find myself wordless. In the past I
have bitterly judged myself for not being a “good steward” of the people
God has led me to if I cannot share their stories and mobilize others
to help them. Gradually, I am learning silence is sacred and is the
first evidence of our looking to God, just as when Jesus was silent
before Pilate, the Stone-Throwers, His dead friend Lazarus. All His
words and actions came after the holy silence.
think part of my comfort in words is that they can easily help to size
up a problem and carve out a solution. Whereas all of life’s deepest
suffering comes not from the ABCDs of solvable, albeit complex, problems
(like the ones that if we do X then problem Y goes away) but rather
ones that defy human rectification, drive us to our knees, render us
powerless, and cause us to weep wordless prayers to a God whose ways are
not our own.
These broken moments of life are the
cracks in our walls where the real work of God takes place. The same
holes which we try to stuff with wordy prayers, until finally the
hammering story of another breaks through the mortar of our own and we,
at last, helplessly weep with another—unable to separate their tears
from our own puddling together at our feet. Then, and only then, our
holy water breaks and surrender is born.
How I wish you
were physically alongside us, feeling both the weight of glory and
darkness of despair which our children carry with resounding silence.
For now, I ask you to be with us and our children by taking time each
day to let the spoken and unspoken words of their lives mingle with your
own experience of needing to know God in the silence, and eventually
hear Him speak as well as see Him work in your life.
Love, your sister along the silent journey,
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