Monday, June 4, 2012

Beach Lesson #1: Silence

“Be still and know that I am God" -Psalm 46:10 We absolutely love our trips to the beach. Every year, for over 20 years, we have taken regular trips down to the Alabama-Florida Gulf Coast for vacation. Jeanie and her sister Holly are best friends and our two families spend a week at the beach together. There are many things I love about these trips, but one of my favorites is the silence. You may not have known that the word "vacation" comes from the Latin word vacatio meaning "freedom from something." Of course, if we "vacate" something, it means we leave it or give it up. Unfortunately, in the crazy world we live in today, it's possible to take a vacation but never leave anything behind. We're "dumb" when we take the "smart" phones with us and never really relax. We had dinner with some friends a few weeks ago and one of them said, "Oh, I don't like taking vacations down at the beach. It's too boring just sitting there." Ironic, because my absolute favorite thing to do is to sit on the beach. No cell phone, no appointments, no agenda. Just me and God and the ocean. I need that time so badly. We all need it. My favorite time at the beach is in the morning when it's so quiet and the roar of the waves breaking fills the air. At any given moment, there may be a dozen waves breaking at the same time, but every now and then, all the waves break at the same time then, for a few seconds, the silence is deafening. I think I love the silence because my life is so loud. Like the volume turned high on our TV, we have so many competing sounds in our lives. The pressures of work, the expectations of a family, the voices of the media, and the words of our friends all speak to us. None are bad in themselves, but the combined noise can be deafening and distracting. In the midst of the noise, God, via the Holy Spirit, attempts to speak to us. If we're not careful, His voice can be drowned out by the seemingly more relevant voices. Like the breaking waves, the sounds can be garbled up into a mass of noises that are difficult to separate. No wonder we struggle to hear God's will when we're listening to multiple signals indicating the right way to go. But then it happens. We finally get alone with God- really alone with God and all the waves break at the same time. And the silence begins. And if we listen, we can hear the voice of God reminding us to be still. Not moving, not progressing, not organizing, not getting ahead, not controlling, but simply sitting. On the beach, in the chair, eyes closed, rested and at peace. Just being still. And God speaks volumes. Are we supposed to spend out lives sitting on a beach? Absolutely not. Jesus instructs us to "go." There is important work to be done. But His challenge is to sit on the beach as we go. That's what it means to "be still and know that He's God." So, let's remember to live lives of silence. Let's teach our kids to rest and listen to the silence. Let's let God speak and we'll be more content and at peace if we hear His words of grace. Thank you family and the Hallums for another wonderful time at the beach. And thank you Lord for Your gift of rest. And for speaking so loudly to me this week in the silence. By Eric Joseph Staples © www,

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