Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The High Cost of Silence

I am so enjoying the Esther study by Beth Moore—you would too. But every now and again, as studying will do, you get your toes stepped on or your nose bloodied, depending on which is bigger your nose or your toes! I felt it once again this week. It is amazing how scripture can do that. It only confirms the power of scripture. By the mere reading of the words, you can feel the impact from top to bottom.

As I prepare for the retreat, my mind is filled with truths that I am eager to share. Yet I barely want to share them because they all go together, and I can hardly pull out one to write about for now. The closer it gets, the more protective I am of all that I have been thinking, so as not to lose these thoughts before I speak them. Isn’t that funny? I can see why Buddy gets quiet and needs to be alone on Saturday nights. I think I could go into hibernation over getting my thoughts together for the three sessions I will be sharing. For more than two months, I have studied and thought and prayed. It is not as if just this week I am just getting around to it, but because of that, I have not worked on this writing like I would have liked to in my dream world of extra time—no such place exists down here!

So with that said, along with the crazy-busy past two weeks of company, hosting the Common Ground conference, and the addition of this week’s retreat, ramble with me through some thoughts I have not fully developed. Rather come with me on the adventure of thought and processing. I usually try to do this before I write, but since I am painfully transparent at times, I thought I may as well just take you along with me as I sort out some truths that have really hit me as I think them through, search them over, and pray that God sheds His marvelous light on it all. So come along this week on some thoughts that have been rattling around. Don’t expect it to be a great writing, but more like sitting over coffee chatting. That way, I have no pressure, and you have no expectations other than time spent together. Thanks for giving me the freedom to let me be where I am rather than expecting me to have arrived. We are all in process, and at times it is more evident than others, so there is no use in trying to act like I have it all together. I don’t. But I do like the journey. I like the process of thinking truth through and filtering it over and over to see what comes out.

One of the first real dates Buddy and I went on was panning for gold up in Dahlonega, Georgia. They give you a mining pan and show you where to dig in. Then you take the time to sift your pan back and forth to expose any nuggets of gold that may have been in the mix. It was fun to see. Certainly we could have gone and bought pieces already dug polished and cleaned, even made into something. But there was real fun in just panning to see what we found personally and together. The Bible offers more treasure than we can imagine. Sometimes it has been dug and cleaned and formed into something beautiful to enjoy, but other times it is the fun of discovery. So what do you say we pan together and see what God exposes? And no mountain roads to get there—and no Dramamine needed! Just opening His word takes us to places unknown and yet as close as your own heart.

These are just pieces in my pan…in Esther 4 there is the famous verse that is so wonderful and powerful that you no doubt have heard or read…“for such a time as this” found in verse 17. But what has my attention is the beginning of that same verse… “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this?” Our silence may not always be golden. We may have been called to speak out, to warn, or to blow the trumpet.

When we were in Krakow a couple of months ago, we heard again of the famous story of the trumpeter of Krakow. Perhaps you have heard or read of a book by that name. The story goes that along the walls of the city, men were stationed to alert the city dwellers of the approaching visitors. If any were suspicious, or a conquering army was approaching, they would blow a trumpet to announce the impending danger so as to give men warning to arm themselves and for the women and children to take shelter. As one trumpeter sounded the alarm, an arrow shot him. But - he saved the city. Still hundreds of years later, in his honor, they blow a trumpet every hour, day and night. It is never a recording, but always done in person seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. Oddly, they do not play the entire alarm, but only as far as he got before he was pierced through with the arrow. It is a very noticeable event yet today; people gather on the square to hear the trumpet sound. You can tell that it is abruptly ended without the full version. The first time I heard it, I thought there had been a mistake until I understood the history behind it. My ears understood it was unfinished, but my heart had no idea of the sacrifice it heralded.

For some of us, our alarm has not been honored and celebrated, and so we slowly lose our warning, forgetting the importance of the message and the critical role we play as watchmen on the wall. We have forsaken our job and become involved with numerous other wall-related activities. Painting the wall, or maintaining the wall, or giving wall tours, but not blowing the trumpet—thus many enemies have entered and ravaged our homes, our cities, our neighborhoods until they lie in ruin. The rubble of brokenness in epidemic proportions—perhaps even pandemic proportions are signs that we have not heralded the message loud or clear. While we’ve been busy making the message about buildings and denominations and methods and styles of music, we’ve forgotten our mission. And as a result, our cities suffer, our homes are destroyed, and our children are without parents.

Please be aware that to make no decision IS to make a decision. Perhaps you believe, but you have not been moved to action. The very fact that that you do not act—has indeed become an act. It may result in the hurt or harm of many. Our silence may allow much to go on that we object to but have not voice our opinion. Mayor Shirley Franklin, of Atlanta, has called upon the churches of Atlanta to arise and cry out against the sex trafficking and the child prostitution. She has said that without the voice of the masses to object and show their moral outrage, little can or will be done. Where is the outrage? In the name of tolerance we have succumbed, submitted, and surrendered to silence.

Notice the verse says, “Relief and deliverance will arise from another place” (emphasis mine). I am glad that relief will come and that someone would bring it, but why not get to be part of it? I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. I want to be aligned with the problem solvers, not the problem makers! I want our kids to have vision, to make the world a better place, to bring about change, and to see what answers they can come up with. Let’s ask God to let us be part of the place from which comes relief and deliverance. Don’t you think so?

It goes on to say, “And you and your father’s house will perish.” If we do not become part of the solution, it does not mean that we get off scot-free. If we do nothing, we do not remain unaffected. It says we and our family dies. Here is a thought: often when we hear, “Honor your father and your mother” we get some crazy picture in our head that we have “to obey forever” what our parents tell us to do—we are manipulated by guilt as adults by our parents. I believe that the best way to honor your parents is to be a good parent yourself! I realized that sometimes saying no to my mom was the best way to honor her. To make my family the priority and not get guilted into making her my priority took some doing. But I realized that to make your own family the best it can be is the best honor you could give your parents. That was years before my kids were even married, but now even more so. Now that they are married and are parents themselves, I pray they will be the best parents ever. I want those precious grandbabies to have wonderful parents who love them and understand them and build them up to be all that God has intended for their lives. Far more than I want my kids to say I was a good parent—I want them to be a good parent. That is what would honor me the most. Don’t let your parents manipulate you and guilt you into things that will only cause the dysfunction to continue on generationally and not really bring honor to them at all.

I warned you these were random thoughts so what can I say? Back to this verse…

“And who knows (emphasis mine) whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Beth makes this point so well, as only she can do with her wide eyed “WHO KNOWS? Who knows? What do you mean, who knows? I need somebody to KNOW!” Boy can you agree with that? I’ll say! We need some one to know. We do not have a chance to redo life—this is it, so we need more than, “Who knows?” We need HE KNOWS. And He does—what a relief. Remember the old Rolaids commercials… “How do you spell relief?” We can spell it… G-O-D. That’s it. In the midst of chaos and impending doom, there IS One who knows. Whether my thoughts are together or reeling from place to place. He knows. Whether my weeks include dinner for 40-50 people every night for a week, or dinner for two. He knows. Whether you have just lost a loved one, miscarried a precious baby, are contemplating leaving your spouse and family that share your DNA, lost your job, just heard the doctor announce a potentially fatal disease, or just feel overwhelmed with raising little ones through flu’s, colds and disobedience (like how about a antibiotic for that?) or teens with hormones and hang ups. Who knows? HE DOES!

Take heart that all that has gone on in you up to now is not an excuse for you to bail out—it is for such a time as this! He has known what to put into you to make you get through this all along. What you are facing is no surprise to Him. You can get through this time. To bail now will just make you miss out on the blessings ahead. It is Satan sabotaging your success. Jesus, unlike us, never starts something and lets it go unfinished. “He who began a good work in you will continue…” Don’t give up. He knows and He has you where you can make a difference. He can fix that marriage; He can fix that emptiness. For a matter of fact, ONLY He can! Running won’t stop it, another man will not solve it; leaving your kids to be raised by another woman can’t possibly be what God meant for them. You are meant to fulfill your role, but you need help, I know. And He will help. Stop and get help. It is there. Putting it off will only delay it, not fix it. Like in a balloon, you can push it out from one area, but it pops out somewhere else.

I love in the close of Revelation where it says in its final comments “COME.” It doesn’t say it once, but three times! Three times in one verse it says, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let any one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” To not take it will cost you plenty. A price you should not risk to pay for He KNOWS and it is for such a time as this that He has prepared YOU. Just come right where you are, He waits for you…

Dear God in heaven, only You know and we are so thankful You do! Please give a voice to those who will trumpet out that You know and care. Give strength to those who need You this day to bring relief to the places You have put them. Do something that only a Mighty God can do. May You be honored and glorified and Your name be lifted high.

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