In my Bible between the Old and New Testament is one single sheet of tissue-thin blank paper. One page. I can flip past it in the blink of an eye, which is deceptive, because that single sheet of empty paper represents 400 years of silence. 400 years of wondering. 400 years of questions.
Will rescue come?
Will love come down?
Will God ever speak again?
Silent years are hard years. Silence can drive a person mad. Laugh with me, cry with me, correct me and even yell at me, but don't give me the silent treatment. I can't handle that.
But that's exactly what God gave to the Israelites; silence. For 400 years.
I wish we knew what they did in the waiting. How they processed the ceasing of His voice and instruction. Did they grieve? Did they jump through hoops trying to make Him talk? Did the blame themselves? Blame God? Draw closer to Him or shrink away? We don't know. All we have is a blank sheet of paper filled with silence.
I wonder how many years passed before they began to believe that maybe He would never speak again. Did they quit straining to hear his voice? Did they sit around and talk about what it would be like to hear Him again? Did they place bets on how it would happen; through a prophet or a burning bush or a talking donkey or a thunderous sky? Did they look for Him in all the obvious places? And then start looking for Him in the obscure?
Did they expect a baby and a teenage girl and a carpenter would be the vessel that carried the Word of God into the silent world?
Did they ever expect for love to come down to them?
We're often told when we can't hear God to press in, to push through, to pray harder, read more, to seek and knock until we wear ourselves out with the seeking. And I do believe that there are seasons when that is exactly what we need to do. But sometimes, in seasons of silence, maybe what we need to do most of all is simply wait. To quiet our hearts, and still our striving, and hope beyond reason that the gospel is true and that the silent God is also a loving God who is willing to come to us in the dark quiet places and wrap arms of love around us... right where we are.
The story of Christmas isn't that we chose to come to God, but that God chose to come to us.
And so maybe today, in our own maddening silence, in our own place of questioning and wondering and waiting... maybe today we can stop. Stop striving and begging and chasing after god. Stop thinking that we're doing everything wrong, and just rest in the reality that a blank piece of paper and 400 years of silence is part of the Bible too, and that our seasons of silence might be part of the story that God is writing in us as well. Maybe instead of filling the silence we can just be here and hope beyond reason that at the right time and in the right way love will come down and rescue us.