Silence can sometimes be deafening. The absence of noise. Sometimes it is exiting a room full of noise into the quiet that it hits you. You are more aware of the quiet, of the silence. Walking out of a happy and chatty classroom this morning and reaching the quiet of my car the silence was distinct and noticeable.
Silence. Loud in its absence of noise.
Imagine then the silence from God for 400 years. Generations growing up not hearing the Word of God. No sign, no word, no communication. The challenge of keeping the faith by remembering the testimonies of their forefathers but without a personal experience themselves. For us the transition from Old Testament to New Testament is a mere page, blank except for the words “New Testament”. It doesn’t convey at all the significance of those 400 years of silence.
Silence from God.
But then after 400 years of silence, the cry of a baby heralded a new era, a new day. God with us – Emmanuel. Silence broken. God close. God had moved into the neighbourhood.
Our progression through Advent – waiting, expectant, hopeful – for Christmas, reminds us of a people, a world who waited and waited for God to fulfil His promises, His prophesies. Christmas reminds us that no matter the wait we endure God is true to His promises and fulfils them. We are reminded of what He has already done and what He has promised to do.
Christmas gives us hope. It means that if we feel life has us placed on a blank page – waiting for silence to be broken – we can know that God will fulfil every promise to us.
“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)
“But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7)
Hang in there. The page might be turning.
If you have ever travelled on the Underground in London you will be familiar with the signs and announcements telling you to mind the gap. Reminders to be careful of the gap that exists between the platform and the train you are about to embark on. One of my friends though didn’t so much mind the gap as find the gap! She slipped and partly fell down the gap and had to be rescued from the semi decorous position she found herself in. In her words she says she did not drop her coffee or even spill it!
In life at some point we all transverse a gap. The gap being the space of time between the promise from God and its fulfilment. And it is good to take some advice from London’s Underground and pay attention to how we “mind the gap”.
It is this gap that we can end up in disillusionment, discouragement and despair. But it is also in this place that we can thrive. Martin Crowe, a legendary New Zealand cricket player, wrote this on his blog about the game of cricket – “This is the space between thoughts, between breaths, between fielders, between balls. They say to experience the gap wholly brings ultimate joy in what we do. In the gap there is nothing, and it’s that nothing space in which lies the secret to our purpose.”
For us, not on the field cricketers, the gap is where our character is burnished, our faith stretched and our heart strengthened. We need to remind ourselves that the gap is a place to pass through, to walk over, not our final destination. The gap is, yes as Martin Crowe said, the space between. It’s the wilderness between the Word and the Promised Land, the prison between the promise and the palace. It’s the barrenness between the Word and the birth of Issac.
Losers focus on what they are going through, champions focus on where they are going to! There is no victory without a battle, no sunrise without a midnight and no tunnel without light at the end! So if you’re in the gap, keep your focus on the destination!
Hang in there. Run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up. (Bear Grylls)
Whatever you do, mind the gap!