I saw a story recently on the news about a new rule for soccer playing. I believe it was in the state of South Carolina. It involved youth soccer and parents and/or guardians will no longer be allowed to offer their commentary on the sideline while their player is at work. Instead, they must remain silent, extending neither praise nor critique while the game is underway. Of course, parents, as well as players find themselves on either side of field so to speak regarding the issue, yet it prompted me to consider the extent to which we can be successful, or rather persevere amidst the silence.
We serve a big God! He created the earth! He created us for the purpose of worship! He gave wo(man) the knowledge to invent and solve problems and design methodologies to enhance the quality of our life. Yet interestingly enough, many of the conveniences we enjoy and can’t imagine living without were likely birthed when God said not a word. Certainly, we can count on either the urging or negligence of people – because we can’t help it, we can just be down right fickle. Remember Job’s friends? Can you imagine someone coming over to your house and sitting for days without saying a mumbling word? Or better still, the friend that offers you the choice to curse God and die, as in Job’s wife? Nevertheless, we must set our face like flint (Isaiah 50:7) and trust God whether he is speaking or silent.
As in the soccer players, they may have become accustomed to the motivational speaking from their supporters – whether it be positive or not so much. We too can become dependent upon those around us to propel us to our perceived greatness. We can also become reliant upon others to give us what we should become familiar with doing on our own. Jesus’ sacrifice enabled each of us to have a personal relationship with the Father. We must be careful and intentional to pursue such independent of those who may have introduced us to Christ at the onset. We must further minimize our expectation for people to cheer us on or even rebuke us, because in the final analysis, they are navigating to finish the game just like us. Although perhaps more or less seasoned than we are, they still must get the ball to the end of the field just like us.
What happens when God is silent on the field? Well, we may believe that he is displeased, and that may cause us to question our steps. Proverbs 3:5 decrees, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” We must constantly drill the Word of the Lord inside of us to drive out our understanding, which is limited, inaccurate and often times, just downright wrong. We must learn to trust God in the silence. Imagine the soccer players. They’ve likely become accustomed to hearing the shouts of encouragement or otherwise from the sidelines. Perhaps it has been motivating or even disabling, but nevertheless, they’ve become use to the noise. Now, they must invest in paradigm shift. It doesn’t mean they should give up the sport. No, instead, its a valuable lesson, to learn to move and continue when no one is saying anything, neither encouragement or negativity.
The same is true for our relationship with our Heavenly Father. At times, we are certain of what we hear from him. We take assurance in said affirmation. At other times, we are being reprimanded for our action, or even refusal to act. Either of these examples provide some form of assurance. Yet the difficulty is continuing to move when there is silence on the field, when we don’t see or hear him in the wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire, but in the small still voice (I Kings 19:11-12), as we make room for him to dwell inside of us.
May we cease from seeking superficial support, infused with chatter as evidence of God’s approval. May we instead take hope in the fact that we serve a God that is maturing us to seek less accolades from people and instead more boldness through him to live, move and have our being amidst the noise or the silence. Let’s play!