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When God is Silent as Light

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Posted: 2/8/16 at 9:15am. Column by Ed Jordan.

There I was standing in church Sunday before last, singing “Immortal, invisible, God only wise,” a hymn from a different era, written in the early 1800s by Walter Chalmers Smith. Some would think that such an archaic song would be pointless and irrelevant.

But as I sang with the congregation the second verse, a couple of phrases sent reverberations through my mind and soul. The words that struck such a chord in my soul were the beautifully crafted words:

“Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light;
Nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might …”

God is never disengaged, never being a couch potato.

What a wonderful description of God. God is never disengaged, never being a couch potato. He is unresting, never growing weary, nor falling asleep on the job. His eye is always alert to the needs of those who love Him, and He is tireless in taking care of us.

But the second word is profound as well. God is unhasting, a very old word for never hurried, and also for being very deliberate. God is deliberate, and He accomplishes what He sets out to accomplish. He has a purpose for the things He does. In regard to this, God is neither hurried nor late.

Since He sees and knows everything, no situation sneaks up on Him to force Him to scramble and hurry to get something done. This is an encouraging word for many of us today. The country is chaotic, as is the world. It seems to be flying apart at the seams. Nevertheless, God is still watching over those who love Him, and is not in panic mode.

The next phrase, “silent as light,” was the one that exploded with beauty and meaning for me.  What a beautiful way to describe the activity of God. In the midst of chaos, darkness and confusion, God is silent as light. Some of the times my parents communicated to me the most strongly, were when they sat silently looking at me with disappointment in their eyes.

There are times when the loudest message comes through in the stillness of silence. But even when it seems that God is silent and not speaking, we should not presume that God is inactive. As we noted, God is alert and active in even the silent times of our lives.

But think of the entire word picture in this hymn line. There are times when God is silent as light. Have you ever heard natural light say anything? Perhaps it could be when the sun is shining on a frozen puddle or lake, and the ice begins to thaw. We may hear the ice cracking as it begins to break up. But the noise is the result of the light, not the sound of the light.

Most of the time when light dispels the darkness of the night, the light itself simply comes and changes the world, while remaining silent. When the morning light floods my kitchen, there is no apparent sound in the event, but the whole room changes.

In the same way, Jesus said that He is the Light of the world, that those who follow Him will not live in darkness, and Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV): “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

But when we invite Jesus to come live within us, He comes in, sometimes as silently as the arrival of light.

When we invite Christ to come live in our lives, the Light of God comes into us to show us His glory and light in the face of Jesus. It is not always a loud experience. But when we invite Jesus to come live within us, He comes in, sometimes as silently as the arrival of light.

I wonder what God is doing right now in your life situation to bring light to some gloomy scenario? Does light have to be noisy to work? Does it need to talk your ear off to turn dark to light? Does it need to make explosive sounds to change the mood of your life or environment? God often is working as silently as light.

Give some thought to how God is active and working in your life today, perhaps in ways that are silent as light. Maybe we need to consider that sometimes silence is the voice of God, and that often the shining of God’s light into our daily lives is itself evidence of His presence and activity. God often works as silent as light.

ed-jordan2Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. You may also read his past columns.

He can be reached at szent.edward@gmail.com.