Posted by: rcottrill | June 7, 2017

God Is Waiting in the Silence

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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Oswald Jeffrey Smith (b. Nov. 8, 1889; d. Jan. 25, 1986)
Music: Bentley DeForest Ackley (b. Sept. 27, 1872; d. Sept. 3, 1958)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Oswald Smith)
The Cyber Hymnal (Oswald Smith)
Hymnary.org

Note: Many years ago I heard a friend sing this song as a solo, and it deeply impressed me. I thought it might be a great way to begin a worship service, to simply stand up and sing it, reminding people that God is there, and He is waiting for a response from us. So I decided to use it in this way, one Sunday morning.

It didn’t work. I don’t know what your church is like, but in this particular service, babies were squawking, and adults were still talking. Some late arrivals were finding seats. There was anything but “silence,” and the mood and message of the hymn was all but extinguished. In our present church, it might work better just before the Bible message, after the children have been dismissed to Children’s Church.

The play has received a great deal of comment and criticism over the six decades since Samuel Beckett wrote it. It has been called brilliant, labeled absurd, and condemned as vulgar. Take your pick.

Waiting for Godot is performed on a stage devoid of scenery, except for a tree and a rock. The two main characters, threadbare tramps, converse, as they wait for someone named Godot. Three other characters come along and enter the rambling discussion.

That’s it. Godot never appears. In fact Beckett confessed he not only didn’t know who Godot was, he wasn’t even sure he existed. So, what’s the point? That question has led to endless speculation. Is the dark drama a picture of political confusion? Of Freudian psychology? Or a mockery of religion? One guess seems as good as another, though Beckett said the meaning is simple, and he was surprised so many didn’t get it.

The ragged hobos are likely hoping for a handout from Godot. If only he would come, he’d surely help them out. But he is never going to come. Whatever else is intended by it, the play, it seems to me, presents a hopeless view of life–that we’re all bereft beggars, looking for something that never materializes. And life has no meaning, our existence is only a brief vanity. As one character in the play puts it, “They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.”

That’s rather like the view expressed in Ecclesiastes. That this mortal life “under the sun” is vanity–an empty nothing (Ecc. 1:1-2), an endless round of birth and death, planting and harvesting, gain and loss, round and round (Ecc. 3:1-8). But the difference between Beckett’s view and that of Solomon is that the latter provided an antidote for hopelessness. He was describing the dead-end street followed by secular man, but assures us there is a better road. When we factor in God and eternity, the present is invested with new meaning and a living hope (Ecc. 12:13-14), a hope anchored, after Solomon’s time, in the finished work of Christ (I Pet. 1:3).

What are we waiting for? What are we expecting out of life? While so many are waiting and watching for some fantasy helper, God is waiting for them, and seeking for them.

“God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God” (Ps. 53:2). “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (Jn. 4:23). “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine [fellowship] with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).

In 1938, Canadian pastor and hymn writer Oswald Jeffrey Smith published this beautiful worship hymn expressing the thought that God is waiting, and earnestly desiring, those who will respond to His loving call. Though there is, in His Word, a call for sinners to trust in Christ and be saved, this song is also a call to professing Christians to get serious about living for God.

1) God is waiting in the silence,
For a heart that He can fill;
He must find it cleansed and empty,
With a spirit calm and still.

God is waiting in the silence,
Oh, to know that He is near!
Earth recedes and heaven opens,
God is waiting, God is here.

3) God is waiting in the silence,
As the world goes rushing by;
Will not someone stop and listen,
Answer quickly, “Here am I”?

Mike Martin was a Christian, but a rather lukewarm one. As he himself put it, he was “not working at it.” Then one day he heard Smith’s song over the radio–“Will not someone stop and listen, answer quickly, ‘Here am I’?” And Mike, deeply convicted, spoke to the radio, “Lord, I’m coming now. You don’t have to wait any longer.”

From that day on he became an active and ardent servant of God. He founded a youth organization in Seattle, called King’s Teens, to help troubled young people. He was involved in starting a Christian radio station, and a Christian publisher, along with youth camps and other ministries. Through his efforts the Lord blessed and transformed thousands of lives.

Like Mike, none of us has to wait any longer to respond to God’s call. He is not a hopeless fantasy like Godot. The Lord will be the Saviour of all who will call on Him in faith (Rom. 10:13), and He stands ready to direct and empower our service through His Spirit.

Questions:
1) What do you believe God is waiting on you to do today?

2) How will you respond to His will for you?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Oswald Smith)
The Cyber Hymnal (Oswald Smith)
Hymnary.org


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