It's one of those stormy fall days when the midday sky looks dark enough to be dusk, and when the rain comes down in sheets and the wind whips soggy maple leaves across the yard. After clearer and colder days, the air feels downright balmy at almost-sixty degrees. Besides the clapping of leaves and the occasional roar of raindrops on the roof when the torrents increase, my life is silent.
And I've noticed that in the silence, God often speaks.
Have you ever asked God something, prayed about a difficult quandary, only say amen and turn up the car radio or flick on the TV or stick your earbuds in to listen to the next podcast in the queue? Gosh, I do it all the time. I ask God one of those hard questions, one of the "why" or the "how" or the "when" questions, and then I all but hang up on Him in the middle of His response. I can sense the self-sabotage, and yet I'm addicted to the noise. Maybe I think that if I don't hear His answer I can keep blaming Him for my inaction. You know, the old, "I'm waiting to hear from God" or "I'm still praying about it" that keep you comfortably doing nothing at all.
Peter said in his first epistle, "Prepare your minds for action" (1 Peter 1:13a). We know from the Gospels that Peter was a man of action - he often stuck his neck out where others weren't willing, so it's apt that he would be the one admonishing us away from passivity.
But when I looked up this verse in the Greek lexicon, I was confused. The phrase "for action" doesn't appear to actually exist in the text - the lexicon lumps it with the next phrase in the verse, "keep sober in spirit." So I switched to the interlinear and found out why: Apparently, "Prepare your minds for action" is a poor English translation of a common Biblical idiom. Quite literally, it says, "Having girded up the loins of your mind." The potential for action is implied in the idiom: when you gird up your loins, it means you're ready to move (like Elijah fleeing from Ahab in 1 Kings 18:46).
Prepare your minds for action. Gird up the loins of your mind. Get ready to DO something.
It's hard to do much of anything when you're tripping all over yourself. You have to pick up your figurative robes and get them out of your way.
Do we want to hear God speak? Do we want to see Him send us into amazing Kingdom work? Do we want to walk with Him intimately, like friends?
Then we need to be diligent to remove the things that dull our senses and make us lose our footing in the race.
For me, it's noise. It's choosing to turn on the car radio because praying feels like work. It's hours of mindless Netflix reruns because I'm tired of thinking. It's using podcasts (often excellent Bible-teaching podcasts) as a holy-sounding excuse for not actually giving God a word in edgewise.
Hebrews 11 is a long and amazing list of individuals who lived for God (and, in many cases, died for Him too). They all have one thing in common: action. They chose not just to believe in, but to act on the truth of who God is and the lives He had called them to live. We are invited to do the same.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
- Hebrews 12:1-2
Today, my life is silent. And God is speaking.
It is good to hear His voice.
It is good to see Him work.
It is good to be back in the race.
Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD; for He is aroused from His holy habitation.
- Zechariah 2:13