“How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.”
I have sung this line countless times during the Christmas season. Taken from the 3rd verse of “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” this line evokes in me both wonder and awe. The greatest gift God ever gave to the human race came when no one was looking. It came in a tiny occupied country of the mighty Roman Empire and in an obscure town in that country. It came without human prompting or negotiation like great historical events do. Without pomp and splendor as with important leaders or kings. It came without fanfare or crowds, without spotlights or ads. It came in the most unlikely of places hidden from everyone: “And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them” (Luke 2:7).
It came in silence. The Son of God came in silence.
Another one of our well-known Christmas hymns puts it this way:
“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.”
It seems that God does His best work in silence.
But the world of men is one of noise. It is filled with hustle and bustle, phone calls and meetings, striving and jostling. Add to that the interior noise of the mind: the competing and comparing, the worrying and scheming. I would hope that the Christmas season would help matters, but I know this is not the case. If anything, the noise level gets turned up to a deafening roar with year-end deadlines and mall traffic jams. To push back against this seems like a herculean task. It seems futile. Is it even worth it?
I think it is. God still does His best work in silence just as He did that first Christmas. In silence, we set aside the exterior noise of the world. In silence, we seek to quiet the interior noise in our minds. As the silence deepens, we become aware of His presence, listening for His voice, submissive to His Word. The anxieties and stresses drop off like unwanted cargo. And underneath it all, we sense the love that sent that Son to Bethlehem, the love that calls us sons, the love that longs for us to call Him, “Abba, Daddy.”
If you can find some space and time to be silent during Advent, it will be the best Christmas gift you can receive. You will find Jesus being born anew inside of you. You will find His life renewing you. And you will find His presence healing you. It will evoke both wonder and awe. Yes, you are becoming the man He had in mind. You are becoming like Him, that mighty King.
This is the best work God does in Christ.
And He does it in silence.
Bill Delvaux is a graduate of Duke University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has been a church planter, a high school Bible teacher, and a running coach. Six years ago, he pioneered Landmark Journey Ministries to help men connect their stories to God’s story through retreats and spiritual direction. His newest book, Heroic: The Surprising Path to Manhood, will be released in April 2019. His greatest claim to fame is being married to Heidi for 32 years and having two amazing daughters, Abigail, and Rachel. He and his wife currently reside in Franklin, TN.
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