God Will Not Be Silenced

Photo by Tomas Anunziata in Pexels

We stood on the walkway, peering over the cement railing at the thrashing waves below. It was the last night of our team retreat, a retreat that almost didn’t happen since, within a few short months, our team had drastically dwindled down to just us two. An official team retreat seemed a bit extravagant, after all, when we were also roommates and friends that already spent a lot of time together. Considering the hardships from that semester, however, and the fact that we would soon be parting ways, we decided to go. The time of relaxation, reflection, and prayer for the future proved to be just what we needed.

Now we stood on the cobblestone pathway that final evening, soaking up the ocean breeze one last time as we watched the waves rhythmically roll toward the shore, gaining momentum and force as they raced toward us.

There is something mesmerizing about the ocean at night, where vast, open sky meets deep, dark sea. The waves are especially awe-inspiring after dark, a symphony in crescendo that is interrupted by thunderous applause as the waves burst into a frothy, white foam before retreating into the immense depths of salty sea.

Amid this magnificent show, I finally understood what was meant by the words from a worship song that was popular years ago.

Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name
Shout to the Lord by Darlene Zschech

That night, the ocean roared. It glorified God in all its wildness, strength, and intensity because it was doing exactly what God had intended it to do. And in that moment, I caught a better glimpse of who God was. I could see a reflection of His splendor, power, and might through those waves, and I realized so much more how the One who had created the ocean in all its ferociousness was utterly worthy of all my reverence and praise.

As we reluctantly stepped away from that sacred moment, I couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast between the ocean and the row of bars and night clubs on the opposite side of the road.  A dozen or so of these locales lined the street, a cacophony of noise flooding out of their windows and doors as a chaos of colors erupted forth from their pulsing neon lights.

The irony of of such a scene was not lost on me, and I wondered how many people left the ocean regretting the little time they had really spent on the beach due to the allure of places like those. I imagined that such establishments would always exist, ready to detour and distract people from the sea. Nonetheless, their distractive nature could not detract from the ocean’s majesty.  The waves would continue to roar and to reflect God’s glory in their strength, force, and consistency. Establishments would come and go, but the ocean would always remain, and it would never stop glorifying God in its wild beauty.

It has been over a decade that I went on that trip, but remembering what the immense waves revealed to me about God that day brings a lot of comfort to my heart as of late. The truth is, we live in a world that would not only distract and detour us from seeking God but would also increasingly seek to silence His Word and His moral law with each passing day. But just as the waves would not keep silent amidst competing voices, God will not be silenced. He cannot be contained. He cannot be confined. He will not be controlled or manipulated. Even in countries where Christianity is illegal and the church faces persecution, He is revealing Himself to individuals through dreams and other divine encounters for those who have yet to believe. No government, group, or any other thing can keep Him from accomplishing His purposes.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV

No matter how bad things may be (or may become) for believers, and no matter how much society may try to silence our testimony, God will not be silenced, and His Word cannot be destroyed. It will remain forever, and the church will continue to grow. The gates of hell shall not prevail against her (Matthew 16:18). Furthermore, when all is said and done, those who persecuted the church and tirelessly sought to silence God’s voice will be the very ones to kneel before Jesus and confess that He is Lord, alongside the entire world.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:9-11 ESV

God will not be silenced, so let’s be still and revel in the power, might, and strength of our God. He is still in control. He is always and forever in control.

Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:10 ESV

Building Towers

October proved to be a busy month. On top of family responsibilities, I tried to keep up with this blog and continue my attempts to help my younger brother write a book (you can read a brief idea about that here: https://anticipatingadventure.com/2020/01/21/remembering/). I also worked on creating an award-worthy recipe for a Christmas cookie contest I entered online and wrote an essay in hopes of having it published in a magazine for moms.

In the midst of the busyness, my toddler son started to ask me to play with him more, and I have complied. With COVID-19 restrictions and no siblings of his own, I feel sorry for him. I’m the only playmate he has most times, so I’m trying to actively engage in the moments when he asks me to play.

Liam is especially fond of building trains with his Duplo Legos, and although I can enjoy this activity to a certain degree, we always face some contention when we play with them together. Liam wants to build tall towers for each train car, and when I suggest to him that we create a better foundation first, he gets upset with me.

“No! No! No!” he exclaims as he snatches the Legos out of my hands and then rebuilds according to his liking. Inevitably, the teetering train cars come tumbling down at some point, and Liam is left feeling upset. It’s the frustrating pattern we follow each time we play, no matter how much I try to reason with him in order to avoid the train’s demise.

After a few days of following this routine, I could sense God teaching me a greater lesson through it, and I began to feel convicted by my own hypocrisy. While I was urging Liam to build a better foundation, I had been ignoring my own. My quiet times had become shorter and were getting pushed later into the day, even to the extent that I skipped a few a couple of times. In my own attempts to build something impressive out of my life, I had neglected my own foundation, and the fruits of my labor were now threatening to come crashing down like my son’s Lego trains. It brought the following Bible verse to mind:

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchmen stays awake in vain.”

Psalms 127:1

Looking back on the month of October, I can see that I spent a good chunk of it laboring in vain. I didn’t tend to my foundation by spending time with God in the first hours of the morning, nor did I seek out His wisdom or guidance in how or what to “build” each day. Instead, I began the projects of October with my own agenda in mind.

I couldn’t help but think about the Tower of Babel as described in Genesis 11 when I considered all of this. The people set out to build a tower that would reach to the heavens in hopes of making a name for themselves. They wanted to seek their own glory and thought this tower would do the trick. God thwarted their plans, however, and the tower was left unfinished. He would not share His glory with another.

Much like the people from the Tower of Babel, I find myself seeking my own glory all too often, attempting to build tall towers of my own. It’s a struggle that I have to fight against daily, especially when it comes to writing. God has been gracious to me, however, in that He allows me to experience writer’s block quite a bit. I’m beginning to see it as a gift from Him because it’s the exact thing I have needed to recognize when my motives have become self-centered, and it’s precisely what makes me repent and ask God to help me write for His glory.

Nonetheless, I believe that I could avoid this pattern more if I were to earnestly begin my day in God’s Word and surrender my desires, thoughts, plans, and dreams to Him each morning. After all, any of my labor towards any of these things is only in vain if God is not in it, and He has not placed me or any of us on this earth to fulfill our own purposes.

God created us to glorify Him, and He has prepared good works in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), so we need to seek His face each day so that He can build up His kingdom through our lives. Because, unless He builds the house, all other labor is in vain. It is nothing more than teetering Lego train cars without a foundation set in Him.