By Stephen W. Hiemstra
Sometimes we experience God in unexpected places.
How do we minister to those who no longer speak?
God tells Moses in the burning bush: I AM WHO I AM (Exod 3:14). In the Hebrew, the words are actually: אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה (Exodus 3:14 WTT). Literally, this means: I will be that I will be. God choses who He will be. We like to choose, but often don’t get to.
Notice that God does not tell us that being requires speaking.
If you think about it, we actually spend very little time during our lives speaking much of anything. Most of us sleep about eight hours every day. When we are young, we scream, we smile, we laugh, we cry, and we sleep a lot but we do not really say much of anything. When we are old, we revert to the sleeping mode again. But like God, we are present, but we are mostly silent.
The silence of God is both a blessing and a curse.
When God is silent, we are able to speak and find our voice. How would we ever grow as individuals, if God did all the talking? Our identities would be muted because God is all knowing and all powerful. But we know that God is not a big talker because heaven is full of singing. As we read in Revelations, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him saying: Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created (Revelations 4:10-11 ESV).
Yet, when God remains silent, we perish. The Psalmist writes: You have seen, O LORD; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me! (Psalm 35:22 ESV). The silence of God comes to us as judgment, in part, because He alone can act to save us from our own folly.
The Apostle Paul writes: For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Cor 1:22-25 ESV).
It seems foolish to us that God would speak to us mostly without words on the cross. Yet, in not speaking, He said everything.
For Alzheimer’s patients, singing and dancing are startlingly therapeutic. If you have a relative suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, try singing the Doxology (or any other familiar tune) to them and see for yourself.