Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

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What About that Silent Night?

Silent night,

Holy night,

All is calm, 

All is bright

As my daughter led the congregation in worship with these words, my heart was heavy and burdened. Yes, it's that time where we celebrate the peace brought into the world by our Savior, God incarnate who came into the world as a precious baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. Yet, my heart is heavy and burdened by situations and chaos swirling around me.

Unjustified attacks because I'm trying to do what is right.

Anxiety of a new position at work.

Past hurts returning in new ways.

Fears for wayward loved ones.

Last minute preparations for Christmas.

And so much more...

Where, oh where, is the silence we sing about in those ancient words? My heart aches for the silence, the peace, we imagine on that day so many years ago when our Savior was born.

As I sat in the service and meditated on those thoughts, it struck me: that night was just as chaotic and heavy as the ones I face today. 

People coming from far and wide to register for a census.

The hustle and bustle of a town overflowing so there was no room.

A young couple thrust into a life-altering situation.

Accusations from others who didn't know the full truth.

Fears of an unknown future.

Our precious Jesus was born into a time of chaos, just like the one we face today. Mary and Joseph were likely the subject of the town gossips, with attacks on their character. The town was frantic as everyone attempted to comply with Caesar Augustus's census. 

So much movement.

So much unknown.

So much busyness.

Where was the silent night we sing of every Christmas?

The silence was in the manger, sleeping soundly in spite of the chaos. He was the baby sent for our sins. He was the portrait of peace in the midst of the unknown.

You see, the night itself wasn't silent. But that beautiful baby brought the peace.

And He is still bringing the peace and the silence to our hearts today.

Maybe, like me, your life if far from silent right now. Maybe, like me, you are struggling to find the true Christmas spirit in the midst of your busyness. Maybe, like me, you need to take a few minutes to find the baby in the manger so you can also find that silent night for which your soul longs.

Maybe the silent night is found within our hearts as we seek that tiny baby sent for you and me.

You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3

Where is your mind? Where are your thoughts? Are they fixed on Him? I can tell you with all honesty that mine have not been focused on Him. I am making a conscious effort every time my mind starts wandering down that path of rehearsing current or past hurts to stop and ask God to help me take my thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). I may pray that prayer five or six times in a row, but eventually my Father helps me change my thoughts to those that are fixed on Him. 

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:6-8

Prayer. Prayer is such a comforting time. It's that time in my life when my heart is connecting with the heart of the Father, when I seek to come into His presence to share my deepest thoughts and hear His voice to me. I am working on taking everything to Him in prayer, to thank Him for the answers even when I don't see them yet. I am striving to fix my thoughts on those things that are directly from Him.

Do you see that word fix in both of these passages? The English definition is to fasten securely in a particular place or position, to decide or settle on something. We would all do well to fasten our minds securely on Him, to settle in our hearts that we are going to live His way. Scripture teaches us that's when we find the silent night we seek.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfectRomans 12:2

Scripture teaches the power of the mind, specifically the power of being transformed by our minds through training our minds to think on those things that point us back to Him. It's an act of sacrifice, of surrendering our will to His. It's an act of being crucified in Him (Galatians 2:20), of losing every ounce of our being in Him. 

And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Deuteronomy 6:6-8

Our Savior is jealous. He wants to be invited into every activity of our daily lives, whether it be eating or drinking or sleeping or working. He longs to be part of even the most mundane of tasks in this life. It's often in the mundane details we experience His joy and His silence when we follow His commands, when we bring Him into the minute details of life, when we lose every ounce of our being to Him. Maybe it's through praise music playing at your desk or a scripture posted on your computer or a reminder of His goodness at the laundry. Maybe it's through timers set on your phone to bring you back to where He wants you. Whatever it is for you, find ways to bring Him into your everyday, ordinary life if you want to find the silent night He offers.

The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm. Exodus 14:14

Sometimes in the chaos we simply need the reminder that He is our Defender, the One fighting these battles for us. I find myself repeatedly offering my burdens to Him, asking Him to take them (1 Peter 5:7). It seems I repeatedly pick them up again, but I repeat the cycle knowing I will eventually give them to Him completely. That's when He can fight for me. He's a much better warrior than I.

Be still in the presence of the Lord,
    and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
    or fret about their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:7

What a beautiful reminder that He is working, even in the silence, that at His time (which is always just the right time), He will act. What peace those words bring to the troubled heart!

This week, I realized the silent night we seek is available--to each one of us as Give Him access to every hidden thought and every piece of our hearts. There was a silent night that is still available to us--every single day of the year and not just at Christmas. There is a silent night--thanks to the One who came in human form to be the offering for our sins.

Have you found the silence? If not, let's all bow together and ask Him to silence our hearts and minds before Him.

Father, this life is hard. We know you understand because you sent your Son to experience life in human form so you could relate to us in our human condition. Everything in this life clamors for our attention, drawing us away from you and from that silent, peaceful night we sing about at Christmas. Show us. Show us the silence as we strive to draw near to you. Pour out your peace on us as we seek to lose every ounce of our lives in you. Our hearts long for you. May our minds be transformed in you as well. In Jesus's name we pray, amen.