At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight.” Daniel 6:19-22 (NIV)
I make my living with words. For all that I love researching our community’s past, it doesn’t do me any good to hoard my findings. I enjoy writing articles and press releases to tell the stories I discover. I also look forward to opportunities to speak and share in person tales of hardship, joy and courage. Despite the knot of nerves in my stomach prior to standing before a group, once I get started, I feed off their reactions and the emotions I draw from them. I also help to earn the dollars that pay my salary with grant applications that I write. Describing our work and why someone should invest in it can be temporarily stressful, but rewarding when the checks arrive. Until time to repay those grants with pages and pages of reports and forms! I also live by my words. Not just this blog where I record the ways I see God at work in my life and encourage others to do the same. But, in conversations with friends which are sprinkled with advice, love and cheer. Strangers are not exempt from my advice. I have been known to strike up a conversation in the grocery store recommending products as though I am in charge of sales. It is an odd mix for inside I am an introvert preferring to keep to myself and live a life of solitude, but something compels me to express myself and talk. To whoever is around. So, it is with both a sense of humor and dismay that I am finding in this stage of my life, that many times, I am being called by God not to speak up for Him, but to be quiet and listen. With family and friends, I often feel an unaccustomed check in my spirit to stay silent. To not advise, correct, encourage or judge. To instead, let them be the wordsmiths, to draw them out and express themselves. It is hard. It is very hard. In two particular instances recently, I was worked up about something that I felt needed to be said. People were making mistakes with their lives. Headed the wrong direction. I prayed for the right words to say to help them change their course. Instead, I clearly heard the answer to be silent. In both cases, I had no choice but to be obedient. God glued my lips shut. Not a single word emerged. I realized later that my words would have done more harm than good. Their journey was not mine to map. It reminds me of the lions in the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. God protected Daniel by shutting the mouths of the lions. What I don’t often realize is that my words can devour a person just as easily as a lion can kill. I am grateful that the same God who spared Daniel’s life by shutting the mouths of the lions cares enough about those I love to shut my mouth as well.