“Why are you so quiet?”
I got that question a lot as a kid. Even as an adult, I am occasionally called out for being the quiet one in the group. It has always bothered me when people say such things, as if being an introvert is some sort of psychological disorder. In a world that is busy and loud and full of incessant chatter, quiet types like myself are often stereotyped as boring or conceited and brushed aside in favor of someone louder and flashier.
But there’s a place for quiet. God used a quiet person to accomplish something that changed the world. I picture Mary as a quiet, God-fearing young woman who went about her days without fanfare. Imagine her surprise when the angel told her that she had found favor with God and would give birth to His Son! I doubt she ran through the streets, knocking on doors and yelling her news to the townspeople. Instead, she quietly prepared for the momentous occasion by spending three months with her cousin Elizabeth and trusting God completely to bring about something divine.
Now think about the birth of Christ. There were no paparazzi crowding around the manger, eager to get that first glimpse of the infant Savior or the first interview with the new parents. No, other than the bellows of the cattle, the baa-ing of the sheep, and the cries of the baby, I imagine the manger scene was pretty quiet in the stillness of the night. We get glimpses of Mary’s personality throughout the Gospels as Jesus grows up and begins his ministry. Always, she personifies humility, obedience, and love in a quiet way.
Sometimes, in our busy, loud lives, we need to turn off the noise to hear God’s voice and his will for our lives. In 1 Kings 19:11-13, we read about Elijah waiting for the Lord to pass by. First comes a powerful wind that tears apart the mountains, then an earthquake, and then a fire. But the Lord didn’t come in those fierce, forceful elements. He came in a gentle whisper.
One of my favorite things to do during December is to turn off everything except the Christmas tree lights after everyone else has gone to bed. Then I sit quietly for a few minutes in the warm glow of the tree, thinking, praying, and enjoying the stillness.
Advent offers the perfect opportunity in the midst of the hectic Christmas season to slow down, turn down the noise and the lights, and reflect on the quiet, humble story of Christ’s birth. It’s OK to be quiet now and then; you just may hear the whisper of the Lord.
Be still, and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10