April 6, 2011

April 6: Multiplicity of echoes

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By Matt Helmuth, a sophomore Bible and religion major from Elkhart, Ind.
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 130 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL:
I imagine the psalmist crying out from a crevasse, wide and deep, seemingly without bottom. Standing precariously on a ledge, the psalmist’s voice goes out – loud and desperate – and returns in a multiplicity of echoes, having bounced off the surrounding walls.

Sometimes I find myself surrounded by walls I’ve built up – constructed of my own efforts to haul myself out of the depths. Sometimes, I start to panic, and I cry out, “Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy!” And often all I get back is the echo of my own voice. It echoes in my head endlessly, and I find myself frowning, left with a resounding nothing.

When our voice is too loud, we can set off the echo of our own desperation in our souls, and our worries can drown out the voice of God’s Spirit whispering inside of us. God can hear our loudest cry and also our softest whisper. Often, though, we can’t hear God back, because we’re busy talking over the Spirit. We must have a posture of quietness, of stillness and of peace in order to hear the voice of God.

The quietness, stillness and peace can be painful. We encounter the deepest and most disturbing parts of ourselves in those moments. If we wait, though – if with our whole being we wait – we shall hear the Lord’s soft and purposeful whisper, which never left us at all.

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 130 (NRSV)
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. 2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! 3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. 5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. 7 O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. 8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

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Comments (27)

  1. amen from one who is guilty of talking over the Spirit

    Karen April 6, 2011 |
  2. A beautiful meditation. Thank you.

    Ann Hostetler April 6, 2011 |
  3. A subject dear to my heart–that of listening to God. Some time ago I started jotting down in a little notebook
    what I felt God was saying to me during my devotions.
    Later, when I read back over it, I’m sometimes amazed
    to realize how God has answered. Thanks a lot for your
    thoughts, Matt!

    Loretta Yoder Ostojic April 6, 2011 |
  4. This meditation spoke to my heart. Thank you! , Matt!

    Martha Helmuth April 6, 2011 |
  5. Your devotion is a good reminder of my need to wait and listen. As I look back over 90 years I marvel at how God has led in my life. Thank you Matt, for sharing your thoughts.

    Mary April 6, 2011 |
  6. What a needed reminder to be still and listen. I am so much more comfortable talking louder….and faster…and more urgently if I don’t think I hear an answer from God. Thank you for this devotion!

    Allison April 6, 2011 |
  7. Beautiful! Powerful! Helpful! Thank you for your thoughts. Thank you for the touch of your spirit.

    Jim Miller (James N. '53) April 6, 2011 |
  8. Thank you so much for your insight during a century of more and more noise and distractions. I need quiet-not just absent from noise-but an inner quiet to really hear from the Lord. And to 90 yr. old Mary you made me realize that it is something I will always have to work at. Thank you for that thought.

    Betty April 6, 2011 |
  9. This was just what I needed today. Thank you.

    Amanda April 6, 2011 |
  10. These words are so poignant to me today.
    We are so full of chatter….from the talking heads on TV trying to talk over each other…to friends at lunch all vying for a word in edgewise….(which is OK)…and even in solitary prayer…talking, asking, imploring, explaining, questioning. Thank you for reminding me to be still and listen.

    Joanne April 6, 2011 |
  11. This so touches on the issue of confidentiality. This aspect of trust is difficult to maintain, for me, unless I am quiet and think before I speak and listen to the prompting of God’s Spirit not to share the private information of others.

    March April 6, 2011 |
  12. That image of talking on and on, and making so much noise we can’t hear what God is saying, is a powerful one. I’m liable to quote you in my next sermon.

    Elaine Kauffman April 6, 2011 |
  13. The echo image, my own voice coming back at me because I fail to “shut up” the real greek in the translation, “be STILL” and know that I am God.” – Wow thanks for reminding me of that.

    G Kim Gilson April 6, 2011 |
  14. Thank you, Matt. Your beautiful reflection says to me how much I need to continue to start my day with stillness and meditation that helps me to listen in my deepest heart to God’s voice and stop echoing my own egoistic voice.

    marjorie April 6, 2011 |
  15. Thank you Matt, a very graphic and poetic way to remind us of the posture of waiting, where and how we may experience God.

    Jan April 6, 2011 |
  16. Thanks for this advent reflection. I especially like your words, “posture of quietness.”

    Dot April 6, 2011 |
  17. Excellent writing and well spoken. It speaks to the heart. Good work.

    Joyce April 6, 2011 |
  18. Matt, thank you for your words today. Authentic and inspired, as always.

    Jeff Hochstetler April 6, 2011 |
  19. Matt – thanks for this. Beautiful written and so insightful.

    billy April 6, 2011 |
  20. Very powerful and timely as I have been struggling with anxiety this past year and often drown out the reassuring voice of God with my own cries. Thank you for this reminder to be still and listen.

    Judy April 6, 2011 |
  21. Thank you Matt for an amazing and powerful meditation. Unusal to find such spiritual wisdom in a young man of your age. I am a congregation pastor in Buffalo, NY, and have worked with High School Ministry for the past 12 years.

    Harry April 6, 2011 |
  22. Thanks Matt, for the reminder that I do not need to be heard, but that I need to hear….quiet is okay.

    Carol April 6, 2011 |
  23. I really appreciated your words about waiting “with our whole being”! I like that–with our whole being—got me thinking. What would it be like to wait with our lips….to wait with our feet…to wait with our hands….to wait with our eyes, etc., etc., etc. I really like how your words made me reflect on waiting being embodied.

    Pam April 7, 2011 |
  24. I also liked what you said about: “God can hear our loudest cry and also our softest whisper.” Its because of our own needs to hear, be reassured, be calmed, etc. that we need to listen. I have found this to be so true in my own life.

    Pam April 7, 2011 |
  25. This is a most inspiring devotion for me. Thank-you

    Loretta Mast April 7, 2011 |
  26. Days later, I keep coming back to reread this devotion. Thank you!

    terah April 11, 2011 |
  27. Matthew Helmuth has pointed us to something timely and profound. We need GOD in our lives, and we need to make space and silence for GOD to enter in. Thanks,Matthew!

    Anne M. Mitchell April 13, 2011 |