One of the things I delight in doing is writing devotionals. I may have mentioned earlier in this blog that I am writing a devotional based on scripture from each book of the Bible. The title of the work as a whole is “Holy Sandpaper,” a title I’ve taken from my dear pastor’s wife Lindsey who used that title for a women’s prayer retreat she led one Saturday. She gave me permission to use it, by the way! The theme is that God loves us so much He spends a lot of time polishing us for the future jobs He plans for us. Whether or not He plans hard times for us, He uses them when they come, for our good and for His glory. Many of the devotionals were written concerning a “holy sandpaper” season in my life or that of someone close to me. However, today’s devotional, using Habbakuk 2:20, is not one of those.
The verse is Habbakuk 2:20: “But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”
I can easily spin myself back in time to a routine Sunday morning at Clarkesville Baptist Church. Choir members in short white robes with very big sleeves are singing reverently with ascending and descending dynamics, “The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence, let all the earth keep silence before him.” Some siblings in our awesome troop of Knight children (somewhere between five and seven of the ten of us at that time) liked to make fun of one or two in the choir (on the way home, that is!). One who caught our attention was a tall thin, almost bald gentleman who had a distinctive nose and sang through it heartily and with vigor. But though we found humor in the choir’s rendition, the message was not lost on me.
God was in His holy temple and all the earth should keep silence. I didn’t really study about what all that might mean. It seemed obvious at the time. God was on His throne and the earth should worship Him. It was that simple. I might not have been too sure of what worship meant then. It was a forced quiet time (no giggling or passing of notes!) heavy with the scent of candles and pew wax and decorated with fancy hats and white gloves.
Now, many years later, after children, grandchildren, deaths, weddings, disappointments, victories, a parade of presidents, world shattering tragedies and refreshing realizations–now more than ever I hear this message like the clear note of a silver bell. Only now it’s even simpler: God is holy; I am not.
God in His holiness made provision for me to be covered with a mantle of purity paid for by Jesus’ blood. In many, many scripture passages we’re encouraged to sing praises for what God has done for us, to shout and play instruments and publish His good news. But there are times when we all need to hush, keep silent, and just know that He is God.
Lord, we’re bowing before You and we’re trying to listen, trying to close out all the chatter and distractions and just listen. We want to hear You and we want to obey Your commands. Help us in our quest, we pray. Amen.