Turn! Turn! Turn!
It’s hard not to hear this song in your mind when writing about these verses from Ecclesiastes.
The song became an international hit in late 1965 when it was adapted by the American folk rock group the Byrds. The single entered the U.S. chart at number 80 on October 23, 1965, before reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on December 4, 1965. (Wikipedia)
I only know this song because of the Time-Life infomercials that sold those greatest hit CDs. However, the lyrics are straight outta the Bible.
Yes, I just published that sentence. I will probably regret it.
Speaking of regrets…
One of the hardest lessons for me to learn is to know when to speak and when to be silent.
I found evidence supporting this in my elementary school report cards.
It’s so ironic that we are meeting right now on a blog where I put most of my words.
Looking back over the last three years of writing, my friends and family really should have helped me edit.
I’ve been told, “You write like you talk; it’s endearing.”
No sir and no ma’am.
You, my friends, have taken the verse “a time to be silent” straight outta context.
Someone should have spoken up and registered me for a refresher English class. Do you know how hard it is to go back through one hundred blog posts and edit all of these words?
I will need a tutor, a lot of prayer and a new keyboard.
What I talk about has definitely changed through each decade.
Is there anything more regrettable than words that cannot be undone?
Is there anyone else who finds it difficult not to tell their side of the story or their opinion of an argument?
When is it appropriate to speak up and when is it not?
My daughters once told me that I may not realize how I come across to people when I am passionate about a topic.
When I reflected on what they said, I noticed my words are always more direct and urgent:
- when someone is about to make a mistake I’ve already made and
- when trying to convince someone not to walk down the creepy, dark alley.
Like in a horror movie.
My reactions are a little “high strung,” because I know what could be waiting for them in the shadows. I am desperately holding up a detour sign.
It reminds me of the Monster Plantation ride at Six Flags where your boat suddenly take the wrong tunnel toward the dark side, while the whimsical sheriff shouts, “Don’t go that way! Turn back!”
Turn! Turn! Turn!
How can we ever know or master when it’s time to be silent?
Discernment of speech will only come when we are walking closely with the Lord and reading His Word.
If we are too far away, then we won’t hear the “turn back” prompting.
Although my goal is to follow Jesus every day, there are times when I did the bare minimum in my relationship with the Lord. I know it affected my speech because it impacts my whole life.
I needed more of His Words in me to better determine my own.
I can’t grow (or speak) in the wrong direction if I am rooted in the freshly plowed soil that is in His well-watered garden.
The fruit of our speech will then reflect: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
When we are abiding in Him, then His Spirit can guide us on when to speak and what to say.
I have been so horrified at some of my former words, I have honestly prayed the Lord would take away my voice before I did any more damage.*
This is a verse I often recite to myself:
Because the power of life and death is in our speech, we should always seek to be peacemakers with our words.
We cannot just be the person who claims to love peace or promote peace. A peacemaker is someone who takes action.
Taking action could mean different things:
- holding our tongue
- willing to have the uncomfortable conversations
- asking for forgiveness and reconciling when we want to stay bitter
- speaking tough love or restoring someone from a fall
Taking action is also a decision to abide so closely to Jesus that we are constantly being changed.
This makes the things of this world grow strangely dim, so the decisions people are making for eternity will become the very reason we speak at all.
…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:18-20
*Funny story about asking the Lord to take away my voice so I would not damage anyone with the wrong words…in December 2019, an MRI revealed my year-long ear pain is the result of TMJ damage.
I have degenerative disc disease in the left side of my jaw and arthritis on both sides.
Ha ha ha!!
Okay, so it’s not really not funny (because it hurts), but when you factor in that D in conduct from first grade and everything else I’ve mentioned, maybe I used up 85 years worth of talking in just 45 years?
Did I inadvertently sign up for a jawline thorn-in-the-flesh as a constant reminder to watch my tongue?
It’s a good thing I can type.
As I’m writing this, I’m watching the She Loves Out Loud broadcast.
Diane Strack clearly heard the message, “It’s time to speak.”
She described it like this:
“Gather the women to pray, Diane, it’s the only hope for our nation.” The urgent whisper from my mentor, Vonette Bright, has become a direct call of the Holy Spirit.
All of the speakers addressed topics near and dear to my heart. I cried through most of it.
The afternoon segment in Memphis, TN., included a woman who has shaped my walk with the Lord like no other.
She doesn’t even live in my state anymore, but I read and listen to everything published by Donna Gaines.
Mrs. Donna, as I used to call her, has been a role model to me for sixteen years. Her life is a beautiful example of the wisdom we can obtain by walking closely with the Lord.
During this third hour, her church is the prayer host for the speakers on race relations, the sin of racism and our command for unity as Christians.
What I just witnessed by the women of Memphis is beyond even my own words.
If we want to break the curses spoken by those who came before us – involving race or any other stronghold we battle – then we must be in prayer to know when to speak and what to say, in order to bring unity for Jesus Christ and His kingdom.
Please watch the replay when it is published.
The Sound of Silence