Barely a half hour into our journey and the barrage of questions was as fast and furious as the I-40 traffic that seemed to swallow me. Every question began the same.
I am Nan. That’s what my grandchildren call me, and two of them were calling incessantly.
Hey, Nan. Where are the pretzels?
Hey, Nan. Will juice come out of your car seat?
Hey, Nan. Are we lost?
It was going to be a long trip. Eight hours at best. With twin five-year-olds.
Five-year-olds will not be ignored.
We know you can hear us, Nan.
My mother deflected as many of their questions as she could. It’s nice to have a patient travelling companion who can tend to the things behind you while you try to focus on the road. But, this was a game and I was the target for the twin machine guns of rapid-fire queries.
Meme (my mom, their great-grandmother) was unruffled by their attack. She faced their onslaught like Wonder Woman with her bullet deflecting bracelets. She was no fun. I, on the other hand gave them the response of frustration-bordering-on-irritation-and-aggravation they were looking for. They didn’t want to know where the pretzels were. They wanted to know how much I could take before I blew my top, which they seem to consider a great source of entertainment. Every question was followed by a giggle.
It sounds cute. Forty miles into a 450 mile trip, it’s not so cute.
Hey Nan, did you know your mouth gets tiny when you get mad?
It appears I purse my lips when I begin to lose my cool. My grandkids call it “Nan’s tiny mouth.” Yes, my mouth had become miniscule.
“Let’s play the Quiet Game,” I blurted, immediately recognizing that I had played that card far too early in this trip. I don’t even remember what ridiclous prize I promised the winner, with the understanding that they must be quiet for at least 30 minutes.
It’s amazing what one is prepared to promise in exchange for 30 minutes of peace and quiet.
One minute passes. Then another. Then another. Then…
I lose! Hey, Nan…
The Quiet Game is no fun for a five-year-old who has already been strapped into a car seat with limited mobility. It’s hard enough to be still. But, to be still and quiet. Well, that’s asking too much of just about anyone, much less a five-year-old.
I’ve just come out of a Quiet Game. It was a struggle for me, too. I can spew my verbage with the same machine gun fury as my twins.
I want to speak. I want to write. I want the words to flow incessantly.
But, sometimes God tells me it’s time to play the Quiet Game. No writing, just listening. No teaching, but learning.
When God wants me still and quiet, the enemy encourages words and movement. I can feel unproductive and guilty. I start considering what others might think. I wonder if my silence will be viewed as laziness.
Then God sends a gentle reminder through the same verse that seems to pop up in the devotionals I read, the sermons I hear, and the blog posts I read.
Don’t speak, just listen.
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10
But, I’m not listening. I’m too busy talking when God has said to be quiet.
Being quiet feels like putting everything on hold. It’s like God is asking me to stop doing something I want to do. Something I want to do for Him. Being quiet and still requires patience. Patience that even my granddaughters recognize I lack.
When I suggested the Quiet Game for the twins, I had reasons. I wish I could say I did it to encourage the girls to relax and enjoy the scenery of the trip, but I won’t lie. It wasn’t because I was so deeply spiritual and mature. I was just trying to hang on to a thread of sanity. When God tells me it’s time to play the Quiet Game, however, His reasons are for my good.
There are refreshing words God wants me to hear from Him.
There is direction He wants to give me.
There’s scenery on my journey I’ve been missing.
Maybe He just wants me to take a little nap while someone else drives.
How willing am I to remain quiet until God tells me the Quiet Game is over? Am I so inclined to charge ahead with my own plans and my own words that I refuse to surrender to God in quiet obedience?
I gave up on words and I gave God the silence He asked for. In that silence I listened for His voice, His direction, His guidance, His wisdom, His words of love for me. I rested in that silence. Maybe the next time He asks me to play the Quiet Game I won’t fight it so much.
It’s not easy. This has been a difficult Quiet Game. But I did not lose, and my prize, I know, will be great.
The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and He let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 1 Samuel 3:19
Maybe my obedience made God smile. I sure hope so. I’d never want to give God reason to have “tiny mouth”.