The theologian, Jürgen Moltmann, once said of the Spirit of God, "We know so little about the Holy Spirit because he is too close, not because he is so far away from us." It is not that the Spirit is off in the distance, waving its hands and shouting at us, trying to get our attention; instead, the Spirit is so close that it may simply whisper to us. We may need to listen in the midst of all that is taking place around us, from the mundane to the sudden, to hear the whispers of grace.
It is like the high school senior, who has been reading pamphlet after pamphlet about various colleges. She has been accepted at several schools, and she has written her pro and con lists for each one, but she is at a standstill in her decision. She knows all of the statistics. She knows the strengths and weaknesses of each program. She has asked all of the right questions. She has even gone so far as to sit down with friends of her family, who have graduated from each place, to gain their perspective.
Then she gets into the family car, and the family takes a road trip. It is not until she steps onto campus, where students are coming and going to class, that she has that feeling--almost like a whisper. She just knows, "This is the place."
It is like that mission experience, where we get outside of what we are used to doing and we discover the presence of God, which is always there, but it seems more tangible and real. We go to another country, and we talk with people, we worship with them, and we work alongside of them. We build houses, we serve others, and we return with this sense of God's grace that we cannot put into words.
We go to the prison each week, and we talk with the inmates. We talk about the stories of scripture, we talk about the stories of their lives, and we pray together. We return with this sense of the Spirit of God, which feels familiar, for it is always there with us, but it also feels strangely new.
Sometimes the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line, where we hear God directly in the quiet of our lives, but an indirect line, where we are listening for the Spirit of God in the midst of everything else happening around us.
In a world full of shouting, often times, we think we must speak up to be heard. We think that we must use a tourist voice--the voice we use when we travel to another country, where a different language is spoken. We think that if we just speak louder and slower that we can overcome the language barrier. We assume that when we speak of the sacred, we must use some sort of stained-glass voice, where it must sound pristine and radiant without any hint of authenticity, or even struggle. We suppose that we need to use a karaoke voice, sounding more exciting than simply meaningful.
However, in a world that shouts, grace may choose to whisper.
Grace may choose to whisper in a world that shouts because it is the only way to be heard. It is rather difficult to shout compassion. It is not easy to scream humility. It is nearly impossible to express love and commitment with a megaphone in our hands. But in a whisper, we are able to speak of grace to one another.