When Nothing’s Going On, Something’s Going On


“In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.”

(I Kings 6:7 NIV)

When an author writes well, we readers get inside the head of a character and see through his eyes and hear through his ears as the story unfolds. The character’s thoughts lay exposed to us, but only his thoughts and not the thoughts of others. If a scene is written well, we feel what the character feels, know what the character knows, and think what the character thinks.

But everything else is guesswork.

Just like in real life.

As I read I Kings 6, verse 7 intrigued me. “…no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site…” For seven years, silence surrounded the building of the temple in Jerusalem. When it sounded like nothing was going on, something was going on.

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem

On the other hand, in a quarry in Lebanon, noise abounded. Away from the curious eyes (and ears) of Jerusalem locals, plenty happened as laborers shaped the stone for the temple. Hammers, chisels, and any other iron tool ripped rock out of the mountains.

Think about this for a moment.

In the then-future temple, nothing but silence.

At the quarry, furious effort.

Now fast forward to the present.

You sit in the church sanctuary, the modern-day equivalent of the temple. Nothing seems to be happening. A few songs, the pastor preaching, an occasional prayer—but mostly silence. Of course, this may not describe your church or last Sunday but it describes a lot of churches and a lot of Sundays.

Whether we characterize the community at worship as silent or noisy, we often define the experience as “nothing much happened today in church.” And that’s how things appear.

But God’s not fooled by appearances.

We are.

He’s not.

We can’t see, hear, or read people’s thoughts. Like a well-written character, we’re limited to our five senses and what bounces around in our own heads.

But rest assured, God hammers and chisels away inside the hidden quarry called the human heart. You know that’s true because, like me, He’s working inside you. And if He’s working inside us, He’s also working inside the hearts of those around us.

Most of the time, we just don’t see it.

Or hear it.

But that’s only how it appears.

Question: What’s God doing in the silences?

About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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