Immediately [Zechariah's] mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed,
and he began to speak, praising God. Luke 1:64, NIV
First words. We collect them from babies like pure gold. We coax, bribe, celebrate and reward them for the simplest syllables they utter. Other broken silences are different. The first words after a ruptured relationship could go either way. The first words of a surgeon’s report could still a storm or start one.
What your first words are after a long time of silence
depends on what you have been thinking or hearing
during the silence.
What do you think Zechariah had been thinking about during his nine months of forced silence? Did he replay his time before Gabriel and wish he could have taken back the words that brought the silence? Or did he use the silence when he could share no words, to listen deeply to the God who heard him?
We find a hint by remembering what Zechariah’s first words were: Praise be to the Lord! (Luke 1:67) Zechariah used the first audible sounds he could make to thank God for redemption, salvation, mercy, and promise-keeping. Zechariah used his silence well. He was temple priest benched for nine months turned eloquent and noteworthy.
What would my first words have been? How frustrated I was without speech? How hard communication was limited to printed words and hand motions? Probably. Here is Zechariah turning this miracle moment into a prayer and praise service. He found more than his voice; he found his life message.
This was not just a proud papa relieved that he could speak. Nor was it a frustrated man who felt his words had been unfairly stolen from him. This was a man who had learned something in the silence. He had learned that his words were not as necessary as he thought. He came to this moment, a new father after expected childlessness, a man who knew His God had heard him even when he feared he had not; and he used his fresh words to praise God.
We can learn something from Zechariah. What would happen if we broke the night’s silence with words of praise? What if we gathered at church to be the first to break someone’s lonely silence by affirming who God is and why we have come to worship Him? Then, start with silence. Start by listening.
You will always have something important to say
after hearing from God.
As you begin this journey to Christmas, think about the power of your words. Remember that it is the powerful Word of God Himself come to your heart that makes the difference. Begin the day with His words, not yours. He has a word for you this day. Listen for it. Then, the words of your mouth will be pleasing to God and everyone else who hears them.