Thursday, September 9, 2010

Silence is Golden (or so they say…)

Silence can be a scary thing. I am one of those people that is rarely ever in true silence. When I wake up, my phone is still playing the music I went to bed listening to, I let it play until I walk out my door, I turn on the radio once I get in my car, I put on my headphones while I am at work (when not talking to people or customers) and then when I get home, usually the tv goes on. The few moments I may spend in transition from one act to the other is miniscule and often happens while in the presence of other people talking. There is no silence. Often that is completely intentional- I don’t want to be in silence. For me silence=being alone. I think this point of view is a common feeling for our generation, emotionally and spiritually.

When the idea of silence is a scary thing, how do we cope when God is being painfully silent? By silent I don’t mean cruel, absent, or misleading. I mean when He is putting you in a place where He is not revealing any more information than what is absolutely necessary to get you by and keep you in place. This is what I am currently experiencing. Like a best kept secret, God is revealing to me only the things I absolutely have to know, most of which is don’t do any of the things I want to in this situation. You know, the kind of things that are fueled by stress, fear or pain: emotion-led actions. Things like burning bridges, being selfish with my time/family/resources, hurting others because I’m hurting. The only thing I feel God actively telling me are things about myself, Himself, and our relationship. Literally, nothing else.

This seems like a good place to stop and talk about the God I believe in. I am aware that many people may end up on this blog because they happen to know me or get redirected by the tags. If you are one of those people that end up here and don’t have a good understanding of God or why He may be silent in your life (or are wondering why He is silent at all), please know this is not God’s way of being cruel. The thing is, we are only able to see a narrow view of our lives and the impact our experiences have on our lives. Jim Cymbala in his book “Fresh Faith” (from the previously mentioned Perspectives book I am currently reading) says, “The hardest part of faith is often simply to wait. And the trouble is, if we don’t, then we start to fix the problem ourselves-and that makes it worse. We complicate the situation to the point where it takes God much longer to fix it than if we had quietly waited for His working in the first place.”

Imagine if God told you all His plans, gave you all the answers, revealed His secrets. How would you respond? I know what I would do…I would jump to action! I would start living & working differently. Who wouldn’t want to jump start the process of making your life better if you knew exactly what to do to get it and what the end result would be? But if that were to happen, where did God go in my jump? He disappeared, not because He left me, but because I no longer needed Him. There would no longer be a need for faith, mercy, or a chance to glorify Him. It would once again be all about me.

Sometimes God is silent because it forces us to stop and listen. He may become silent to silence us. He may become silent because right now, especially in a time of suffering, He wants me to focus on Him and our relationship before I can work on my future relationships with others. I guess if I am being truly honest with myself, God isn’t being that silent with me (look at the past 6 days of blogging based on what He is telling me), He’s just being silent about the areas I want answers. What a merciful God-because those are the areas I am not emotionally mature enough to deal with in this state anyway.

I remember a couple years ago (wow time has gone by so fast) when my sister was attempting to get pregnant with her first kid. She was going through some on-going medical issues and possibly facing the reality that her body would not or could not produce a baby. She and her husband struggled with what God wanted them to do, what steps they could possibly take with the medical advances available today. I remember her telling me that she was waiting for God to give her a “go-ahead” sign to take that next step (a financial one, a faith one, a physical one), just something that gave them the indication that was what God wanted them to do, a step they should make. And nothing, they heard nothing. God didn’t tell them to take a step, He didn’t tell them to stop wanting it, He just told them to wait. So they did. They just said we are going to wait. And the very next day she found out she was pregnant! After months of waiting, praying, suffering, & fearing the cost or potential inability to receive this gift, here it was.

The most exciting part (well other than being blessed with the cutest kid alive, seriously that’s not biased, it’s pure fact, haha) when they look at him, they see God. They see a relationship cultivated in trust and faith. That beautiful little boy serves as a daily reminder of the struggle they endured and the faithfulness of the Father who fulfills.

We live in a society filled with debt (hey I’m guilty of it too although I am about to plunge into fixing that). We, for the most part, don’t really identify with saving until we have the money to buy something. But this reminds me of a friend of mine I haven’t spoken to in years. The last time I had really seen her, she had just bought a new car. She had, I believe, just turned 30 and I think went in and paid it full or at least the majority of the note down. She had been driving this crappy old car around for years, it was super old and had no air conditioner. Do you think when she got that new car she just looked at it the way the rest of us do who finance? I’m gonna guess not. I bet every time she got in she remembered all the years of struggle fondly because they were now over. I bet she appreciated having air conditioning because she had suffered so long without it. I bet she found a sense of true accomplishment at putting in all that time & being a real owner of that new car.

That’s how it should be for us when we come out of our time of struggling. When we finally get what we have so longed for and waited for we should have that sense of belonging and appreciation. We should be able to look back at our struggles and see the relationship forged from them. When we look at the result of our struggle, we should see God because that blessing is a reminder that He may have been silent, we may have been asked to be still for a while, but He has always known what He was doing and the end result.

Like I said before, God is choosing to be silent to me about an area of my life. I am working really hard to be ok with that (trust me it has been a LONG road of questioning God about this and just being told WAIT). I’m starting to realize maybe I need to spend some time in the dark. Faith is really not my area of strength. It isn’t that I don’t believe, I just don’t know how to let that belief be what drives me, what sustains me. Right now my goal is to sharpen the gifts I do have and try to build up those that don’t come so easily to me. After all, that’s what this time of waiting & silence is truly about-a time for God to slowly mold me into the person I need to be for the next chapter of my life.

Do you feel like God is silent with you right now? Take a minute and ask yourself honestly why that might be. Can you see what He might be doing by trying to shield that part of your understanding? What are you able to see more clearly because of that? Be blessed.

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