Friday, June 17, 2011

When God Is Silent

There are times we have to hold on to that which we cannot see or hear. We have to hold on to what and whom we know.

That is true with marriage and with friendship and with why we are still in our jobs.

And it is true with God.

God is not talking to me right now. I am reading scripture every day. I am active in church. I am praying. I am listening. God is silent.

I have learned not to be upset about that. I remember times of clarity in the Word of God and in the word of God. I remember times of direction and spiritual certainty. I know without doubt that God has spoken to me multiple times.

It is just not happening right now.

And that is ok. The will of God has been demonstrated clearly at times through study of scripture, through prayer life, through worship, through the voice of a friend or a mentor, and through experiences. Other times, the will of God is elusive and even silent, for a while.

God is not playing tricks. When I am hearing Him clearly, I walk, obedient and trusting, with Him. Then, when the voice of God is not clear, I walk where I know to walk, and I trust that I am walking where He wants me to walk. A big facet of faith is trusting that I am being led, even when I don't hear the commands. I have to trust the signs - my talents, my likes, what I am obviously good at, what the right people ask me to do – in concert with those times of my clear understanding of God’s voice through scripture and prayer and all those things I put in the paragraph above. If I walk where God is leading when His voice is clear, then I know I am on the right path when I don’t hear Him so well.

The silence of God can be like the doldrums. Literally, the doldrums are those periods at sea when there is no wind. A sailing ship that hits the doldrums can’t go where it wants to go. It is at the mercy of the current.

In life, the doldrums are those times when we have no wind in our sails. We feel powerless to control what is happening to us. We feel that life is moving along without us.

We have relationship doldrums, where those around us seem to be moving at a pace that does not include us. Those we love and those with whom we spend time have not really changed, but we are not feeling any excitement, any spark, and transference of energy between ourselves and them. After a while, we can wonder if we are in the wrong boat and whether anybody we know ever cared about us.

The periodic silence of God is the spiritual doldrums, when it seems that God has ceased speaking, when Bible study holds little of new interest, when worship itself seems routine. Before long, we can wonder if we ever really heard God speak. We wonder if the current will just sweep us away.

I have grown to understand that the doldrums are a natural part of life. It is the rest in the symphony that makes the crescendo that much more important. It is the black in the painting that allows the master to create that extra perspective. It is the doldrums that allow the best of the sailors to watch for and take advantage of the slightest breeze; before he knows it, he has found the headwind.

Doldrums are not fun, but they are not a disaster, and they are certainly not unique to any of us. Part of maturity is knowing they are coming and recognizing them when they arrive. I try not worry about them, and I do my best not to let them throw me off my game. Perhaps the silence is meant to allow me to take advantage of the rest.

We walk by faith, not by sight... or by hearing. We know what we know. Those who love me still love me. God is still present, even if quiet.

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