..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Monday, March 19, 2007

When God is Silent: Silence & Deeper Faith--Part 3

Silence & Jabberwocky. Silence & Testing. Now,
Silence & Deeper Faith.

In the last two posts I have been looking at
different aspects of the silence of God
and what we can best do to gain and grow
from the silence.

There are many reasons for silence: many
different seasons of it, and different nuances
to its wisdom and ability to teach.

Lately, I have felt that any silence on
God's part has been to call out a deeper
faith in me. Do I really believe that
He is who He says He is? Do I really
believe that He is matchless, sovereign,
and omnipotent Love reigning in mercy,
grace and truth over all?

I tell you the truth. I have been
dissatisfied with everything of late.
I get this way periodically. So much
seems less then it could be;
lackluster, compromised, asleep.

Yet I feel God calling me to deeper faith.
Sometimes in the silence between us I
seem Him watching me. He is watching
how I am going to respond to everything
being "all quiet on the western front."

Let me tell you something about that.
I am not a natural born optimist: just
not configured that way. But that does
not mean that I can not have ever-
increasing faith. I am sure that optimists
will tell you that optimism helps them
have faith. I'm sure it does. Personally
I cannot get to the mountain top of faith
by the half-full Road of Optimism. I have
to go another way: the half-empty, or
even completely empty, hungry way of
silence. If there are any of you out
there that can identify with this, here
are my thoughts.

First of all, what I am going to say is
still in the clinical trial period! If one
day you look here on my blog and some kind
soul posts that The Pen of The Wayfarer
chick has been hit by a heavenly lightning bolt,
then refer back to this article for the details. :)

Perhaps I am a Jacob at heart. More of a
"I will not let you go until you bless me"
kind of girl. For awhile that part of me
has kind of been beat down. She is rising
up! I have often found myself saying to
God of late, "You can do better than this!"

Now before you accuse me of impertinent
disrespect, hear me out. If God rebukes
me for such, I will stand gladly chastened
and corrected. I more think He likes it.
In my heart I am not suggesting that He
is not doing a good job in leading the
world at large, or my tiny world. I am
trying to engage with Him.

I really like the Charles Dickens novel,
"Oliver Twist." Recently I saw clips from the
film version and little scrawny Oliver
is bravely making his way to the powers
that be with his soup bowl in hand,
demanding, "More, please."

Oliver is still hungry. So am I. He
does say "please", but he is determined.
So am I. Jesus said, "You have not because
you ask not." Life can put us in the
place where we feel that asking might
not do any good: that prayer doesn't
really work. And if it doesn't get you
what you want, how do you explain that
on Testimony Sunday?

Do you know how you explain it? Like this:
"I prayed and God did not answer. I prayed
more and God was silent. I prayed and
prayed and prayed. When there was
nothing left of words and all was silent
within and without, suddenly heaven
opened and the veil was rent in my heart
and I saw God. All I can do now is
cry, "Holy! Holy! Holy! For God, Himself, IS
the answer! He is everything!" Now there
is a great testimony.

But back, for a moment, to the thunderbolt.
I feel that I can come to God and say,
"You can do better than this, I am
expecting more, please!," because
that statement is my act of faith.
It can both egg me on, and,
respectfully, egg God on.
God wants to unfold things in such
a way that He receives glory and
and part of that glory is all of
His children getting benevolently
trumped by His absolute goodness!

I think He wants to see our faces when
the vast expression of His mind-boggling
goodness causes us to jump with
joy and proclaim, "You are absolutely
able to do anything! Your goodness
is beyond belief! There is No-One like You!
How unsearchable are Your judgments
and Your ways past finding out! Amen!"

Note how Jesus responded to people
that goaded him either a lot or a little
to do greater things. What separated
those who had "great faith" from those
who didn't? I think the ones Jesus
commended and answered were able to
simply see that Jesus could do
anything He wanted and they refused
to be put off or turned away.

I relate most to the Syro-Phoenician
woman whose daughter needed healing.
She cries out to him, but, get this,
(Matthew 15:23). Silence. She then
keeps trying, she, a woman and a
foreigner,(you go, girl!) but is then
met by an apparent insult. Jesus tells
her that He won't do it because
"it is not right to take children's
bread and feed it to dogs (vs. 26)."

She, being a woman after my own
heart, knows that even dogs
get fed, and that kind people
feed their dogs the scraps and
that even a scrap from His table
will do quite nicely. I would say
that she comes close to what you
would call "trumping" Jesus, wouldn't
you? Jesus springs into
action on her behalf and not only
springs, but calls her faith "GREAT".

Don't tell me He cannot be
provoked to work greater, awesome
things if we expect Him to. May I
even suggest that He sets things up
so we will provoke Him, and that
silence is one of these things?

He says we don't even need to know
the depths of His good intent,
just that if we keep asking,
He will work [compare the
parable of importunity (Luke 11:5-13)].

I know that God can do more with
my life. I trust that you know that
to. I am going to press into Him
with everything I am until He
nudges His Father and says,
"Here she comes again, We better
get moving!"

Dear ones, He can do abundantly
ABOVE all that we can ask or think.
I'm just starting off with asking
for MORE. I'm going to keep telling
Him, "You can do better then this."
You can hang onto your hat in the
background but I'm hungry and
I'm going with my bowl for more.

This kind of urging toward God can
seem embarrassing or like the pleas
of a desperate peasant approaching
the King. I really don't care what
it looks like to all of you, it is
He that I wait upon. People with great
need aren't afraid to beg or
plead or appear odd.

Uncomfortable acts of faith urge
me to engage with Him, to be
expectant, to make sure all
my plates and cups are clean and
waiting for him to fill. It is
like when Elijah, as a type of Christ,
told the widow to find as many
vessels as she could to be
filled with oil to pay her debts
(I Kings 17:1-15).

The only limit was on her ability
to contain it. The more vessels she
came up with, the more God would fill.
And it was she that got to pour out
the oil! She was able to pour out
that which would miraculously bless
and provide for her. I feel faith
rising within just thinking about
this. What a windfall of blessing!
You can bet I would have gotten
more vessels then you could count.
Expand me, O God!

All this blessing waits in the silence
of God, the silence drawing me further,
God hesitating so I have time to blurt
out "More, please!" It is time to put more
faith on the line, to step toward
Him more boldly.

P.S. A few days have gone by since
I began writing this. I was sitting
in prayer the other night, yes,
sitting in silence, and God brought
something He wanted me to do to
mind. It was something that needed
more attention. And do you know what He
said to me, "You can do better than
!" I looked up into His face,
and there was the sense of a big
wide grin. "Touche, Lord, yes, I can do
better. I'll get right on it!" Woohoo!
He's not mad! And I think great
big blessings are on the way.

1 comment:

Brooke said...

I really appreciated this post...found it's emphasis on silence very encouraging. I have felt God teaching me faith thru silence as well.

Thank you very much for your posts. They have blessed me.