Are You Still There?

Words poured from the woman’s heart like a broken water main. I waited for her to catch her breath so I could interject my thoughts over the phone.

Finally, a pregnant pause followed by her whimper. “Are you still there?”

“I’m here,” I assured her. “I’m just listening.”

Lately, I feel like that woman. I’m venting to the Lord, but He’s not saying anything. Lord, are you still there?

I imagine the Lord would speak more often if I’d be still and listen. And yet, there are times when I hold my tongue.

Desperate for wisdom or direction, I wait for the Holy Spirit to speak to me through scripture. Or I long for the joy and satisfaction of His fellowship.

Only, sometimes God appears silent.

The longer He’s silent, the more I feel estranged from the One I’ve come to love and depend upon.

I plead like David, “Don’t toss me aside, banished forever from your presence. Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of your salvation….” (Psalm 51:11-12)

More silence.

So I remind myself to believe God and trust He is with me even in the deafening silence.

“Faith is especially required in times of silence as we wait for the intimacy of God.”

That’s what my mentor and friend, Loretta, told me years ago when she felt “God was silent and in the wings.”

Which is why Ephesians 6:13 tells us to “use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks….But to do this, you will need the—

ü  Strong belt of truth

ü  Breastplate of righteousness

ü  Shoes able to speed you on as you preach the Gospel.

ü  Shield of Faith to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.

ü  Helmet of salvation

ü  Sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God.

Putting on the armor of God is a daily task like brushing our teeth because the enemy doesn’t retreat. He knows my Achilles heel, the weakest spot to attack my faith.

When God appears silent or like He’s “watching from a distance,” Satan shoots flaming arrows aimed at my limited understanding to make me doubt—

God’s love. God’s mercy. God’s presence.

The SHIELD OF FAITH is my best defense.

Faith STOPS the fiery arrows from hitting their mark because “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith enables me to believe God is present even when He Appears Silent.

Just now, my cell phone rings, interrupting the silence as I finish this blog. The voice coming through the receiver is a sister in Christ who lives in South Dakota. We haven’t spoken with each other in a year.

My skin tingles. This is a Divine Appointment. God’s perfect timing.

He knows I need a word of encouragement, so He sends a friend I’m least expecting to talk with me.

And while we’re on the phone, the Lord enters our midst and makes Himself known.

Faith extinguishes the doubts as we pray to the Glorious One who always listens—even when He appears silent. 

How do you respond when God appears silent?

Ears to Hear

My daughter, the bride, had been gone all day shopping for her wedding when I text-ed her from home: “Be sure to Stop and Eat.”

She returned my text: “How did you know?”

I replied, “Because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

IMG_5693Since Thanksgiving, wedding plans in addition to getting ready for Christmas and out-of-town guests, made me feel like Santa who’s “making a list and checking it twice.” Only the list never seemed to end.

I had to make myself STOP and FEAST on God’s Word. With my soul fed, I was able to continue the race for one more day. I admit my running took greater priority as the month wore on, but still, I’d attempt to grab a morsel of scripture, breathe a prayer.

My husband calls me a Jack Russell Terrier. Like those dogs, my personality leans towards hyper when I have an agenda. When I take the time to “Be still” and sit at my Master’s feet, I’m calm, but only momentarily. The doorbell rings, and I’m running and yapping again.

Knowing I would get overwhelmed, hosting a wedding and Christmas dinner within three days of each other, I did not want to be a Jack Russell Terrier. I prayed to have “the mind of Christ,” to be loving, kind, humble, have a servant’s heart.

I even embraced the advice of a Safeway clerk who told me “major on the majors and minor on the minors.”

“People won’t remember what you served for dinner,” she said, as she handed me a two-foot grocery receipt. “They’ll remember being together, and how you welcomed them into your home.”

She was right.

The wedding day was beautiful beyond words even for this author, but by Christmas day, I was running on empty. I could only “major on the majors.”

Whenever my pride pointed out my shortcomings, minor things became major in my head which led to fear of what others thought about me.

Pride and fear are NOT the “mind of Christ.”

So instead of listening to the tape of accusations in my head, I asked God to breathe for me and listened to the …

Laughter in the room as the bride and groom’s two families became one.

Twelve voices singing  carols to celebrate our Lord’s birth.

Spoken prayers and stories shared.

Love and joy fill the air.

By God granting me ears to hear, the Jack Russell Terrier within me remained more calm even in this.

“He keeps in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee.” Isaiah 26:3