Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Still Remembering

I forget sometimes that it is ok to be quiet, to sit in quiet.  There is a baby softly crying right now, upstairs, and I'm waiting to see whether she'll fall back asleep on her own.  But I have to listen for the next noise she will make, and she may not make any.  Meanwhile, it is mostly quiet.  I let the music end.  There is white noise coming from the baby monitor.  A clock ticks.  A train whistle sounds in the distance.  Cars go by, but a few streets over.  My fingernails click against the keyboard.  And I am quiet.  How much you can hear when you are willing to be still.  

This week at the prayer meeting I attend we were talking about what it means to hear God's voice.  When Philip heard the angel of the Lord, and the Spirit, speaking to him in Acts 8, what had he been doing?  Was he busy doing something else God had told him to do?  Or was he doing something he thought was not wicked, but not really directed by God?  Was he eager to be used by God and so praying for God to give him a direction?  And if you do something like that, how long should you wait?  What if you decided to be still until God spoke, and He took longer than you expected?  What if you gave up waiting on Him, went on to some good task, and missed Him telling you to randomly take the desert road?  

Another thing we were talking about was how we can make our own noise, or dive into distractions, keeping us from hearing God.  If we never take the time to pray or sing praise songs, if we fill ourselves with TV and news and work and hobbies, we aren't giving God much of a chance.  And He deserves more than a chance (even though He can break through without chances).

Waiting is hard, especially when God is quiet.  I, at least, start to doubt that He will ever speak, or that He has ever spoken.  Reminders come that there are things that I want God to do, and I start thinking that I could do them - if only He would give me orders.  Or maybe all I need is permission.  Or maybe I'll just do them myself anyway.  And suddenly instead of God's servant waiting, God's servant is taking over.  And I realize that I had been waiting for God to be my servant, not for Him to be my Master.  

There's another side to patient waiting, though.  Rest.  Peace.  Presence.  When we are still, we are not busy.  (And I don't think you can argue that God has called us to constant busyness.)  If we trust that He will work when His good time has arrived, we can have peace: confidence and hope and the absence of that tight anxiety that makes you feel as though you are straining even when you are not moving.  His presence is filling the silence when we draw near to Him.  Maybe He wants us to enjoy Him, instead of just running around trying to earn His love.  His love is a gift, His work in us is grace, and when He is not employing us, that is also grace.  

Lately I've been learning to remember in the waiting.  Remember God's prior faithfulness.  Remember that He has truly led me here.  Remember that He promises to hear me.  This remembering builds faith.  It brings thanks.  It intentionally focuses me so that I can have peace.  It directs my faith to true things, to God's real ways.  And it lets me be aware of His nearness.  

Most times it is hard to thank God for waiting.  Maybe it's because I need to do it better.  

To God be all glory.

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