God’s Dreadful Withdraw

cave

I know I’ve been quiet lately on the blog. I guess I haven’t had much to say. I’ve been praying a lot about things. Contemplating life and asking God for clarity, wisdom, direction. There are several areas of my life where I am walking in some kind of fog. A stupor, even. I feel dazed and confused on several fronts. And I am not hearing much back. God has been mysteriously silent lately. Guess He doesn’t have much to say either at the moment.

This has been an uncomfortable place for me. I generally like to feel connected to God, and that He is directing my steps. I don’t know what this withdraw means, or quite how to process it. Oswald Chambers asks, “Has God trusted you with a silence yet?” He positions silence as a good thing; a progression in my relationship with God. Honestly, I’ve been rather insecure about it. But I do like thinking of it this way. God is growing me in the silence. Even quiet is “loud” with meaning and purpose.

I read a book recently that said the Puritans called the seasons of quiet, “God’s dreadful withdraw”. Hence, the title of my post. And I must agree it is dreadful. I do find in times when I am able to quiet my own noise, God is there. He comes in whispers I often miss in my own unsettledness. Reminds me of Elijah at the mouth of the cave. God’s not in the wind and storm. He’s in the quiet. If I can just quiet myself enough to connect with His presence. Easier said than done. Elijah had to be at the end of his rope. But I am almost there.

So, this book I just finished is about suffering. It’s called “Glorious Ruin” by Tullian Tchividjian. Yes, that is his real name. I have no idea how to pronounce it, but I did verify he is a real guy. I googled him. He is a pastor in Florida, and the grandson of Billy Graham! Anyway, T.T. had some good things to say about silence. He is who gave me the Puritan quote. He also said, “All of us experience seasons of life when God seems silent. Yet, if there is a longing for God to come back, it means we know Him – because if we did not know God, there would be no longing for His return”. That actually makes sense to me. What comfort I took in this statement! He added, “If we never knew nearness to God, the distance wouldn’t bother us”. Hmm. I think T.T. knows what I am going through.  I love how God speaks in unexpected places. Through people we don’t know, with a name we can’t even say. There’s irony in this. The silence is exactly like that.   It is foreign to us, and we struggle to say what it means. How awesome of God to use T.T. to tell me that.

At Bible study last night, the teacher added to the learning that seems to be taking place in my quiet time. We discussed the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountaintop before Peter, James, and John (Matthew chapter 17). She was talking about Peter offering to make three shelters for them to stay there. She noted that was just like Peter – interrupting, always had something to say. Peter is a good example of someone who doesn’t know how to be quiet. The teacher stops, looks at us, and says, “Ladies, we don’t always have to say something”. Then she just stared and smiled at us for an extended moment. And it was there, in her dramatic pause, when she made her point. Hmm. I do always think I have to say something. I am writer. That’s what I do. I look for ways to squeeze meaning from every experience and formulate it into something useful, relatable, and shareable. The pressure is always there to write the next post. Along with the fear, what if it doesn’t come….what if I never have anything to say ever again?!

God broke the silence last night, loud and clear. I heard, “Robyn, enjoy ME….not the words I give you. Come to Me, spend time with Me…just for ME. Every moment is not about what you can draw from it to share with others”. Ouch. How painfully true of me. And what a rare moment to be quiet enough to catch that.

Hmm. It seems there is more to this dreadful silence than I previously thought. God does have plenty to say to us in them. We all want to stay on the mountaintop but sometimes we need to be in the cave. And when we are quiet enough to actually listen, then we will hear.