Tuesday, September 27, 2011

His gift of SILENCE

Where do I begin? The rendering of emotion into word on page is not as eloquent at times. Today is such that time...but yet,with urgency I feel the need to write, to pour, to cleanse and reorganize. Not in poetic form, or attractive syntax, but in the spilling out of vulnerable awakened heart.

For a couple of weeks now I've grappled with a lack of peace. At first I attributed it to the move,the busy-ness of school and fall schedules and assumed that once we struck the chord of routine, that peace would return. But it didn't. This lack of peace has been gnawing away at me. I've been praying about it, trying to identify the source, reflecting on life, things, the condition of my heart. I haven't been able to quite put my finger on it until this morning.

You'd think that after a long season in the wilderness, that God's deliverance into a new home of our own, a new season in life, would produce nothing less than a peaceful heart. I function best when this heart of mine is stripped, transparent, raw and vulnerable. Lately, it's felt covered, masked, hidden. There is no peace in this.

So this morning, as I am giving Him the firstfruits of my day (an old habit I am trying to reintroduce to my schedule), before any other eye in the house has opened, I begin my Bible study. Our women's group is currently studying Kelly Minter's "No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern-Day Idols." It's a study that a friend and I had begun a few summers ago, but hadn't finished. Sobering that some of my modern-day idols and struggles then, are the same ones I have today. Oh Lord, there's so much work to be done in me!

We began our study identifying what idols are in our lives. In biblical terms, "it is something other than God that we set our heart on, that motivates us, that masters and rules us, or that we trust, fear, or serve." These can be good things, like family and career...but an overattachment to these things, a dependence on them, allows them to become a substitute for God. When they consume us, we are making them our idols.

This week we are studying why we even have idols? What makes us choose them; why are they so appealing? A few of the reasons we are covering are: Identity (they can define who we are. example: Family, being a mother, etc. Career, being a provider, etc.), Need ("many of us run to idols because we are convinced they will bring us what we need"), Pain (we run to them when we are in pain), and Silence ("often when the Lord is quiet, or when He is not acting on our behalf in the way we thought or hoped He would, we decide that we are on our own- that we need to look out for ourselves.").

Only a paragraph into Day 4's homework on silence this morning, and the tears began flowing. I couldn't understand my extreme sensitivity, but allowed God to bring clarity by reading through the lesson in depth (twice), allowing it to sink in and penetrate, and by taking an up close and personal (and uncomfortable) look at my heart. My season of silence crisp on my mind. Deliverance just a short glance back in my rearview mirror. Tears flowing fresh in remembrance. I can relate so much to the Israelites. I felt like we were wandering in the wilderness for such a long season. Memories of a bitter, dark and lonely winter with pain that cuts deep. Feeling forgotten. Forsaken. That He was not for me. Such wavering faith, not able to withstand the harsh winds of circumstance. The doubt and momentary hopelessness. Ashamed of my lack of faith. Oh Lord, if done again, I pray I would handle such storms with more strength and grace. I see now, Your silence was my gift.

Kelly Minter writes, "Throughout scripture we see God silencing or removing Himself for a time for different purposes. Sometimes it was sin related, but often it had nothing to do with any wrongdoing on anyone's part; it was a test or a growth period for His children." My natural propensity is to assume God is punishing me. This season taught me firsthand that this is not always the case. This season allowed me to fully understand His goodness. The winter of the soul was for my good. The long drought. The waiting. The silence. It has all been for my good. I've lived out Romans 8:28 and His faithfulness overwhelms me.

And moving back to those Israelites...when Moses was on the mountain with God, writing out those famous 10 commandments, the Israelites could not wait for him to return and begged Aaron to make them idols to worship. In their season of waiting and silence, they turned to idols. Not only did they turn to idols, but they made the idols out of the gold that God had given them when they plundered the Egyptians and were finally freed from slavery. The gold God gave them as gifts (as if they needed more than freedom from captivity) was just another way God can pour out His goodness and unexpectedly lavish us with His love. Yet, they turned God's gifts into gods. How different am I?

The Lord gifted me with His silence to teach me that true joy is found in Him and not in what He can give or provide. That my treasure was Him and Him alone, not His blessings. My season of silence taught me that when all is stripped away, I am complete and full in Him, that nothing else really matters. I learned that He is indeed faithful...Faithful beyond measure. That His ways are better than my own. That He longs to bless us with His goodness. That our waiting is worth it because He works all things out for our good. That He is, in truth, FOR us. All things I knew with my head but needed to learn with my heart. His faithfulness is now engraved like a tattoo upon it. Lord, Your silence was a gift.

So, where does that bring me today? Why the fresh tears? Why the unidentifiable lack of peace? Yes, I am grateful for His gift of silence for all that it taught me and how it strengthened my faith. But the tears fell this morning in revelation to the fact that somewhere in the intermixing of silence and deliverance I have allowed life to crowd Him out of His rightful place on the throne of my heart.

Oh jealous God, One who will not share- I'm sorry I have unintentionally crowded You out. Allowing Your deliverance and gifts to shift my focus and priority in seeking You first. Letting "life" and "routine" and role of "wife" and "mother" and "homemaker" to swallow me. All good gifts that can too easily push You off Your seat. Consume me once again! Occupy every ounce of my heart so that there isn't an inch of room for anything else but You and You alone. Do not allow me to turn Your gifts into gods. To be consumed with the things you give (or don't give). If that's the case, take them away! I beg of you, remove them all! Make me barren and bare. Strip me down till I am naked and nothing...if what I desire more than You are the things you can give or provide. If I am consumed or preoccupied with anything but You, if I am not seeking You first...do what you will to bring me back to an authentic place of worship. Above material things, above peace, above comfort and security, above contentment and joy, above deliverance or change in circumstance- I choose You! The rest will follow as a result, and if by chance some of it doesn't, it shall not matter because my true depravity is when You are not occupying the throne of my heart.

I understand that my true joy lies in You. I can taste it because Your season of silence allowed me to acquire and crave it. It filled and satiated me in ways nothing else can. It left me salivating for more. I want that again. I don't desire what You can give. I desire You. I don't desire the things of this world that momentarily bring pleasure but too easily lead astray, I desire You. I know You want the same from me- not wanting anything less than my heart, my all.

Tears fallen this morning, bringing revelation and repentance. Leaving surpassing peace in return. A concoction that both exhausts and invigorates a sleepened heart. All birthed out of Your season of silence. Where else could I have learned to long for you? Your silence. A gift extraordinaire.

Exalting the One deserving of all my praise.
Join me.

1 comment:

  1. Love you Amanda! So thankful for God's gifts in your life and the treasures that he has given you! No other gods before Him! Praise to the great and almight God. Who was and is to come!