Friday, February 19, 2010

Golden Silence

Recently I was at one of those low points. Lowest of the lows, actually…

I had been praying for wisdom and direction with a fervency that only comes in times of desperation. I honestly had no doubt that God would prevail, but from my vantage point, the waters were steadily rising. Drowning seemed imminent.

I remember one specific day when more bad news raised the water to my earlobes. In fear and in tears, I bellowed to God, “What I am supposed to do?!”

I would have scared anyone within 50 yards of me, I’m sure, but I was alone. And the reverberation of my outburst was a deafening quiet.

Then, in my mind’s ear, I heard a phrase from a joke my sons used to say when their question would fall on deaf ears. In a shrill and frantic voice they would demand,”ANSWER ME!!”

I actually laughed aloud at the recollection because it captured exactly what I was feeling. After weeks of praying, I still didn’t know what God wanted me to do and things were going from bad to worse.

Feeling like a frustrated child, I started thinking about God as my Father. I remembered the frustration my children expressed when I didn’t respond to them, and how usually there was a reason for my silence. While God is God, of course, and his ways very far above my own, I nevertheless saw parallels that made me wonder if God was indeed speaking to me through his “silence”.

1. Slippery Slope Silence
“You’re on a slippery slope,” was the warning I’d give my sons when they were headed down a verbal path that would not end well. And from time to time, they would actually hit bottom! On those occasions, love and care was still there, but the fellowship and friendship was momentarily disrupted. There could be no further discussion until the offense was addressed.

Similarly, I know there are attitudes, behaviors and choices that can disrupt my communication and communion with God. I wonder if in this silence God is saying, “I’d love to share, but there are some areas we need to address first. Remember, I’m faithful to forgive when you confess and apologize...”

2. Think About It Silence
There were times when I did not answer my sons directly because I had already told them what to do. (Often times more than once!) It would get to the point where instead of a direct answer I would simply say, “Think about it.”

I wonder if there are times when God’s silence is similar. Given that the Bible has all the life principles I need to know, as well as what he’s revealed through my experiences and the insights of others, I wonder if in this silence God is saying, “Think about it! You already know the answer to this one.” Perhaps instead of crying aloud, what I really need to be doing is giving more time to study and reflection, and applying what God has already showed to me.

3. Missing the Message Silence
You’re not listening,” was my response on those occasions when my sons were so focused on their point that they missed what I was trying to say. I often had to back up and start from the beginning to align their focus and understanding with mine.

Likewise, I know there are times when God is saying one thing, but my ears are tuned to a different channel of expectation. Might God be saying, “Yoo Whoo, over here, Tammy… Focus now. I know you have an agenda in mind, but I have a better one. Listen…”

4. Go For It! Silence
Probably my favorite no answer from Mom scenario was when I wanted my sons to experience the joy and growth of discovery on their own. “Try it and see,” would be my non-committal nudging. But, I already knew the outcome would be a positive or stretching experience that would ultimately be good for their development or understanding.

In the same way, I know that God is in the faith-building business, and that he wants me to trust him completely. While I may feel paralyzed by the fear of not knowing details, I wonder if his quiet is also saying, “Trust me! Wait till you see what’s going to happen! You’ll be just fine; stronger and wiser, too!”

5. Mute Silence
There is one other setting when I would be silent that I’d be remiss not to mention. And that would be the times I did not answer my sons because I simply wasn’t paying attention. You know, every mother has that mute switch she can turn on for all but kid emergencies.

But the beauty of this parallel is that it doesn’t parallel at all and never will. Even though I may feel like God is not listening or answering, I also know that he knows every detail, every issue and every pain I am struggling with. While I may not be hearing him, he is no less present.

So I guess the bottom line is, even though I feel like I’m in a pit, filling with water that’s up to my neck. I must not be in any real danger. My Father is loving and watching out for me more closely than I ever could for my own sons. Which means in this time of golden silence, I must have some growing, reflecting, better listening, discovering, trusting; and yes, even confessing, to do.

Here’s to going for the gold!


The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love him… (Psalms 145:17-20a)

1 comment:

  1. What a tremendous and timely message. These words, so fitting and so true, almost mirroring my exact exasperations last week.

    Thank you for "stretching" me through your faithfulness.