I brush my daughter’s arm with my hand while we’re sitting in church, our eyes meet and she knows what I’m saying without words. Stop playing with your hair, its distracting me from the sermon.
I’m hanging on to every word he says because I’m feeling desperate for a phrase, a word, a song, a paragraph, a comet to land and split the roof open. Anything to help me understand why I’m here. And just when I’m doing the self-talk, wondering if I should just let her be herself, braid her damp hair in church, the pastor says it.
God is silent in the bible more than He speaks. While He is silent, He is never still.
Journals stack full of conversations with Him on my desk. Whispers of hope and purpose and future all written down in black and blue. I’m re-reading them, quite a lot lately. Because when He speaks, it changes me.
But right now, it feels like I’m stuck among a five-lane pile-up during rush hour in Los Angeles. I’ve been sitting in the hot car so long; I forgot where I’m going. And He’s in one of his more familiar moods – not very talkative. It doesn’t mean He has nothing to say.
Then the pastor, he reminds me that God usually speaks when we least expect it.
Levi met Jesus in the line behind his desk spread out with ledgers, calculators and a moneybox. Instead of talking taxes, Jesus leans over, looks him in the eyes and says, “Follow Me.” And Levi, he did. He folded up all his books in his brief case and left those people standing in line. (Luke 5:27)
God told Abraham to leave everything: the family home, all the ancestors parked on the lawn for a family cookout, the acres of land beyond them dotted cows and sheep. I can’t imagine that, but Abraham, he did it. (Genesis 12)
While Moses walks heavy with guilt about killing that Egyptian, God shows up in a burning bush and tells him to lead five million Israelites out of Egypt for forty years. And after Moses airs all his self-doubt, his reasons why he isn’t the guy for the job, he does it. (Exodus 3)
Because contact with God, it changes us, transforms us into the people we can’t imagine.
I know this isn’t exactly how each of these stories pans out, but my contemporary version, it helps wash away the despair and hopelessness that falls in the cracks sometimes and tries to grow there. I’m Moses with all the reasons why, desperate to see with binocular vision.
Following Jesus at a moment’s notice must’ve gone well for Levi. He threw Jesus a dinner party and included every sinner he knew on the guest list. And all those church people at the party? They had a fit about it. And Jesus’ response?
“Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.” Luke 5:31, MSG
I’m reciting the benediction in a whisper through the lump in my throat now. He’s here in the room for me, an outsider with a broken heart. And just like the silent exchange between my daughter and me over her hair twirling, we don’t need words to know He speaks.
Whenever he chooses to talk to me, I’m saying yes.
A repost from July 2012.
Counting gifts with Ann today and linking with Michelle and Laura.
For the Surrendering Sabbath Society and the way we are encouraging each other to rest.
For long walks that help me see Him differently in the same places.
Crock pots and leftovers on Sunday.
The way I’m seeing a group of ladies learn how to dream and pray expectant.
Coffee dates with friends.
Confirmation of calling, over and over again.
A new website almost ready to launch. Yipee!
Shelly, I read, “God is silent in the bible more than He speaks. While He is silent, He is never still.” and that was it. My eyes blurred. I’ve been here for so long, and reaching across the distance, across the vastness of the internet, you spoke right into my head, my heart, and my soul. So, so very good.
Beautiful. Thank you.
Precisely my reaction and thoughts to Shelly’s words today,Chelle. Always searching for my own thoughts and prayers spoken out by an excellent writer like Shelly. They are the words that resonate, and express what I cannot.
As I already told you earlier, I think I posted it just for you. He is awesome that way.
This is what I needed to read today. Finally. I’ve been desperate, looking in books, reading old blogs, praying, listening, hoping to find just the right words. This helped me. Thank you so much.
Thanking God with you Kim, for a timely word.
“While He is silent, He is never still.”
That line spoke to me, too, Shelly. I’m seeking an answer for him about a particulate situation myself. I wait for his voice, but I don’t hear him addressing this yet. But that doesn’t mean he’s not moving on it; he is. So your line reminds me of that again today. Thanks.
So glad Lisa, praying you hear Him today.
I’m nodding my head with this one, Shelly. I totally see God speaking to me when I least expect it these days. And it encourages me to see and hear of your strong desire to hear Him speak to you at all times in all places. Great word!
I guess its the way He gets our attention and helps us to become more alert to His presence Beth, speaking to us when we least expect it.
yes, this. and yes to your yes. and yes to whatever He asks.
Like all those yes’s!
Yes. What a good analogy, the sitting, waiting, stuck in the traffic jam! I have lately been feeling at that stuck spot… Yet, “While He is silent, He is never still,” and just as you spoke to your daughter through a silent gesture, He speaks even in the silence. Not always to give us just the answer we crave, but sometimes, just “I am with you.” Blessings to you!
I’m learning to thank Him, honestly thank Him for both, the silence and when He seems to be talkative.
Thank you Shelly for this beautiful post, expressing the deep yearning in my own heart. So often I have only myself to blame when I cannot hear His voice. I am hit and miss with my prayer-journalling since before Christmas. NEED to get back to “my first love and the things I did in the beginning” when I first knew Him. Lost intimacy…in-to-me-see. He sees and knows my heart, wretched as it is at times. But I know that even as He is silent…He IS still working.
The holidays often do that to me too Jillie. I get out of sink because I’m out of my usual routine. And while I like change and don’t enjoy being stagnant I have recently realized how important routine is to my spiritual growth. I don’t want to be stuck in it but I do realize how much it helps.
No sooner does Discouragement throw her punch but Encouragement shows up and heals the hurt. Yes, I’ve been desperate to hear Him lately too.
And God? He sends Encouragement along from the most unexpected sources sometimes.
I have to keep reminding myself: Be Still and Know, Be Still and Know, Be Still and Know…
Yes, we have to fight for the stillness don’t we Sharon? Keep the faith. Praying he speaks to you loud and clear this week my friend.
Shelly, love Luke 5:27! I needed to read that today!
Margaret, you bless me by letting me know you were here. Thankful for the timely word you found here today.
Oh yes. Silent but never still …I love that …and we don’t need words to know He speaks…I too am going to say yes…yes to His love. Blessings dear Shelly~
I’m nodding my head with you Ro. So thankful for you friend.
I think I recall this “twirling-hair” post, Shelly. Your words always twirl inside, spiraling to the depths of me. I needed to read it again, because I’m in one of those desperate-to-hear-from-Him places. And I was just re-reading an “old” journal for the past two days, realizing how incredibly important it is for me to communicate with Him in this way, because He often confirms things for me through something about which we have already interacted. That’s the beauty and importance of writing things down. The other thing is that when you journal you can trace the Lord’s hand, and realize as you say, that when He is silent, He is never still. You can see the weavings of His ways in the words He leads you to thread through your journal pages. And I can’t help but think of God as our conductor. Just because we may have stopped singing momentarily, doesn’t mean that God is not still conducting and that the music has stopped playing. But we must watch for His cue to re-enter at the right time. And even when we don’t even hear the music–in the rests–the conductor keeps the beat pattern going. Some of the most climactic scores contain long rests, and then an exciting re-emergence of sound. Think Hallelujah Chorus and that one long, pregnant pause, and the climactic re-entry of the singers and orchestra. The conductor never stops, but the music does…..and then? Glory! And this particular line of yours spoke to me in a very personal way (probably only to me and not your other readers): “He folded up all his books in his brief case.” More and more and more, I sense God leading me to put away my books for a time and just interact with HIm, praying aloud and in my journal and by reading His Word. I pray I can be brave enough to fold up all my books for the time being. As you well know, I’m a book aficionado! I read them. I write them. But I need to learn not to breathe and eat them.
Bless you dear one for following Jesus and for saying YES!
Always enjoy all your imagery Lynn. I have found the same to be true with my journaling. I’m not good about doing it every day but thankful for when I have done it and can look back and see how He was with me the whole time, even when I didn’t feel like it. You know I hadn’t planned on posting this today but He led me to it this morning in a way I didn’t expect. Seems like it was the right thing to do according to the comments today. And even if it was for one, it is worth re-posting.
OH, i’m so glad that you did!
God has never seemed more “silent” with me than He has been in the last 6 months or so. He even seems still. I have to trust that He is not… I just can’t see it. I suppose that is the whole purpose of faith. Thank you for reminding me I am not alone in my feelings.
Sarah, I had a year of Him being more silent than ever before. One of the hardest years of my life. And I leaned on my past experiences, knowing that despite the silence He was at work. And now He is speaking more clearly than He has in awhile. Keep the faith. You are not alone.
This has been close to my heart, too, Shelly, the reminder that He is moving, even when I can’t see it. I read Margaret Feinberg’s last chapter of The Organic God today, on God being beautifully mysterious, and her words and yours meld together for me. Thank you.
Love it when God does that. Provides those “sacred echoes” to use another one of Margaret’s phrases. Her books are so good aren’t they?
Yes, Shelly! I’m saying yes with you. We were reminded in our Bible study this morning that before Jesus came, God had been silent for 400 years. 400 years! Sometimes now feels even longer than that. And I wonder, in the waiting–do I let my heart soften, ready to mold like clay when the voice comes? Or does it harden like stone. Oh, I pray I am clay. Let me be clay, Lord.
400 years, oh my. I feel frail just thinking about that. And I’ve had to live that challenge in 2012 knowing I definitely had a choice about the outcome. And like you, I want to be clay. Mold me and shape me Lord, I pray.