How many times have you laid in bed, staring upward, trying to pray, but feeling that your thoughts are being absorbed by the ceiling? Or you’re diligently reading through your Bible, hoping the Holy Spirit will speak to you, but all you get are meaningless phrases, and you’re not even in the genealogies? You’re praying, you’re reading, you’re listening, begging, for some sign of life, but all you get is silence?
If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. We’ve all been there. When I committed to writing this blog, I realized that I was going out on a limb. Because, more importantly than the recipes, media reviews, and hopefully helpful advice, I want to share my walk with God. A hundred years from now it won’t matter how the carrot cake tasted, or even what our credit rating was. Our relationship with God is eternal .
In order to share God, I must have my own growing relationship with Him. My blog calendar, where I plan out what topics I’ll cover next (yes, I do plan), has two dates every month saved for “What God has been teaching me lately.” Usually I have no problem with that, but this month has been different. I’ve prayed. I’ve read. I’ve listened. And God has been silent.
What to do? I could pull something out of my journals, some nugget of truth that God taught me years ago. Those lessons are still meaningful. In fact, there are a number of times I’ve done exactly that, sensing it was God’s desire. But this time, as I prayed and fretted, I had no peace about covering up my current struggles with past victories.
I’m not a super-Christian. My one-year Bible reading plan is in its third year (and I’m only in Psalms). My knees don’t have calluses. I get snarky and selfish and hard to live with. And sometimes I find my walk with God has led into the desert.
So, now what? Here are a few lessons I’ve learned over the years.
First and foremost, don’t give up. God is bigger than what we can sense. He’s still there. Keep praying, even if they’re only “ceiling prayers.” Keep reading. Be faithful.
Go to church, even if it seems pointless. Go through the motions. Sing praises, and take the time to really consider what the words mean. Last Sunday our church took communion. Chewing my little cracker and emptying the tiny cup was a tangible reminder that God, through the Holy Spirit, actually lives inside of me. My prayers don’t have to reach to heaven for God to hear them.
Doing these things isn’t being legalistic… it’s more a matter of staying available. You don’t want to miss the moment when God comes near.
Spend some time in introspection. Is there unconfessed sin blocking your access to God? Or have you confessed, but not changed? Repentance involves a change in direction, not just saying you’re sorry—or you’re sorry that you got caught. Are you praying prayers that He’s already answered, but you’re hoping He’ll change his mind? Sometimes God says no. Sometimes He says wait.
In my case, I finally realized that I was holding on to some things that I needed to let go of. My desire for control meant that I was trying to accomplish in my human strength something that was really God’s project. I was talking about wanting God to get the credit for my success, but I guess I didn’t really mean it. Chagrined, I handed God my to-do list, entrusted Him with the results, and asked Him to guide each day. The project is going well, and I’ve been sleeping much better knowing who’s really in charge.
If your conscience is clear, it may be that God is developing your faith muscles. We teach the same lessons to our kids. We drop them off at the nursery, promising to pick them up after the service. Yes, Mommy has to leave you with a sitter for a little while, but she’ll be back soon. They grow to trust that we’re not going to abandon them, and eventually they grow up, perhaps to go off to college, get married, and live several states away. Of course, as mere mortals, we’re not always going to be here for our kids.
Thankfully, God is always here for us. Whether we can feel His presence or not, no matter the circumstances, regardless what we’re going through, God sees us. He knows. He cares. Deserts don’t go on forever.