The Silence of God

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My hand sweeps passed the familiar spot. It’s fabric worn thin from repetition, growing softer with age. I trace the piping with my index finger, then my pinky. Reminiscent of times before — when outcomes were different.

Doubt tried to stop me, but my heart won today. I had to ask even if I don’t receive an answer. Even if I hadn’t braved the exposure, I’m certain my heart would have given me up anyway. There’s no hiding what it feels from Him.

I forget how many times I’ve had this seemingly one-sided conversation. How many times I’ve poured out, hoping to be filled up again. With resolution. No matter what form. God, please, I know You hear me. I need to know Your will on this one.

Silence.

This is when the enemy brings out his big guns. When he fires off things like rejection, solitude, insignificance, denial. Ah, but he forgets. Or hopes I have at least. That I’ve been here before and will never forget God has my best interest in mind. That no matter what, His glory will be revealed in His time. Not mine.

Sometimes I wonder, though, if these moments of silence happen because of me. Maybe my intentions were off. Maybe I didn’t hear the word ‘wait’. Or maybe I was asking the wrong question all along.

Regardless. This much I am certain:
I may ache, but I am not broken.
I may feel alone, but I am not abandoned.
I may feel pressed, but I am not crushed.

No matter what — He is holy.
No matter why — He is just.
No matter where — God is good.
No matter when — all the time.

So I wait. I search my heart. I keep seeking His face. I continue the conversation. And believe. It may be quiet, but I am still in the palm of His hand.

And when I don’t hear an answer right away, I think of this song. And take courage. In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God.
(Subscribers, click HERE to listen in)

The Silence of God” by Andrew Peterson

It’s enough to drive a man crazy; it’ll break a man’s faith
It’s enough to make him wonder if he’s ever been sane
When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the heaven’s only answer is the silence of God

It’ll shake a man’s timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God

And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they’ve got
When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
‘Cause we all get lost sometimes…

There’s a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And He’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He’s weeping all alone

And the man of all sorrows, He never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that He bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

Friends, I was going to share this last week and decided not to. But I clearly heard Him on this one. Someone needs to know they’re not alone.

I don’t know why we as Christians don’t talk about the hard times more. We make it seem like having them shows we don’t have enough faith. I’m starting to believe that’s not true. But I’ll save that for another post.

How about you? Have you been in the holy, lonesome echo before? How did it resolve? Are you in it now? How can I pray for you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Linking with:

Waiting Defines ~ Write it, Girl

I am so excited to have one of my favorite link-ups back for Round 2! I started blogging in November, 2011, and this link up was one of my first to take part in.

I was so excited for March. To write with my heart open wide and share among a community of others doing the same.

Then the words wouldn’t come.

Instead, I feel led to pull an old post out and share it with this community. I’m not sure why. Maybe because these words are still on my heart.

~~~~~~~~~~

wait·ing/ˈwātiNG/ noun.

1. The act of remaining inactive or stationary. The act of delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens.

~~~~~~~~~~

It was a bittersweet day.

Sweet because I was spending the entire day with the love of my life.
Bitter because deep down in the place we don’t like to talk about,
that’s how I was feeling.

It was the day of my next milestone. The one I’d been dreading. The day I turned 30.

You see, I wasn’t where I thought I’d be. No children in the foreseeable future. Still living in a town we originally assumed was a transitional stop for us. One I felt we were at while waiting on Him. And I was tired. Tired of the questions. Tired of not knowing. Tired of the waiting game.

So much so that I had stressed my body out. I was sure of it. After all, being late only happens when I’ve done that to myself. Oh, I assured my husband that’s all it was. Multiple tests had proved it. It was me just being silly. Overreacting to the act of waiting.

My husband did a wonderful job of listening to me, reminding me of what we had talked about so many times, and encouraging me to pray about it. Even still, in all his wisdom, we stopped by the drugstore on our way home. It was my birthday after all. And what else was he  to do after I had poured out my heart and soul over fried mushrooms?

Friends, God spoke clearly to me that night. He changed my life. First with two lines that formed a positive. Then with words spoken directly to my heart.

“My child, who are you waiting for?”

And I realized. He had been saying this to me all along. It was just the first time He had my undivided attention.

You see, I had made the biggest, most common mistake with the waiting game.

I had taken the dictionary definition literally.

I had stayed still.
Become stagnant.
To the point where I had missed Him giving me directions.

I was where I was supposed to be in this earthly world, but I wasn’t where I was supposed to be in my relationship with Him, the world that matters most.

That night was nearly 5 years ago now. A lot has changed. Primarily my perspective. For when I look back at all the times I felt God telling me to wait, and observe the outcome, I see it.

God wasn’t telling me to sit still.
He was telling me to hold on tight.

He was inviting me to trust Him.
He was asking me to hope.
He was telling me I needed more time with Him first.
He was wanting me to find contentment without it.
He was offering me a refuge. A rest before the next journey.

As far as I’m concerned, Webster couldn’t be more wrong.

I believe, as Christians, we get to choose how we define waiting. Will we perceive it as a time of standing still, waiting idly by for God to move this mountain, or will we strive to meet Him in this place. To cling to Him, lean on Him with all we have and let Him carry us through this transition. For isn’t being near to Him all that matters anyway?

I’m striving to not make the same mistake. I never want to feel so apart from God again. And by His grace, I don’t have to. From now on, my definition of waiting will be:

wait·ing/ˈwātiNG/ noun.

1. The act of hoping in Him. The act of eagerly seeking Him until He blesses the next move.

Waiting. What a defining journey.

How about you? How do you define waiting? More importantly, how does waiting define you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me. And please, click on the Write It, Girl link up button above to read more hearts open wide.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Waiting’s Blessing

Thank you so much for journeying through the act of waiting with me. It has been hard to write, possibly even hard to read, and it blesses me to know you’re striving. Just like me (you can catch up on the entire series HERE).

Today I get to share my favorite part. Waiting’s blessing. Joy discovered.

Waiting for me has been an exercise of trust. Of gut-believing that God knows me fully — better than I know myself and thus knows what is best for me and my family beyond what my vision can even grasp. When I succeed at realizing I’m ultimately blind to my own life’s path, there it is. There’s joy freely offered for me to grasp. And I get to choose. Will I pick it up, or will I opt to wallow in my own selfish pity.

I’ve struggled with knowing how to share this with you: The joy of waiting. I feel we all might have to do it our own way. I’m confident we can all obtain the same result, but how do I show what it looks like?

The only way I can come up with to describe it is to share my experience. Do you mind? If you’ll offer me grace, I’m going to try to share how waiting plays out for me in my everyday.

~~~~~~~~~~

I wake out of breath. Searching to remember why I’m already in panic mode. Did I forget something? Am I late for something? Is my family okay? And suddenly I remember.

I have a question with no answer.
I don’t know what lies ahead.
I’m in waiting.

I peel back the curtains, letting the mercy of a new day pour into my room as I breathe deep into prayer.

Lord, here I am. Ready for a new day. I’m determined to bring You glory as I choose You. Over and above all I choose You. Help me to stay focused on You, Father. This journey of waiting has been hard, but I know it will be worth it. For my primary goal is to glorify You in all I do. Show me the way I should go, Lord. Reveal to me Your will. Renew my strength. Calm my heart as I look to You this day. May you find delight in me as I delight in You. Today is for You, Lord. Let’s make it count. Together.

And all day when the devil reminds me how clueless I am at planning my own life, I remind myself; I say it out loud if I have to, but I tell myself that God has it under control. I don’t need to know. As long as I hold onto Him, this journey will end on the right path. Regardless if it is the one I was planning on originally. No. I will find contentment in knowing it was God who led me here.

So I say it. Out loud. In writing. To my family and friends. To myself in the shower I proclaim it. I remind myself:

God is in control. He’s got this. I can let it go.

And I feel it. Right there in front of me I see it. Gifts of joy given to me while waiting:

  • The light dappled through the trees, warming my face. It’s like a kiss of grace. God’s love shining down, right on me.
  • My son inviting me to dance freely, confessing to me “Sometimes, mom, you just have to show how happy you are by moving and grooving.” And I laugh and throw caution to the wind, choosing to act on his joy. Thank You, Lord, for showing me what full submission feels like.
  • And then I receive it. A personal sign that only means something to me. An encouragement that He hasn’t forgotten. He still has my best interest in mind. It’s like a hug from heaven.

Praise You, Father, that’s just what I needed to do this again tomorrow. I can do this. I can wait. I can follow Your lead.

If you keep me in tune to Your timing, Lord,
If you allow me to feel the beat of Your will,
Yes. I can do this. I can keep dancing.

Because “Sometimes we don’t fully see that in Christ,
because of Christ, through Christ,
He does give us all things good —
until we have the perspective of years.
In time, years, dust settles.
In memory, ages, God emerges.
Then when we look back, we see God’s back.”

(Ann Voskamp ~ One Thousand Gifts
pg 156)

How about you? How do you find joy while waiting? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Waiting’s Promise

This is a continuation of my thoughts on waiting. You can view the entire series of waiting HERE.

After I had a long talk with my Redeemer about missing my mark (this post), I began digging into His Word to find answers. Answers to what waiting really means. What is required of me when I am in this season of transition?

I thought it best to start at the very beginning and looked up the Hebrew and Greek definitions for the verses I’ve always associated with waiting. I now see why I was so confused. Silly English language…

First I was surprised to learn, in the Bible, there are 4 different words used in Hebrew and 3 words in Greek that mean to wait in some form.  Here are the words and definitions:

HEBREW:
quavah = to bind together, wait patiently, tarry, hope, expect, look eagerly.
yachal = to wait in hope, wait expectantly, to trust {Isaiah 51:5}
damam = grow silent, be still, wait, tarry, rest {Psa 62:5}
chakah = to wait, tarry, long for {Psa 33:20, 106:13, Isa. 30:18}

Greek:
prosdechomai = to receive, to expect, look for while waiting {Luke 12:35; Acts 24:15; Jude 1:21}
apeckdechomai = to await, eagerly expecting {Romans 8:25; 1 Cor. 1:7; Gal. 5:5}
anameno = to wait with patience and confidence {I Thess. 1:10}

NOTE: Please know I am no scholar. I did this study years ago and have lost my original sources. I do see my research supported by THIS SITE if you’d like to read more.

Now, lets start by stating the obvious. If you read all these examples, you’ll find the Old Testament verses focus more on waiting on the Lord for the pressures of everyday life. The New Testament verses focus on waiting on the second coming of Christ and the impact that should have on your everyday life. I find this fascinating, but it’s too much for me to take on in this blog post.

What you will also find by reading these examples, is that no one Biblical translation uses the actual word ‘wait’ for all of these verses, yet the original intention all define them as a means of waiting. Want to know the most common English word used to describe this action when comparing all translations?

HOPE.

I’ll use one of my most favorite passages as an example:

Lamentations 3:22-25 (NIV)

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him. 

Do you see those two phrases I put in bold? In the original Hebrew, they’re the same word. If you read this in other translations, you will find this described all kinds of different ways (and very few translations use the same phrase for both occurrences). Some translations take ‘wait’ out entirely. The most common are:

  • Hope in Him
  • Depend on Him
  • Trust Him
  • Wait on Him

Why can they do that? Because they are all one in the same based on the original context.

So what does all this mean? Again, I am no scholar, but I will share with you what it means to me.

We all go through a period of waiting in one form or another. Why, we as Christians spend our entire experience here waiting on His Second coming. By reading the verses in the New Testament, it makes me feel like the experience should become second nature. It’s not for me. Not yet. I’m still striving.

After praying and reflecting, I’m beginning to see. We’re all waiting for Him to come to our rescue. To take us to our eternal home. But that’s not enough. For God wants to teach us to wait ON Him for our everyday affairs as well. Not just FOR Him. For in Him, you will find HOPE. And this discovery will bring Him glory.

Waiting is a lesson in Complete Communion.

And I am honored to have my Jehovah want that with me.

Yes, this is something I want to strive for. As God places me in any holding pattern necessary, I will strive to use that time to seek His face. Draw nearer to Him. Enter into complete communion.

How about you? What do you strive for while waiting on Him? I’d love to hear.

And next, let’s talk about the joy discovered while waiting.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Linking this up to:

Waiting Defines

wait·ing/ˈwātiNG/ noun.

1. The act of remaining inactive or stationary. The act of delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens.

~~~~~~~~~~

It was a bittersweet day.

Sweet because I was spending the entire day with the love of my life.
Bitter because deep down in the place we don’t like to talk about,
that’s how I was feeling.

It was the day of my next milestone. The one I’d been dreading. The day I turned 30.

You see, I wasn’t where I thought I’d be. No children in the foreseeable future. Still living in a town we originally assumed was a transitional stop for us. One I felt we were at while waiting on Him. And I was tired. Tired of the questions. Tired of not knowing. Tired of the waiting game.

So much so that I had stressed my body out. I was sure of it. After all, being late only happens when I’ve done that to myself. Oh, I assured my husband that’s all it was. Multiple tests had proved it. It was me just being silly. Overreacting to the act of waiting.

My husband did a wonderful job of listening to me, reminding me of what we had talked about so many times, and encouraging me to pray about it. Even still, in all his wisdom, we stopped by the drugstore on our way home. It was my birthday after all. And what else was he  to do after I had poured out my heart and soul over fried mushrooms?

Friends, God spoke clearly to me that night. He changed my life. First with two lines that formed a positive. Then with words spoken directly to my heart.

“My child, who are you waiting for?”

And I realized. He had been saying this to me all along. It was just the first time He had my undivided attention.

You see, I had made the biggest, most common mistake with the waiting game.

I had taken the dictionary definition literally.

I had stayed still.
Become stagnant.
To the point where I had missed Him giving me directions.

I was where I was supposed to be in this earthly world, but I wasn’t where I was supposed to be in my relationship with Him, the world that matters most.

That night was nearly 5 years ago now. A lot has changed. Primarily my perspective. For when I look back at all the times I felt God telling me to wait, and observe the outcome, I see it.

God wasn’t telling me to sit still.
He was telling me to hold on tight.

He was inviting me to trust Him.
He was asking me to hope.
He was telling me I needed more time with Him first.
He was wanting me to find contentment without it.
He was offering me a refuge. A rest before the next journey.

As far as I’m concerned, Webster couldn’t be more wrong.

I believe, as Christians, we get to choose how we define waiting. Will we perceive it as a time of standing still, waiting idly by for God to move this mountain, or will we strive to meet Him in this place. To cling to Him, lean on Him with all we have and let Him carry us through this transition. For isn’t being near to Him all that matters anyway?

I’m striving to not make the same mistake. I never want to feel so apart from God again. And by His grace, I don’t have to. From now on, my definition of waiting will be:

wait·ing/ˈwātiNG/ noun.

1. The act of hoping in Him. The act of eagerly seeking Him until He blesses your next move.

Waiting. What a defining journey.

How about you? How do you define waiting? More importantly, how does waiting define you? I’d love to hear.

Next I’ll share the lessons I learned on waiting while turning to God’s Word. Will you join me?

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Am linking this post up with Word-Filled Wednesdays at Internet Cafe Devotions as well as:



The Waiting Soul ~ Music Mondays

John Newton is one of my favorite poets.
Does his name ring a bell?
I wouldn’t expect it to.
Unless you memorized the names in your hymnal as a child (like I did).

John Newton was a curate/parish priest. He, alongside his poet friend William Cowper, wrote an astounding amount of hymns in the 1700’s. A total of 348 made publication under a series of hymn books written for John’s ministry in Olney. They were known as the “Olney Hymns.”

Sadly, only 6 or so ever made publication in the hymnals we know and love here in the United States. One of them making the cut was a poem John Newton titled “Faith’s Review and Expectation~ Hymn 41.” This poem became the hymn we all know and love today as “Amazing Grace.”

~~~~~~~~~~

I heard about the Olney Hymns in college. My piano theory professor shared their story as he was assigning our final project. The project required each of us to pick one of the 348 poems and write a melody and accompaniment for it. We would play that and sing the self-composed hymn as our final in front of the class.

I had such a hard time picking my poem. Not only am I indecisive, but they each captivated me like no other. I couldn’t choose a favorite. I wanted to sing them all.

When I was contemplating what topic I would cover this week, one subject began weighing heavy on my heart:

Waiting.

This week, I plan on sharing with you what this means to me, what I’ve learned from my own experiences, and the joy I’ve found on the other side.

And when thinking of what song I wanted to start off with to introduce the topic, one of these beloved poems came to mind. May I share it with you?

(Please note, there is no known melody for this hymn. It is believed they would choose a popular melody to sing the lyrics to during their services or would simply chant the words in unison. You feel free to do what your heart hears best.)

“The Waiting Soul” by John Newton

Breathe from the gentle South, O LORD, 
And cheer me from the North;
Blow on the treasures of thy word, 
And call the spices forth!
And call the spices forth!

I wish, thou know’st, to be resigned, 
And wait with patient hope;
But hope delayed fatigues the mind, 
And drinks the spirit up,
And drinks the spirit up.

Help me to reach the distant goal;
Confirm my feeble knee;
Pity the sickness of a soul 
That faints for love of thee,
For love of thee.

Cold as I feel this heart of mine, 
Yet since I feel it so;
It yields some hope of life divine 
Within, however low,
Within, however low.

I seem forsaken and alone, 
I hear the lion roar;
And every door is shut but one, 
And that is mercy’s door,
And that is mercy’s door.

There, till the dear Deliv’rer come, 
I’ll wait with humble prayer
And when he calls his exile home, 
The Lord, shall find me there,
The Lord, shall find me there.

Oh how I love this poem. It makes my soul sing. Just what art was intended for.

I hope you’ll join me this week as we journey through the act of waiting. I’ll need all the support I can get!

How about you? What part of the hymn made your soul sing? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

NOTE: To read more about The Olney Hymns, CLICK HERE.