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Monday, October 26, 2009

The difference between silence and a whisper is to big to measure

At Towerview Baptist Church, where God has placed me as pastor, we are in the middle of an in depth study of prayer. I feel almost silly typing that. How can you "study" a conversation with the God of the universe? It ain't easy. But we are taking our time and approaching it on three levels.

Sunday morning is "Level 101." That's where we are looking at the basics of prayer. Literally the who, what, when, where, and why of prayer. On Sunday evenings we are at "Level 201" and digging into the things we can do to prepare our hearts for prayer. Things like the practice of solitude, silence, meditating on God's Word. And on Wednesday nights we are at "Level 301" and learning some of the prayer practices of the early church. For those who choose to jump in with both feet I believe that it can be life changing.

Especially for the teacher. (That's me.)

I was speaking on Sunday morning and at one particular point we were looking at "God's silence." You have probably noticed that on occasion ... okay, most of the time ... God chooses to remain pretty quiet. He doesn't seem to speak unless He has something specific He wants to say. Of course, that is not a firm rule. God doesn't have to obey rules. He's God. He can stop the world and tell us all a joke if He wants to. He just doesn't do it very often.

So anyway, there we are talking about God's propensity for frequent silence. It seems to come at the most inopportune times. For instance, God seems to often be His quietest when you want the most to hear Him. And I managed to get myself into a position where it would appear that I was about to reveal why that is so. The problem is, I have no idea. I mean, who does? God does what He wants to do when He wants to do it. But I rather sensed that those who were still awake were waiting for me to address that issue.

And that's when He spoke. Softly. Gently. Within the depths of my own spirit He pointed out something that had never occurred to me before. As I was speaking from my notes I was actually multi-tasking. I was running through a sequence of scriptures in my mind checking to see if what I thought was God's prompting was perhaps the spicy food consumed the night before. Within about 30 seconds I was convinced it was God.

I like it when God makes me look brilliant. I mean, really. I determined to teach something that was not in my notes but was impressed upon my heart. And if I got it wrong I was going to look really, really dumb. I leaned on the acrylic pulpit and referenced the prayer that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before He was crucified. He prayed three distinct and separate times. And the scripture makes it clear that He was asking God if He would mind changing the game plan for the next day. He was asking God if there was possibly a way to achieve His purposes without having to go to the cross.

And there is no recorded response from God. None. Zip. The Son of God asked His Father the same thing three times in the space of just a few minutes. And God said ... nothing.

Do you realize what that means?

It means it's okay to bug God. You have free reign to take the same request to Him over and over and over and over and over and ... well, you get the point. Don't be shy. Don't fear getting smacked. It's not going to happen. Jesus shows us the way.

And it means that God is often, at the moment of your greatest need ... silent. That really stinks. No, I mean really. THAT REALLY STINKS. Sometimes I just don't think I can take another breath unless God answers a particular question. Honestly? I've been asking God for an answer to something for years now. Just a simple "why" explanation would be more than enough. He has never once indicated that He was inclined to answer my prayer. I get more of a "lean not on your own understanding" feel than I do an expectancy that an answer is imminent. I just hate that. But it puts me in good company. Very good company indeed. Because once upon a time the Son of God asked His Father (whom He knew on a Face to Face basis) a question ... and His Father remained silent. Not a Word.

In an odd sort of way it makes me rather happy to read that. I mean, I don't want Jesus to have had to go through any more pain than necessary. But if God leaves His Son in the silence and He leaves me in the silence, well then I'm in the same camp as Jesus. So the company is not half bad.

Okay, the confession is that I'm not really brilliant. I just had my spirit tuned to "channel 1" (The God Channel) at that particular moment instead of "Channel 2" (the enemies channel) and God whispered what He wanted me to teach the people present in that worship center. And I have a very strong hunch that He was also communicating something to me. I'm pretty sure He was telling me not to expect an answer to my question any time soon.

Rats.

6 comments:

Melanie Davis said...

How timely for me Ron. Isaiah is having surgery tomorrow to try to find out why he has been having diarrhea for 3 months. I needed that word of the Lord from you. I love you all!

Mel

Anonymous said...

Ron, Ken stopped in one day and showed me your blog and from time to time I have dropped in to view it. Today as I was scrolling through I pulled up your blog, and what a timely time to do so. I have also prayed about something for s long long time, and sometimes felt that maybe I was going about it all wrong. Thanks for those words today. Monnie Simpkins

Anonymous said...

I am a bad person. Without the grace of God I truly believe I would be sunk.

In the garden Jesus knew what was going to happen and yet he asked for more time. I think these prayers are more for our understanding of prayers than His desire to go another day. As a matter of fact Jesus had to tell the disciples about these prayers after the Crucifixion because they had no way of knowing they were asleep.

Like Jesus we know the ultimate truth. Jesus will come back and redeem us. And we will be redeemed into an eternal heavenly home. That means roughly at the time we plead for mercy in our life our answer for mercy has been answered.

If we lived to a hundred and we calculated the time in heaven to be a 1,000,000 years God would have just allowed us to suffer .00001 percent of our life as he answered our prayer. So as we understand forever to be infinite we waited effectively 0 percent of our life.

Therefore we should remember that all our prayers have been answered and all pain is gone sooner than we can truly understand. God heard and knows and moreover God has a plan that we will understand later and we will be thankful.

I pray for you and I and anyone else who may read this that we suffer well and love well. That we pick up our crosses and follow Him.

jimbarnard said...

ron-
you seem to have more "channel 1" moments that the average bear... i am not saying this to boost your ego, i just think it is cool to watch and i draw a lot of encouragement from it.
glad we are hanging out tonight, i need it.

Anonymous said...

Ron,

I think Jimmy is a suck up.

But this is a very well written and thought provoking blog. I guess it is time for me to suck and say, thanks. great article

and I owe you for help with my ipod it was fantastic.

Jeff your brother.

Ron said...

Jeff ... I pay Jim to leave positive "suck-up" messages on my blog. He's so darn good at it.