Daddy, no doubt tired of my incessant 20-month-old babble, had grown silent. Silence and I get along as well as tornados and trailers. We didn’t use seatbelts back then, much less car seats. I crawled my way over to Daddy and planted a chubby little hand on each of his cheeks. Jerking his face toward me, I declared, “Wook at me when I’m talking to woo.”
So, yeah, I’ve had a thing about silence from a father figure for a while now. Recently, my heavenly Father went silent on me. He’s done this a handful of times in my twenty-seven year walk with Him. You can just imagine how well I respond to it. That Presence that is as real as a heartbeat, as my next breath, goes still. Quiet. Unnoticeable. There’s nothing to check my thoughts against. No inner compass. No guide. No direction. Nothing. Just quiet.
I begged. Pleaded. Raged. Cajoled. Altered behavior. Changed course. Resumed course. Gave my own silent treatment (because that’s such a wise thing to do – attempt to manipulate GOD). Still, nothing.
Exhausted from my attempts to goad Him, I quit. Last Saturday night, I sat down in the doorway of my two-year-old daughter’s bedroom. Ella had tried every toddler stall tactic in the book to withstand bedtime.
A drink. “No, Ella. It’s bedtime. Go to sleep. I love you. Goodnight.”
Another trip to the bathroom. “No, Ella. It’s bedtime. Go to sleep. I love you. Goodnight.”
Something to cuddle. “No, Ella. Go to sleep. I love you. Goodnight.”
Another book. “Go to sleep. I love you. Goodnight.”
A different pillow.
On and on she went. After a while, I quit responding. My heart ached. I hate telling my kids no. I always second-guess if I have to say no in that moment. I thought it through and knew my responses were only giving her the idea that the conversation needed to continue. She hadn’t asked for anything extraordinary. As the parent, however, I knew she needed to put herself to sleep and rest more than she needed any of her requests met.
Which is about the time that nudging came. Nothing giant. No Damascus Road blinding light. More like a subtle clearing of the throat. But I knew that Presence. I knew that Voice. I sat up.
Reviewed my thought process.
You’re kidding. THAT’s why you’re quiet? So I’ll REST?
If you know me, you know I’m never still. Ever. If I’m still, I’m dead or have fainted. I keep the caffeine drip of Diet Mt Dew up all day long. Some burn the candle at both ends. I say a candle with two lights can light up two more pretty quickly. I’m fairly faithful to take everything to God – to run it by Him, ask Him to do this or cause that if He needs me to know something.
I’m not so good at sitting down and waiting on Him to speak. I bring him topics, ask for His input, and race on. But what about just coming into His presence and having Him choose the topic? What about resting and letting Him lead the conversation?
I took the next day – ironically, Sunday – to rest. He talked. I listened. Okay, I argued. He loves me and gives me grace to do that. (Whew.) He got some stuff on the table I’d been neglecting. Let me see His perspective on my walk. Still no Damascus Road moments. At the end of the day, my life wasn’t sewn up perfectly.
But He was back. Which meant I could breathe again and know that it isn’t always about taking the next step forward, even if I’m checking that step through with Him.
Sometimes, it’s about shutting up and lying down.