Where I've Been For a Long Time ...

A post from another blog of mine, written 3/6/18:

"Silence as Worship"

For a long time now I have had a hard time praying.  (I'm talking a couple years.)  Or more accurately, I've had a hard time knowing what to pray, how to pray.

It feels like so much has gone wrong, like so many hopes have crashed and burned, like prayer isn't having any effect, like I am praying to the ceiling, like the things I pray about are what gets attacked anyway, like the burdens of life are too heavy and have shattered me into too many pieces, like there is just too much to complain about.

And so ... I have been silent.
In life.  In friendships.
And even in prayer (for the most part, compared to how I used to pray).

And this has bothered me for awhile.  Made me feel guilty, like I am failing at friendships, at my faith, as a Christian.

I was thinking about all this the other day.  Thinking about the alternative to silence.

What if I started talking?  What would I even say?

I realized that if I did start talking, start rambling in prayer, all I would do is complain.  I would lament all that was going wrong, all that felt unfair, all the broken dreams.  I would ramble on about all the things I think I need from God, all the things He isn't giving to me or doing for me.  I would be repeating all the things I've already told Him over and over again.  

And this is when it dawned on me that - with the emotional state I am in - silence is actually my way of honoring God, of worshipping Him.  Of trusting Him.  

Because I don't want to complain about what He has allowed into my life.  I don't want to focus only on the bad stuff.  I don't want to dishonor Him with my grumbling.  I don't want to keep telling Him over and over again about what I expect out of Him, about how He should answer my prayers, about how I want Him to do what I want Him to do, about how much it hurts that He isn't answering prayers my way.

I know Him too well to doubt His love, care, goodness, and sovereignty. I know Him too well to think that He isn't listening, that He doesn't care, or that He isn't going to do something about my concerns.

If opening my mouth right now means complaining ... then I choose silence.

If opening my mouth means telling Him over and over again all that I've already told Him, acting like He isn't listening or doesn't care ... then I choose silence.

If opening my mouth means that I keep talking and talking, leaving no room for Him to talk and no room for me to really hear what He has to say when He is ready to talk ... then I choose silence.

Silence is how I am worshipping Him right now.  How I bear the daily crosses.  How I am settling myself down so I can hear Him when He is ready to talk.  How I am learning to wait on His timing, to let Him do things His way.  How I show that I trust Him, even when life hurts.  

Yes, there is a time to pour it all out honestly to Him.  To grieve at His feet.  To open up every closed room of your heart to Him and share with Him every ugly thought and fear and feeling.

But when you are done doing that and yet things still haven't gotten "better" ... then it might be time to try silence.  To quiet yourself before Him in humble submission.  To stop talking about all that's bothering you and all that's going wrong ... and to simply be with Him.  To listen for Him.  To trust that He will move in His time and in His way.  To praise Him for what has gone right and the tragedies you have never had to face and the simple, hidden blessings you take for granted.  To pray for others and focus on how you can help them.  

It was a comfort to me to realize that I don't have to be ashamed of that kind of silence.

It's one thing if your silence is because you have given up on God and turned away from Him.

But it's another thing if your silence comes from knowing that you can't complain about a God who has been there for you so much in life and who has done so much for you already ... about a good, faithful Father whom you trust with your heart and soul, regardless of the broken parts of life.  

Sometimes, silence is worship.

"My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.  But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me."  Psalm 131:1-2

"But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him."  Habakkuk 2:20

(Click on it:  Hold My Heart by Tenth Avenue North.  This so totally sums up my heart's cry lately.)

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