Tuesday, April 7, 2009

When God Seem Silent

Twenty five years ago, about the time this picture was taken, I began to write a book, mostly for me. The title was going to be When The Heavens are Brass, a poetic description of how we often feel when our prayers are unanswered and God appears to be silent. I was the early 80’s and God was giving me some pretty specific life directions when my world fell absolutely apart. Memory now is fuzzy but it began with the death of my Grandfather, then my grandmother, then a 6 week bout with cancer took my mother. On the way to see her when we got the news she had weeks to live, the engine on my 2 year old car blew up leaving us stranded 2 hours short of our destination in the middle of the night miles outside of 29 Palms. It took 4 months to get it fixed and it was my only car. But I still had 5 kids to get back and forth to California 4 more times in the back of a borrowed Chevy Nova, but that is a story in itself. I entered a business relationship with a friend where fire, flood, theft and his declining health led to its demise and a monstrous debt to repay. Then my partner died. We had 5 small children to provide for and a debt 5 times my annual salary. Believing God had given me my life’s instructions, turned down an opportunity for a pastorate about 2 hours from my (and Deanna’s) parents houses. That church was much larger, had it’s own oil well, really, and offered to build me my own house on 5 acres plus the salary to pay for it. The pressure for me was great and to be honest I did not handle it all that well. Sure, I put on the preacher face when in public but I was so critically wounded in spirit. I felt (Thank you Father for your grace and forgivness for this) abandoned and betrayed by God. All the praying, tears, fighting, anger and every other thing I tried seemed to move God one bit. I was crushed beyond recognition and could tell NO ONE. Of course Deanna knew and my kids felt it but never knew what it was. The one prayer I was aware of that God profoundly answered was for my children. I was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, totally broken in spirit but I begged God to protect my children from my decisions and their consequences. The business failure and not going to the bigger church pretty much guaranteed we would be poor. Fortunately we lived in a title one area so free school lunches for the kids was a blessing. God provided everything for the children all those years…in abundance. In their memory today we were RICH back then. Everything that was important to them was available from designer cloths to Disneyland trips. I didn’t pay for any of it. I couldn’t. Thank you again Jesus. There was a ton of other lesser pains and pressures at the time but you get the drift of things, probably been there yourself. So why didn’t God answer me. Was He as totally disinterested as I felt he was? I don’t have all the answers to that today, but I do have some. Although I prayed, begged, and definitely yelled loud enough for a god of stone to hear, the one thing I did not do early on was LISTEN. I spent all my time in the arguments I had with God…ok I called them prayers but if you would have observed me from a distance you would have thought it was an argument…telling Him HOW, When and Why He had to fix my problems. It was a long time before I finally ran out of physical and emotional energy to keep the argument going and could listen. What I know now is that God was not silent, I was just not taking time to listen. The other thing I did not do was surrender my will up front to be obedient to whatever God wanted from me, thereby MISSING what He was definitely doing the whole time. Sure my plan was to be obedient, but I wanted time to consider the options, tweak it with my keen insights, you know, just in case God missed something. I fooled myself into believing true obedience contained any opt out clause. I think I may have developed the original Hedge Fund. Thank God I lost my battle and learned. Sort of. I had a bigger do over some years later, but that one was more like Jacob wrestling with God. It was quite literally life and death. Sorry, I don’t have the freedom to put that story in print. Call me, I will tell you of God’s amazing delivering power. My wife says it is one of the truest miracles she has ever witnessed. It was over when He broke me with His incomprehensible infinite love. Today I am back there again…well not really back there, same song third verse EXCEPT this time I am taking time to listen AND negotiations with God is NOT an option. I have already agreed to cooperate in whatever He is doing because I have total confidence (ok probably more like almost total) in His Love and plans for me and he promises they are GOOD. Doni just emailed the chorus of a new son Unredeemed, from Annie Smiths blog. Click the link to listen to it. It will only be available for 3 days!: I love it:

Where grace is
Soon to be so amazing
They may unfulfilled
They may unrestored
But when anything that's shattered
Is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see
It will not be


1 comment:

Doni Brinkman said...

I love when you retell the stories of your hardships when we were young because it serves as wonderful evidence at how gracious God was. Us kids weren't aware of a thing - we didn't miss a thing- we had an amazing childhood with precious memories (including that walk to the airport in the dead of night carrying the younger boys in pillow cases). Daniel and I discussed yesterday what an incredible dad we have. Love you. P.S. The song is from Selah's new album. Angie is Todd's wife - he is in the trio Selah. She carried a baby last year that was terminal and as you can imagine, this song has whole new depths for Todd and Angie.