In The Silence
Knee bound and flooded with rain, I lean forward until my face is pressed against the floor. The carpet is wet with my tears now, my hands gripping and releasing nothingness over and over again.
I have fought. I am tired. My battle torn spirit longs to rest in green pastures, but all I have is this quiet patch of floor in this lonely, little home.
I'm here. I don't have much left, but it's Yours, God. I need you now more than ever. Tell me what to do.
I try my best to quiet my own thoughts.
I listen, and wait, and listen, and wait.
Don't you see me here Lord? Don't you hear the strains and aches of my heart? You're supposed to love me, so why are you sitting there and just watching me curl into myself alone?! Answer me! Give me something, anything!
I had not felt God's presence in some time, and despite my best efforts to bend His arm, He did not speak to me that day either. Nor did He speak to me the next day, or the next, or the next. It stretched on for months.
I was not still, I did not rest in Him. I thrashed and kicked against the silence. I felt completely stuck.
Until one night, I had a dream.
I was standing on a hilltop underneath a dark and starry sky. I looked down into the valley below and saw a small town. The windows were all dimmed and the wind swept between the buildings uninterrupted. Empty. Dead.
I felt a presence to my left and as I turned, I saw a statuesque figure on a pearly horse. I don't know if the figure was holding a flaming torch, or if they were alight themselves, but something about their presence was fire. Deep, relentless fire.
Suddenly horse and rider thundered down into the valley and I looked on as they set the whole town ablaze. I watched it all burn to the ground until there was nothing but ashes, and woke up drenched in sweat, heart pounding, shaken.
I usually find that my dreams can be fickle things, the clarity of the images I see behind my eyelids at night seem to turn fuzzy and dissolve away as my head leaves the pillow. But, this dream was something all together different. It was like for a moment, just a moment, a gentle breeze had parted the veil separating this world and the next, and I glimpsed something beyond that was truer than my own reality.
I saw that town being pulled apart by hungry flames and knew in my heart that I was amongst the bricks and timber and tar. This was a village of my own creation, and it was built on sin. God was promising me restoration. With His refining fire, He was burning everything away, so I could build anew on a foundation of Him.
In a time where I felt like God was so far away from me that He was a speck on the horizon, He leaned in and whispered in my ear. He stepped into the void and filled it with love.
It reminds me of this excerpt from the Jewish Midrash, which describes the moment God spoke to His people at Mount Sinai:
"When God gave the Torah no bird twittered, no fowl flew, no ox lowed, none of the Ophanim stirred a wing, the Seraphim did not say 'Holy, Holy,' the sea did not roar, the creatures spoke not, the whole world was hushed into breathless silence and the Voice went forth: I am the Lord your God."
All of Heaven and Earth stood still in anticipation, and then the Lord spoke into the silence.
Maybe in the moments where we feel our world is standing still, we aren't actually stuck with crossed arms and tied tongues. Maybe instead, our spirits are hushed into breathless silence, palms to the sky, ready to receive.
Sometimes I think we feel that to grow we must add to ourselves, but I've come to see that my journey with God is often a process of being unravelled. In the quiet, in the stillness, in the lonely moments of doubt, God is peeling back the layers: the reverent and pretty prayers, the good deeds, the religious righteousness, the pride. He removes all the little things we try to hide behind until the only thing that is left is a true and ugly prayer whispered into a lonely patch of tear sodden carpet.
He leads us to the honesty He desires from us, as raw as it can be. He shows us the heart He has seen within us all along. He is unmaking us, burning away what we built on anything less than Him.
What we call waiting, God calls preparation. What we call hardship, God calls growth. What we call silence is the inhale before God breathes life into the parts of us that have grown barren and dry.
Are you in the middle of spiritual peaks right now? Let yourself be unmade in the valley between. As your whole world draws into silence, and the only sound you can hear is the crackling of God's refining fires transforming you from the inside out, be still. This is the prelude to greatness. This is the silence into which He speaks.
'He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'" Psalm 46:10
by Mia Isaac