16 March 2011

emptiness or divine quiet?

The past week has been given over to fasting and prayer. We as a church have collectively started our Lent season this way in the hopes of seeing a spiritual breakthrough and renewal among our congregation. Personally, I do not enjoy fasting, and that's fine to admit - it is the voice of God that I am seeking, not the absence of food.

Because we are in a church which is riddled with much spiritual warfare and internal conflict, we knew that this was going to be a significant undertaking. And, indeed, in the weeks of planning and preparation we saw a number of things that could only be described as attacks from the enemy. Certainly this would be an intense time of fasting and prayer.

My personal experience with the fast is something that I never quite anticipated. My initial reaction to the fast was that I felt empty. I know, right? You're supposed to feel empty . . . that's the deal with a fast. But I am talking about something deeper than the physical. In essence, I felt nothing. And this nothingness has become quite hard to explain.

At first, it was as though I had lost all desire, drive, interest, motivation . . . it was nothing. A person can handle this for a day or two, but then things start to become unnerving. Was I not doing it right? Was God not happy with me for some reason? Am I not able to enter into spiritual warfare on this level? What is happening?

What initially left me confused has now perhaps come to a fuller revelation. Sometimes we wait to hear God, but we want him to speak on our terms. This, of course, he does not typically do - for his ways are not our ways. There I was, sitting in the cave of the mountain waiting for God to come in a fire, earthquake, mighty wind . . . something. But he came and spoke most profoundly in such a deafening silence that my soul could barely endure.

Without noise, distraction, or the roaring conflicts of spiritual warfare filling my heart, my home, my family, or even at the church, there stood the Almighty. And his voice had once again spoken to the raging storms of creation, "Peace; be still." When all is said and done there can be no greater gift for me right now that the stillness of the divine presence. Of course, he knew that long before my shallowness could understand it.

Hence, I am left with a threefold understanding of his nature: 1) Every gift from him is a good and perfect gift; 2) We will never, ever be prepared to be approached by him; 3) Wherever we are, he will come and take us where we need to be.

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