It’s hard to say which is more difficult for a person: to step out into the unknown by faith to do what God is calling…or to wait in the silence by faith for what He is going to do. Both require eyes to see beyond the pressing circumstances. Both call for trust in His goodness and hope in His promises. Both can feel like they are stretching you right in two. But there is something particularly ragged about reaching the end of yourself– when you pour out the longings of your heart till there’s nothing left but raw vulnerability– and waiting there for God to show up and do what you cannot.
Just ask Hannah how she felt when she wept and prayed in the temple at Shiloh year after year, till she was so brokenhearted that old Eli thought she had lost her senses. Or Naomi packing up the remnants of a life, with nothing but a foreign daughter-in-law to show for her years; “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21) And then there is David, hiding in the desert caves from the King he had pledged his life to serve– the man who had welcomed him into his palace and his family, and now wanted to kill him. His song resonates with all those who wait: “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1) And each of these found in the depth of their need that God’s plans were abundantly more than they could ask, and His presence with them sufficient for their needs.
Perhaps in our desire to avoid pain we sometimes fail to see the Love that presses hard, the implacable mercy of the One who will stop at nothing less than the complete transformation of our souls. Maybe when we are finally empty of ourselves, and our own voices fall silent, there is room for Him to come in all His fulness and speak His answers into our stillness. Maybe in the waiting we finally realize what we want most of all, and can ask for the right things. And when we do reach the end of ourselves, we often find that the desert places are rich with the secret blessings of His presence.
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”PSALM 73:25-26
“How often have I found myself asking for relief for those I love, just simple blessed relief from the grinding pressure of the stones: but would not another, a braver, deeper kind of prayer help them far more?…Let us pray alongside our Lord as He makes of mortal souls, through pressure, something that will be used for the life of the world…”Amy Carmichael