…in the early days of spiritual life, the soul often finds delight in devotional activities: We love to read the Bible, we hunger for worship we long to pray.”
-John Ortberg, Soul Keeping
i sit with my Bible, Daily Light and my journal, and stare off into space. i have experienced the life found in saturating my soul with His words, and yet, here i sit and there is nothing. i attempt to read and it all just goes right out into space and i can’t take hold of anything. i, the one who has been writing words since i learned to write, cannot form a sentence, cannot find words to pray.
“But there will come a time when God will bid them to grow deeper. He will remove the previous consolation of the soul in order to teach it….” In the dark night, my prayers feel like they reach no higher than the ceiling. In the dark night, the Bible I read turns to ashes. In the dark night, words and books and songs that once spoke to my soul now leave me cold.”
-John Orgberg, Soul Keeping (quoting The Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross. This Saint John of the Cross describes the dark night of the soul as not just the experience of suffering, but the suffering in what feels like the silence of God.)
my Rock has been silent. for quite a long time. He’s not a tame lion you see, as CS Lewis would say. and yet, He hasn’t been altogether silent. there have been the middle of the night awakenings, where His word pinpoints and brings comfort and conviction. The moments of standing at the sink of dishes and being overcome with prayers that bring me straight to my knees. He’s just been uncontrollable. and i’ve been thirsty.
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
all summer long i’ve been sitting with Psalm 19
pondering what it means that nothing is hidden from the heat of the sun and the correlation between that and “the law of the LORD, the statues of the LORD, the precepts of the LORD, the commands, the fear, the ordinances of the LORD.”
pondering that and wholeheartedly declaring as if it was my own pen which penned the words; Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins, may they not rule over me. and oh, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD my Rock and my Redeemer.
When the soul begins to enjoy the benefits of the spiritual life and then has them taken away, it becomes embittered and angry. There are some who become angry at themselves at this point, thinking that their loss of joy is a result of something they have done or have neglected to do. They will fuss and fret and do all they can to recover this consolation….Their problem is that they lack the patience that waits for whatever God would give them and when God chooses to give.
-John Ortberg Soul Keeping
as i’ve wrestled with this silence and distance, and then sudden nearness and loudness of my God-i’ve longed to tame Him. i’ve longed to figure out what caused this riff and distance between us, i’ve longed to capture His nearness that i could control it and bring it forth when i need it.
because i need Thee every hour.
because He is my strength, i cannot make it without Him.
as if His silence means His absence.
except that it doesn’t.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
and so, as i wait on Him in the darkness, i continue to show up with my Bible and Journal and pen, knowing that He is present whether i feel Him or not, whether i hear from Him or not. and when my deep longings and deepest fears wake me in the middle of the night and He meets me there with balm and communion and connection-i drink as if a child in Uganda at a freshly drilled well. i join my fellow sojourners on Sunday morning and close my eyes and breath in His word as it is spoken by them. i receive His living water when He gives it, and flip over from psalm 19 to psalm 37, where He quiets me with; “Trust – Commit – Rest – do not fret”
and i say to my soul; “Surely the darkness cannot overwhelm me, for my God is near.”
The Life series will continue-just as those thoughts come, not necessarily in series. i know i’ve been quiet here, a by-product of this season i’m in. thank you for grace.
to draw further in Psalm 37, 139, Isaiah 40, especially vs. 26-31