One of the best ways for my hubby and I to communicate is through text messaging. He doesn't have the luxury to answer calls at work, and can be very busy when he's there. So sending him a text message means he can check and reply at his best convenience. It's a trustworthy form of communication for us.
But Neal and I had a communication breakdown this week.
When I texted him to get a 2nd box of medication when he went to the store for me, he came home with one just like written the list had said.
When I griped to him about a loved one I was frustrated with, he seemingly ignored me.
When I asked him where the sore throat spray he'd been using was for Victoria, he never came back with an answer.
When I asked him to stop for groceries on his way home, he didn't get my message.
And when I told him I needed chocolate, I ended up having to go without.
We had a serious communication breakdown. It was out of character and extremely frustrating.
When I didn't get my chocolate, it meant it was time to take the bull by the horns and address the problem. I asked Neal why he hadn't been answering my messages and he assured me he hadn't gotten any. I showed him my screen that they had been sent, and he showed me his screen and that they'd never arrived.
That was when Neal remembered he had gotten a notification on the screen of his Android phone earlier that week that said it was low on memory, and neither of us realized what that meant. What it meant was that for a couple of days there, every time I sent him a text message it got lost up in cyber space and I got caught in a little frustration when he didn't answer me back.
It was a simple fix, he deleted a long back log of messages and before I could even type in a test message to send him, his phone chimed, and all my missing messages arrived, the edited grocery list, the family member complaint, the location inquiry, even my request for chocolate. Problem solved.
It's not the first time I've felt that kind of frustration, it's just the first time I felt it with my husband. He's never been one to reply to my requests with silence. God on the other hand...
Have you ever had the sense that your prayers have somehow just seemed to melt somewhere between your heart and heaven?
If only that challenge were as easily rectified as my communication breakdown with my husband. "God, I sent you a message, did you get it?" Turning my "prayer screen toward Him."
What would the Lord reply?
"No, I didn't get it." Turning His "screen" toward me.
What would the error message on His phone be?
"Outside of God's will"?
These are the questions that have run through my head. Along with "Is He mad at me?" or "Does He care?"
Silence is hard to weather.
It's a great temptation in those times and seasons to get really focused on the prayer and it's answer, or lack thereof. It's easy to get tempted to transition from questioning God to accusing Him.
And that my friends, is a dangerous place to be.
I have heard people preach the mini-sermon, and I am sure you have too, "God always answers our prayers, but sometimes the answer is 'no' or 'wait.'" Well, I don't know about you, but I have found that to be cold comfort in those days of wondering and waiting. It's a really tough place to be. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick," says the book of Proverbs. Unanswered prayer, surely is a deference of hope.
It's in those times when our hope feels put off that we have to take our eyes off of the hope, and put them on the One we have placed our hope in.
It's in those times when we have to remember it isn't about the opportunity to ask, but in the relationship that offers the privilege of asking.
It isn't about the need, it's about the One who has promised to meet us in all our needs.
It isn't about the desire, it's about the One who longs to be the Greatest Desire of our hearts.
It's about look past circumstance and focusing fully on the character of the One we have asked.
It's about remembering we were told, to ask, seek, knock... keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. Not because God gets some great joy out of keeping us in limbo, but I think rather He takes great pleasure in receiving more of us, and is blessed by the faith that doesn't give up on Him, even when we don't see Him move.
Because the fact is, if we belong to the Lord, we know He hears us. There's nothing wrong with His reception, there's no malfunction between our heart and heaven, but God is all about the process, and far less concerned with the end result. Whereas we see only point A and point B, the Father is found in the process between them.
So perhaps we should consider those quiet wandering days differently. Have you ever sat comfortably in silence with someone you love? Have you felt the intimacy of sitting beside someone that you know loves and cares for you, and not felt the need to speak? A relationship like that is a special one, the comfort of an intimate silence.
We must realize God is with us sitting in the silence as we wait. He is not afar off, He is near. He longs for us to rest in His presence, trusting in Who He is, more than just what He does. He longs for us to wait confidently, knowing His love, even in the silence.