In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.Luke 6:12
Those standing for their marriages after being abandoned by a straying spouse will attest to the fact that during this painful season, there can be, and are extended periods where it feels as though God’s voice has gone silent.
For so many, the perceived lack of action by God is often misinterpreted as an abandoning of sorts; or better yet, a refusal of God to hear our prayers. But this short-sided and narrow perspective is not one that is Biblical. A better understanding of how our communication with the Father works comes only with maturity, a filling of humility, and a receptive heart.
Far too often, we as believers lay our petitions and burdens before the Father with expectations of how the answers will come. We set artificial parameters that essentially place God in a box, and when events don’t unfold the way we see fit, we blame God for not hearing us and refusing to listen. The fact of the matter is, God does hear us and He is answering our prayers. We are simply too blind and focussed on self to recognize when or how His voice is being spoken.
Like many in our listening audience, during the time of my separation and divorce, I would often times be pre-occupied with the trappings of daily life and the hectic nature of balancing single-parenthood with work, church, and my spiritual war with the enemy. The moments I was able to “get away” in order to spend solitary time with God were few and far between. But as I matured in my faith, and benefited from Godly influences the Lord had placed in my life, I began to understand the importance of being intentional about the intimacy God desires with us.
In this “quest” to draw closer to my creator, the magnificence of God’s glory and power seems to be most visible and apparent in the midst of the wondrous nature that exists just outside our manufactured, urban environments. In the case of one living in East Tennessee, my escape to this place of solace meant an excursion to the Cumberland Mountains, which in my case, just so happened to be a few miles away.
I can remember one particular Saturday in the month of July, when I decided to take a day trip to the mountains by myself. I wasn’t a seasoned hiker, and to be honest, was quite naive as it related to the “dos” and “don’ts” of solitary trekking. As a result of my unpreparedness for this particular journey, not too far in, I began to grow tired and weary. But like a man on a mission, I was determined to reach the trail’s end. I pressed on despite the physical pain and very real possibility that I may have taken the wrong path. Given my proclivity for making wrong decisions up to that point, this was a real possibility.
Fortunately, my sense of direction didn’t completely fail me and I was able to stay the course. At about the midway point, I came to a resting place. I allowed my heart rate to settle and my heavy breathing to slow. In that moment of calmness, and in the midst of God’s creation, I was able to focus my mind and spirit on the goodness of the Lord. I was reminded of the fact that as long as I kept my eyes focussed on Him, the path I was to take would be made clear.
In many ways, the hike that day was a metaphor for the experiences and trials I would face in the foreseeable future. There were many distractions and alternative routes I could have taken that would have led to destruction. This was a real danger. The journey itself was also physically painful and caused the confidence I had in my ability to arrive at the final destination to be second guessed. How often does this line of questioning surface in the mind of the individual standing for his or her marriage? Truth be told, it’s a common occurrence.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:12-13
I didn’t have any sort of “supernatural” experience that day in the mountains spending time alone with God. I didn’t hear an audible voice instructing me to do this or that as it related to my future journey. For me, “finding God” in the midst of my fiery trial was strictly a matter of being still and listening. Taking in the sheer majesty of His creation and knowing that in the midst of all the glory laid before me, I had redeeming value as a child of the Eternal King, strengthened my spirit and increased my confidence and certainty of God’s ability to see me through the difficult season I felt trapped in.
Perhaps you are currently seeking the Lord but not finding Him. Rest assured, He is there, despite the stormy clouds that blur our vision. Consider temporarily throwing off the distractions and noise that can so easily cause us to lose sight of His presence. Escape to a place where you will be alone; a place where you will be able to focus and delight in His goodness and grace. God promises to make His presence known and felt for those who seek it. In those cherished moments, allow the Holy Spirit to comfort and strengthen your soul as you determine to follow Him faithfully, wherever the road He has placed you on leads.