Questions and Answers

It's good to be back!  I'd like to welcome the new subscribers.  As you can see from looking at the date of the previous post, I've been "gone" for over a week now.  Call it a sabbatical, a rest break, a time of prayer -- whichever you like.  All I can say is that I needed some time to set a few things straight.  Allow me to take a few minutes to share with you what I've gone through the past couple of weeks.  Perhaps my time off and lessons learned will aid you in some part of your journey.  I'll begin with a story from Scripture.

And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him. Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream. Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me. - Daniel 2:1-5a

Poor Nebuchadnezzar!  Not only was he having nightmares that he couldn't understand, but he couldn't even remember what the dreams were.  He knew they were important, but as hard as he tried, he simply could not recall what he dreamed.  No memory.  No comprehension.

Beginning a couple of weeks ago, I started to empathize with the dreamy king, only my situation didn't involve dreams but questions.  There was a stirring in my soul and spirit--a longing, you could say--but for what, I had no idea.  I felt like I needed to search for answers to my questions, but as hard as I tried, I couldn't figure out what the questions were.  I was confused and discouraged, and for the life of me, I couldn't identify the source of that confusion or discouragement.  I had not faced a traumatic event.  I was not in the midst of a life-threatening storm.  I wasn't really even in a valley.  But in the blink of an eye, I went from fine to frustrated.  Have you ever felt like that?  The psalmist is Psalm 77 did.  In fact, he spelled out my feelings better than I could.

I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. - Psalm 77:1-6

I cried unto the Lord?  Oh, yeah.  There was a lot of crying.  

My soul refused to be comforted?  Most definitely.  No matter how hard I prayed or how much I sought to find the solution (or even the cause) of my predicament, something just wasn't right.  

I remembered God and was troubled?  Sounds strange, but I know exactly what the author means.  When I thought about God, His goodness and His blessings, I became even more frustrated because it reminded me that I had no reason to feel the way I did.  It also helped me to see the ever-widening space between us.  I was drifting and couldn't figure out how to stop myself.  

I am so troubled that I cannot speak?  I tried to pray.  I really did.  I knew I needed to talk to God and that I needed to hear from Him.  But since I didn't know what was wrong and couldn't even understand how I felt, I couldn't find the words to speak.  I stuttered and stammered and finally quit trying altogether.

I call to remembrance my song in the night?  I thought back on other times that I have felt uncertain and remembered how God granted peace.  I tried to sing praises to Him, but to be honest, my heart was not in it.

I commune with mine own heart; my spirit made diligent search?  Oh, buddy, you have no idea.  Time after time, I looked inward and screamed, "What's wrong with me?  Why do I feel this way?  What is up?"

I poured out my heart as best I could to Jason, trying to explain what I was feeling and how frustrated I was that I couldn't speak to the Lord as I wanted to.  His suggestion, as always, was blunt and to the point (just the way I need it, even though I don't always like it).  "Maybe you need to stop trying to talk so much and just be still and listen.  Stop trying to figure things out.  Just stop.  Be still and listen."

So, that's what I've been doing for the past week or so.  Listening.  And let me tell you, God has had a lot to say.  I wish I could tell you that I've gotten all the answers and that my soul is perfectly at peace, but I'm afraid I haven't reached that point just yet.  But that's okay because I'm learning right now.  I'm learning that my life isn't determined by how I feel but rather what I know.  I'm learning that I don't always have to have the answers to be happy and complete in Christ.  I'm learning that God's work (and even His blessings) can sometimes distract me from focusing on God Himself.  I'm learning that I am a work in progress, and I still have a long way to go.  Nevertheless, God will never give up on me. . . even when I've given up on Him.

I don't know what questions you may be facing today.  In fact, you may not know either.  But that's okay.  There is One who knows.  He's in control.  He's watching out for us.  And He will give us the questions and answers we seek when He knows we can handle them.  In the meantime, let's just be still and listen.  It's amazing what we can hear, when we're not busy trying to figure everything out.  Take Jason's advice.  Just stop.  Be still and listen.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. - Psalm 43:5

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. - Psalm 46:10