Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Silent Reckoning

Photo by Sylvia Kirkendoll Mercer
I finally admitted to myself that while I prayed constantly, God never answered back. No words came to me. The feelings I experienced were my own.  And the events that happened after I prayed had only the meaning I attributed to them. 

It was painful.  I had poured out my life in service to someone who did not find me worthy of a response.

Friends tried to encourage me, saying that perhaps God is so great that I simply could not understand his communication. I accepted this thought for most of my life.  But I came to the conclusion that if God was all powerful, surely he could find a way to get through to me. (BTW, the story of God sending his Son is not direct communication, either). 

In one of my final one sided conversations with this unseen, unheard entity, I said “I will continue to care for people and do the things I assume are important to you because they’re important to me, too. If you decide someday to talk to me about that, I’m right here.”  As usual, I got no response but I quit expecting one and I went about my work. 

I still prayed publicly for the sake of my people.  I reflected their thoughts and hopes.  And I relied on the liturgies written by others. But my personal outpouring stopped.


God has remained silent, too.    

6 comments:

  1. Why does God have to say anything in order for you to believe that he is speaking? Isn't that also a contradiction of what faith really is? I am sure there are many times that God didn't speak but did something in order for you to see him, especially in your ministry. It's frustrating when we can't hear him. My expectations of God might be holding me back from hearing anything he does say. After all, who am I to have expectations of God? Just a broken and remade clay pot sharing my thoughts...

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    1. Hi Paul. You’re a good minister and I’ve always appreciated your sincerity and kindness. I also you appreciate your wanting to engage in this discussion.

      Over the years, I have preached the same ideas you’re describing, which is that God is speaking but I’m not tuned in. I’m letting my expectations get in the way.

      First, you’re right in that I’ve had expectations based on promises written in scripture, because that’s what promises create: expectations. And for me they’ve been unmet.

      Second, why should God be so cryptic? Why must he be so very hard to perceive?

      Third, I have tried very hard, in every way, for all of my life to have some kind of personal experience with God to no avail.

      I’m done.

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  2. David, I've been through nearly everything you've written here, including almost verbatim what you shared about one of your last prayers. I'm not in the same place now (there really is such a thing as authentic faith that has no place for gullibility, rationalization, intellectual dishonesty, or bibliolotry). I haven't tried to make it fit into what I was taught, 99% of which was crap. But there is an important 1% that allows me to conscientiously still engage with other Christians, if I grit my teeth. But there was time, very recently, when I didn't believe anything. People say, "I couldn't live if it weren't for my faith in [my view of] God." Oh, yes you could. It's not fun, you will have no company, but it opens your eyes to simpler realities. I'm still growing. --Mark

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  3. I'm interested in how your faith has turned into something more refined.

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  4. It wasn't a refinement so much as being pulverized and totally out of options. It's different for different people, and we all have to choose our own course. The evangelicals have set up impossible criteria (e.g., blissful awareness of love of God) which I gave up years ago, since it clearly doesn't happen much.

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    1. True. I relate to the pulverized state.

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