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Sunday, May 23, 2010

When God Is Silent

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady


I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God. Ps 38:15
NIV


What do you do when God is silent? I pace, fret, and assume I’ve done something wrong. When I don’t hear His voice, I look for other voices to guide me. Thankfully, God’s silence is loud enough to overshadow doubts and other well-meaning voices.

I hugged my grandchildren goodbye. My daughter-in-law, Whitney, and her mother, Elaine planned to visit Whitney’s sick grandma and then head to the Charlotte Airport to fly to Jacksonville, Florida. I watched them drive off, already lonesome.

I cranked Halleluiah and was distracted by the domestic scene in front of me. A tiny grey mother kitty carried her babies, one by one, to a new location. She carefully and tenderly held babies by the skin on their delicate necks. I thought of my own grown children. I still had a mother’s tender heart that longed to carry babies but they didn’t need to be carried any longer. I felt a moment of nostalgia as I remembered carrying my babies from one location to another.

I put Halleluiah in reverse and realized I didn’t know where to go next. I was stunned. Since I began these journeys in 2002, I’ve always had an instinct about the next location. I panicked because I couldn’t hear God. I remembered my morning devotions with my grandchildren. Should I also have done private devotions? I sat in the car and prayed for wisdom. God was silent. Why couldn’t I hear Him? What was I doing wrong?

I called Bob. He’s never silent. “Bob, I don’t know where to go next.”

I heard the computer keys clicking. “What about Myrtle Beach. You can be there in a few hours. They’ve got a KOA. You haven’t stayed near the ocean yet.”

I hung up and called the Myrtle Beach KOA. They had room. I couldn’t make myself reserve a spot. I called Bob back.

“It doesn’t feel right. I don’t know what’s wrong. I always know where to go.”

“Maybe you can stay in Charlotte.”

“Both Charlotte campgrounds had room but I couldn’t make that reservation either,” I said.

“What about Wilmington, North Carolina?” he offered. I sighed. He was trying to help but nothing felt right.

“When you don’t know what to do, I guess you do the next right thing,” I said. “I’m going to grocery shop.” I drove across the street and filled Halleluiah with food. I still didn’t know what to do so I filled Halleluiah with gas. I ate lunch but still no word from God.

I started driving. I called Bob again. “I’m just driving. I have no idea where I am or where I’m going but I was bored sitting there. I guess when I figure out where to go, Tom Tom will figure out where I am and send me there.”

I passed a shopping mall and saw a Massage Envy. I have a membership because of my fibromyalgia and was behind in using my pre-paid massages. Maybe God wanted to give me a massage. Unfortunately, they had no openings.

I was wasting gas so I drove into the parking lot of a sandwich shop that had free Wi-Fi. I got a diet coke and was sorry I’d already eaten lunch. I briefly considered eating again but knew that wouldn’t help. I decided to sit in Halleluiah and use their free Wi-Fi until God told me what to do. I looked at my watch. Three hours wasted and I was only 3 miles from where I started. It was time for Whitney’s plane to leave so I called her.

“Are you at the gate?” I asked, picturing Ava and Noah excited about boarding the flight.

“No,” she said frantically. “We’re going to miss our flight. I have to go. Chris is calling. He’s trying to find us another flight.”

“How can I help?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said as she hung up.

Suddenly I knew why God had been silent. Whitney was going to need help. He couldn’t tell me earlier because the need hadn’t even happened yet.

I called Bob. “Whitney missed her plane. Now I know why I’ve been sitting here. God wants me to drive them to Jacksonville.”

“Their stuff won’t fit in the camper. You don’t have enough seat belts,” he argued.

“I have 2 belts in the back, 1 in the middle, and 2 in the front. That’s enough. You’re forgetting the rule about vehicles – you can always put in one more thing.”

I called Whitney back. “God hasn’t let me leave Charlotte. He wanted me to wait on you. I’ll drive you to Jacksonville.”

“Are you sure?” she asked. “We can’t get another flight out. But I don’t want to interfere with your ministry.”

“Whitney,” I said. “You and Chris donate to this ministry. Today you get your very own minister. God kept me in Charlotte for 3 ½ hours waiting on you to miss that flight. Let me help.”

“We’re sitting in the lobby of the airport. The kids haven’t even eaten yet so we’ll have to stop for lunch.” I looked at my watch. It was after 2.

“I’m going to take a minute and repack Halleluiah so I’ll have room for your stuff,” I said. “I’m 30 minutes away. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Bob called while I was repacking Halleluiah. Packing Halleluiah is his job. I’m not the most methodical person in the world and he likes knowing where things are so he can help me find stuff.

“Where are you putting things?” he asked frantically.

“Anywhere I can. Ouch!” I screamed.

What happened?” he demanded. “Are you safe?”

“I’m lowering the spare tire so I can put stuff underneath. It was hot and burned me. I’m parked and safe. Yuck.”

Now what?” he said.

“I got grease all over me.”

“Cheryle,” he said. “I didn’t think you could lift the tire by yourself.”

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I’m going to figure it out. I just wish it wasn’t so hot. I’m putting the boxes of books underneath.”

I went inside and realized that the toilette area could act as a closet.

“What are you doing now?” Bob asked.

“Stuffing stuff in the toilet.”

What?

“Well, technically, the toilet lid is closed. I’m stuffing stuff inside the toilet closet.”

“What if you need the bathroom?”

“I’ll take the stuff out. I hope no one opens this door or they will be crushed.” Bob’s blood pressure rose even more.

When I finished repacking, I headed to the airport with Bob still on the phone. It was a good thing it was Saturday or his job might have been in jeopardy.

“Cheryle, find out what airline they’re at,” Bob instructed. “You have to get in the correct lane.” Sighing again, I resisted the urge to remind Bob that I’d been driving to airports as long as he.

I drove up to find two hungry grumpy children disappointed about no airplane ride, a frazzled Mama, and a weary Nana waiting in the airport lobby with 2 giant suitcases, 2 backpacks, 2 car seats, 2 purses, and a stroller. We loaded everyone and everything in tiny Halleluiah. We stopped for fast food and drove to Jacksonville.

I felt honored to serve my children. I was like that mama kitty carefully carrying her babies to another location. I thanked God for my wonderful daughter-in-law who allowed herself to be ministered to by the ministry she supports so faithfully. Whitney’s mother, Elaine, rode in the front. She and I had known each other since 3rd grade but had never really spent any quality time together. We had hours to revisit memories and fill in the intimate details of our lives. At the end of the drive, Elaine and I left the car planning our next outing. At one of our stops, Whitney witnessed one of the Divine Encounters she makes possible through her donations. Tiny Ava rode in the middle seat. She isn’t much of a traveler but having the resources of Halleluiah available made her trip more pleasant. Noah rode in the back with his mother and enjoyed their quality time. It was a fabulous trip.

When Whitney tried to pay for the gas, I argued. “You’ve already donated to this trip. It would be like you were paying twice.”

“Take the credit card!” she insisted. I did.

I spent the night at their home, went to church with them the next morning, and hit the missionary road again. This time I knew exactly where to go and when I arrived, I met the person God had sent me there to meet.

I learned a lesson about God’s silence. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve done anything wrong or that I couldn’t hear Him talking. In fact, it wasn’t about me. The answer wasn’t prepared yet. I’d been tempted to listen to other voices more willing to speak but God’s silence spoke louder than those voices. Maybe the next time God is silent, I’ll just relax and wait.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE it!!! He is so faithful! Even in His silence! I needed to read this today. :-)

    Love&Laughter,
    Casey

    ReplyDelete