Sunday, March 11, 2012

When Heaven Seems Silent…


I know it has been a while since I have posted. The children and I went a little over a month passing back and forth illnesses. It seemed like I could stay well for about two days before I fell victim to another ailment. I finally realized I was doing it to myself by trying to keep my normal schedule the moment I recovered, which would just send me back to square one.  After realizing I have to rest to recover, I am better. My house is a wreck, but I am healthy.

I have a topic today that I think all of us have faced at one point in our lives, seeming silence from heaven. Thankfully, I do not currently have this occurring in my life right now, but it has in the past and I’m sure will again. The most difficult time for me when this occurred was when I was investigating Mormonism. All the missionaries (and believe me, I went through quite a few of them) would tell me if I would just pray with a sincere heart, the Spirit would show me the truth of all things. Never was there a more sincere prayer on the earth. I begged. I pleaded. I wanted to know the truth. Yet, silence, was the only answer I received. He wasn’t even telling me it wasn’t true.

I was sure He wasn’t answering because their must be something wrong with me. I put a spotlight on my soul to search out anything that could be of offense to Him. I confessed every thing I could think of. I asked Him to show me the sins I hadn’t thought of. Yet, still silence. In this case, the silence was my fault. You see, Heavenly Father knew I wasn’t ready for the answer. I wanted the answer, but wasn’t ready for it. I went to a church that taught that God would allow people to be deceived in order to be vessels of wrath. My biggest fear was that I would become one of those. Deceived into believing Mormonism, in order to be an object lesson of wrath. There was so much fear in my heart, there was  no room for faith to penetrate.

Before God could answer the question I wanted the answer for, He had to show me who He really was. I had to learn that God really cared about me. I had to learn that He wasn’t the kind of parent who would lie to one of His children in order to fulfill some bigger universal, predetermined plan. I had to have faith in His character. That must have taken three years, because that is how long I prayed about the Book of Mormon and the LDS faith before I received a clear answer.

Does this mean God was silent that whole time until I learned that all important lesson? Not at all. He was there working in the background, arranging things to happen just as they needed to, in order for me to learn.

He does that for all of us. I want you to know, and really believe, that God is working in your heart and life at all times. Sometimes He is directly interacting with you through His Spirit, giving you direct communication and revelation. Other times He is working from the shadows. The book of Esther is a great example of this. Did you know that it is the only book in the entire Bible where God is not mentioned one time? It’s true. However, throughout the whole book He is there working in the shadows. Not only arranging the affairs of men, but making sure justice is dealt out as needed.  Sometimes with a  great sense of Irony, like when the wicked Haman is hung on the very gallows he had built to destroy Mordecai. The more I study this book, the more I fall in love with my Father in Heaven all over again.  The next time you read the book of Esther, note how much had to be divinely arranged to save the Israelites.

Though, we may know intellectually He is there and hasn’t forgotten us, there will be times in our lives that He seems silent. Today, I want to write four things that are helpful to me when that occurs.

1. Remember and re-count the history of God in the affairs of man.

Do you ever wonder why so many stories are repeated over and over in the Scriptures? It is for our benefit. To help us have something to bring to mind when we need it. Don’t just go over the affairs of God in the lives of the people in Scripture. Review His affairs in your life. I hope you write down important events that God has done for you, so you have something to look back on when your faith needs a push. If not, start today. Stop reading my puny blog and write down everything you can think of that God has ever done for you.

God is involved in your life, and He has promised to stay that way. One of my favorite Scriptures is Philippians 1:6

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hat begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

He is there and He is working.

2. Never forget who you are.

You are a son or daughter of the God of the universe. You are Heavenly Father’s spirit child brought forth before the foundation of the world. One day, you will return to be with Him.

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” I John 3:2

3. Know that God is righteous in ALL His ways.

This is sometimes hard. The world is full of unrighteousness. Sometimes wicked things happen to righteous people. Does that mean God no longer loves us, or we are somehow not one of the children He pays much attention to? Absolutely not. Look at Matthew 7:11.

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

We love our children more than our own lives. Yet our love is evil when compared with His great love. Think on how much more goodness that means He wants for us.

I used to think I must not be one of God’s important children because my life has not been an easy one. I wasn’t protected as a child the way some children are. As an adult I have faced equally heart breaking events. Was there something wrong with me? Did I disappoint my Father in the pre-earth existence? Not at all.

Everything Heavenly Father allows into our lives is filtered through His fingers of love. He doesn’t allow anything to come our way that He won’t give us the grace to endure. Why does He allow the hardships though?  Have you ever seen a toddler fall and struggle to get back up? What would happen if that child never fell? He would never develop all the necessary muscles to function in life. Difficulties make us strong. They make us more useful.

Doctrine & Covenants 122 goes over this quite well. Heavenly Father listed out all the tribulations Joseph Smith was to endure and why. I’ve already written a post on this, so I won’t bore you by repeating it. If you haven’t read it, you can read it here.

Another great passage that discusses this is Romans 8:28-29

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Every thing God allows into our lives is there for a purpose. It is designed to make us more like His Son Jesus Christ. It is preparing us for eternity.

4. Finally, remember that our faith is tested in the silence of God.

There is a verse in Psalms that I spent quite some time praying about its meaning. Yet, when the Spirit showed it to me, it was so obvious I wondered why I even needed to pray about it to begin with.

“The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men.” Psalm 11:4

I wanted to know what it meant that His eyelids try the children of men. I realized it meant that sometimes when it seems like God has his eyes shut to our dilemma, He is giving us an opportunity to grow our faith. We are tried by His closed eyes.  How can that grow our faith? It helps us rest in Him. To trust His character and His love. It' helps to show us if we follow the passage that says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  There is another passage in Doctrine & Covenants  that says, “Doubt not. Fear not.”  The seeming silence of Heaven shows if our heart is really ready to honor Him completely. Habakkuk puts it beautifully.

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.” 3:17-19

Remember, that when the Heavens seem silent, they really only seem that way. Our Father is still on His throne. He, the Savior, and the Spirit are working as one in our lives. They are there. Trust in them.