“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10
Have you ever sat with the Lord just waiting for him to speak. “Hello, Lord? Do you hear me? I could use some answers down here.”
“Jesus? Abba? Holy Spirit?”
“Okay Lord, I know you really are trying to teach me something here, but I’m not getting it. I need CLEAR answers. I need neon flashing signs, blaring sirens, and an idiot-proof message that I can’t mess up. You’re also going to have to throw in some instructions on how to follow through with said message, and a full dose of courage if you’re asking me to do something out of my comfort zone.”
So many times, when I have been struggling in life or simply stuck in buffering mode and inaction, I have cried out to God for help. I waited patiently – or not so patiently – for God to simply tell me what to do. I knew in my heart that he heard me, but on my end, I got one of two things. Either resounding silence, or pure thought chaos – which at best, was coming from my own mind. Neither of these were the answers I was looking for.
The truth is, being a disciple is hard. While we are never left alone, God often uses the silence to reach us in ways that we cannot comprehend. It can feel frustrating or sometimes, downright painful.
“During painful times, when you feel a terrible void, think how God is enlarging the capacity of your soul so that it can receive Him – making it, as it were, infinite as He is infinite.” -Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
The truth is, the closer we grow to God, the more painfully aware we become of the void when it arises. According to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the Lord withdraws himself from us for one of three reasons: we have grown lazy in our spiritual practices, to try us, or to help us grow in humility.
In these times, it becomes all too easy for distractions to creep in.
So, the other night, there I was with a mind full of distractions. I sat in adoration at 3am reflecting on this question, “Lord, what do you hope for in me?”
I cried out to the Lord to answer me, and once again, I heard nothing but the cycling and recycling of my own voice. I called upon the saints to come to my aid, to help me fill my heart and mind so full of Jesus that it would push out all the nonsense that seemed to be rising to the surface.
Again, I asked, “Lord, what do you hope for in me?”
I sat. I waited. I persevered. I heard nothing. No bubbly feelings emerged. There were no tears of joy or sorrow, no images, not even a random word. Just silence.
My mind wanted to wander, but in my freedom to choose, I gently pushed my thoughts and preconceived misinterpretations of God’s lack of response to the side.
I took a few deep breaths and waited, trusting that the Lord was there. Trusting that the greatest graces were yet to come, even if they didn’t come in that hour. I trusted that even if I heard or felt nothing, he was working.
I raised my heart and my mind and repeated, “Lord, what do you hope for in me?” Suddenly, he took me into the deep and whispered… “Not now, my child. Just let me love you.” And in that moment, I was able to set aside all my ruminating thoughts and worries.
I was able to sit and simply be. No longer a Martha, but for a time, Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus.
When I first joined Metanoia Catholic with the desire to be a professionally trained coach, I often got caught up in the busyness of, not only my day, but of my mind. I didn’t know how to navigate the thought spiral that often arose from every pocket-sized emotion or letdown.
Scripture says that we are to take every thought captive, that we are obey the law of God in the mind and not in the flesh. Yet, knowing we are supposed to do something and having the skills and developed habits to do it, are two very different things.
Little did I know how teaching my mind to obey the will of God would not only enhance the virtuous nature of my day-to-day actions, but it would enhance my prayer as well. I would discover that I had a lot of preconceived notions and beliefs about how I was being called to be a Saint, how I should be living, and even how I should be praying. I believed and consented to the lies that I wasn’t good enough or didn’t know enough to teach others about how to pray, to witness, or to live out their faith.
So, rather than pursuing my desires to do so, I stayed stuck. I remained in the shadows devoid of confidence and courage to do the work that the Lord was calling me to.
It wasn’t until I better understood how to take my thoughts captive and was prepared for the battle of the mind that I was better prepared for the spiritual battles that came with prayer as well. I grew in my love of silence. I grew in my discipline of prayer. I grew in awareness of what is true and good and holy.
So, the next time you find yourself crying out to God for answers and he just doesn’t seem to respond, take your thoughts of what he is or isn’t doing captive. Turn them toward his infinite love and mercy. Remember that it is in the silence, the often painful and beautiful abyss of silence, that God speaks. It is there that he also loves and transforms and renews.
So, persevere. Persevere in silence. Persevere in prosecuting your thoughts. Persevere in the battle of the mind. Persevere in spirit. And, as always, persevere in prayer.
“Persevere in prayer. Persevere even when your efforts seem barren. Prayer is always fruitful.” – Saint Josemaria Escriva, The Way 101