That Apparent Stillness – Learning to Listen

Have you ever had experiences line up where you can see beyond doubt that God is orchestrating circumstances and leading in your life in a powerful way? Life is glorious! It appears to be effortlessly falling into place and you just can’t imagine how much better things could be working out when you get that feeling that it’s really too good to continue and then everything whirls to an all too predictable apparent stillness where you are tempted to wonder if God was really leading you in the first place?

There is an endless variety of situations that could fit this scenario and I feel as if I am often finding myself in one. Lately I started mulling the repetitiveness of it over in my mind because it seems to me that there is always a part of the picture I’m missing. And maybe it is this “missing piece” that causes the apparent stillness?

As I was pondering this, my mind followed down the path of how God leads us. Because after all, that is the root of the confusion. I believe He can guide us by speaking  through other people, through circumstances, through His Word, and through feelings/impressions (though those aren’t to be solely relied upon). But even with these methods God uses to guide us, sometimes they just don’t feel like enough. A piece is missing.

And then there is that often repeated verse: “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it,’ when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21. This verse can be so powerful and encouraging to me, and yet, just so frustrating.  Frustrating, because there are those moments when I turn to my right hand, and I turn to my left hand, and there’s no voice , no sign, no inspiration, just an apparent stillness. A piece is missing

It almost feels wrong to admit you’ve come to that still place… it shows a lack of faith, a weakness. Nobody likes to accept the fact that they feel God’s leading has vanished. And so we all go on living a jolly life, I put on my smile and encourage others that God is a faithful guide while deep inside I scrunch up my brow, cock my head to one side, and question where this faithful guidance is. To me, faithful means constant and steadfast. That silent stillness, in my fiercely logical mind, cannot be synonymous to faithful, constant, or steadfast… or can it? A piece is missing.

Several experiences over this summer tipped me into this labyrinth of thoughts regarding these questions that have rolled around in my head for years but I had never tackled into serious pondering since I didn’t like to concede to myself that I was confused.

In my quest for the missing piece my mind was “sidetracked” and ran down a peripheral trail of “smaller” leadings… There is so much hurt and confusion in this world and being in nursing I find myself within touching distance of it more frequently than I have wisdom to respond to. My imperfect life is full of so much joy and blessing that my heart breaks for these starved and wounded children of God. God has given me so much that I am obligated to turn around and give it again. But I lack the sagacity to reach across that touching distance to pass on the blessing I have received. I am in need of momently wisdom. I pray a lot during these encounters and I have seen God use me, put words in my mouth, and impress me in certain ways. Amidst these humbling experiences I somehow don’t feel like I’m being used to my fullest potential. I am lacking. I feel God wanting to use me and I just wish he would pass me a note, shout in my ear, or grab me by the hand and show me.

It was along this side trail that I started feeling a strong conviction to pray that I would learn to recognize God’s voice more keenly. I paused briefly at that thought because often I hear a lot of fanatical ideas resulting from “the voice of God.” But just because extreme outcomes are reportedly linked back to a specific root doesn’t mean that particular root is bad. While I’ve grown up praying and listening, I believe God has much more He wants to speak to me than I pause to hear.

In praying for this sharper recognition I quickly came back to the uncomfortable realization that I have come to many times before. God’s voice doesn’t speak only the things I want to hear. So I had to add two more prayers, one, that God would give me the desire to follow the leadings of His voice, and two, that He would give me the strength to carry them through.

I was brought back to the main path I had diverged from when I came again to an apparent stillness a couple weeks ago.

Roughly a month ago, I arrived to my new temporary home in California after driving 2,345 miles across the country with all my worldly possessions (with the exception of my furniture – bed, dresser desk, etc.) packed into my faithful little Subaru. I knew God had led me here and even though I was tempted to feel trapped and discouraged being in a hot, brown city in southern California, I felt a conflicting peace. My first day here, the job position I had been searching online for throughout summer, was posted – a nursing position on the Labor and Delivery unit. Another sign God had been leading in my move.

Within a couple of days I had made contacts in HR and a nurse on the floor who I knew of. More positive signs. A week later I was called for an interview. I prayed for wisdom, strength and peace. The day of my interview arrived and my stomach was filled with knots, that is until I walked into my first of three consecutive interviews when God instantly flooded me with peace that would remain throughout the next hour and half of questions. God brought stories to mind for each question and in fact, I actually quite enjoyed the interviews. More positive signs.

I was told if I got the job I would get a phone call within one week and if I didn’t, I would get an email within two weeks. During that first week I prayed that God would lead and place me where I would be of most service to Him and would prepare me best for experiences in the future. That last painful day of week one passed and the silence remained. I was a little sad and kind of confused since it had appeared that God had really been opening doors for me. Now I felt like I was back to ground zero and there was an apparent stillness in God’s leading. And again I wondered about missing pieces.

With the reality of that job option out of the question in my mind, I had several alternatives that ran around  mind. I started looking at travel nursing jobs within driving distance and found one of particular interest. Just as I was about to apply for information and start down that process, I had this distinct impression that siad “wait!” Wait? I saw no good reason for that since I knew processes can take awhile but then I remember the prayer I had been praying of late and that very morning. Maybe God was trying to tell me to wait. It didn’t make sense but I figured I had time and if God was telling me to wait, why should I not wait?

The next several days I had more thoughts of continuing towards a travel nursing job. But each time I restarted down that road, I felt told to wait. And each prayer I prayed for guidance in seeking a job, the answer was always “wait.” In my mind, the job I had applied for was gone and I wasn’t sure what I was waiting for. But with the acceptance of waiting, I continued my daily life with peace. After a week and a half I had a phone call asking if I was still interested in the position… now I knew what the wait was for. Needless to say, I accepted the position and will be starting as a Labor and Delivery nurse in just a few short weeks!

So what is that apparent stillness? For me, I find it is a quiet opportunity to exercise my ear. With that comes more understanding and a sharper sight to see that God continues to work through stillness. Although I realize that becoming more in tune with the voice of God isn’t necessarily the entire “missing piece,” I believe it goes quite a distance in bridging the gap. While this is a seemingly small scenario I often think that the important things in life are made of small things. And I find that recognizing the seemingly small workings of God builds my faith and ultimately draws me closer to the source of all wisdom. And with that comes a keener ear – always listening for the voice of God.

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~ by Maggie Lynne on September 25, 2012.

3 Responses to “That Apparent Stillness – Learning to Listen”

  1. I have been so blessed and challenged by reading this, Margie. Thank you! thank you! for sharing your thoughts! I want to listen more closely to God’s voice as well! What an amazing thought…”He will speak His mysteries to us personally”. ~ EGW

  2. “-Always listening for the voice of God”– That’s how I want to be. 🙂

  3. I’m so glad you posted this! For multiple reasons 🙂

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