On my first missions school I can remember the thrill of discovering the discipline of listening to God's voice and the excitement of waiting to hear what He had to say. My first "field assignment" was radical to me, as an overly organized high achiever, in the sense that we didn't have a schedule for most of our days. We knew what time we were gonna get up in the morning and what time we were gonna listen to God's voice, but that was it. I know it sounds kind of mystical to some people, but for me it was a season of profound discovery and growth in the freedom of simple, abandoned obedience to God. And since we were living in a Muslim country, discerning God's voice about where to go, what to do, and who to talk to, was not just a meaningless exercise but also essential to our safety.
That was when I first fell in love with the voice of God. I knew it. I was sure of it. Certainly, I missed it a lot. But more times than not, I knew. I'm not talking about an audible voice or anything like that, but that steady inkling deep inside of you that tells you this way or that. Since then, relying on His voice has become second-nature to me, the one surety through all the craziness of life in third-world countries.
This year all that changed when one of my students died. I somehow couldn't reckon that God wouldn't have told me how to prevent that. I prayed for these students. I had sleepless nights over them. I sowed my life into this work. How could I have messed up so that one of them died? I must have missed His voice somewhere. Perhaps I wasn't listening. If only I had warned them about swimming in the ocean. If only I had gone with them. If only I had told them not to go. No matter, how I looked at it, it seemed that I had somehow, somewhere, missed God's voice.
And then there was silence.
There was no explanation from God, no rectification of this seemingly huge oversight. There was no rationale, no meaningful lesson that came of all of it. Just silence.
And suddenly, that constant voice, that one surety was gone.
Things went on the same. In prayer meetings, people would ask what we heard from God, and I suddenly felt naked because I couldn't hear. I didn't know how anymore. I was forever second-guessing myself. Was this what God wanted? Was I missing something? What if I messed up again? How could I be sure?
Mostly if felt that I was abandoned, left with the all the responsibilities of before, but now having to grope my way through the dark of God's silence.
That is how I would describe 2012. Darkness.
I'm not saying that I was abandoned by God or that I didn't feel his presence anymore. He was there. And there was a lot of joy in 2012. But without the constancy of being able to hear His voice there was also for the most part a cloudy uncertainty that seemed to rest over it all, the kind of unsurety that made me question my blessings and doubt my own successes.
But in the midst of all that groping about, the single most powerfully transforming and comforting piece of truth that I received was these words:
"God's ability to communicate is greater than our inability to hear." - Maged
Oh how hopeful those words are! Of course! The God who made me in His image, who fashioned my heart and my spirit to connect with my Maker, cannot possibly be silenced by my own feelings of inadequacy or doubt.
Somehow although 2012 still doesn't make sense yet, these words are my hope for 2013. No matter how terribly flawed and messed-up of a listener I may be, when God means to speak to me, when He needs me to hear, He will make it happen.
And however simple it may seem, sometimes the most comforting and relieving thought in the world is that He is God. He is! That is enough to inspire my worship and my sacrifice and my trust, to quell the storm of anxious thoughts and doubt in my head, and to imbue my heart with fresh expectation for another year.
Exodus 3:14: "I am who I am."