“I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.”
–Hosea 11-4 (NKJV)
My wife and I play gospel and contemporary Christian music in nursing homes. We also play some old favorites, like “You Are My Sunshine” and “For Me and My Gal”. Stephanid plays the keyboard, while I play a kind of flute.
Getting to the nursing homes can be a long haul, but experiencing the transformation of the residents is worth it. Just knowing that you gave someone happiness and lightened their load a little bit is quite rewarding.
My story starts when we went to a group home a few weeks ago. We play their frequently, and on that day I was glad they knew us well.
We had checked the audio equipment out that morning, and everything worked fine. But now, no sound was coming out of the amplifier.
We had some time before showtime, so I shot up a quick prayer, and I figured everything would soon be fine. However, my wife was trying everything she knew, and becoming more and more frantic.
We pride ourselves on being professional, but we had never been in a jam like this before. When it became apparent that nothing was working, we really began to sweat as we became more and more nervous.
The clock was ticking, and we knew we had to face the fact that it would be showtime soon. So with nothing hopeful to report, I began to pray in earnest. I offered to play and handle the full hour-long show by myself, but we both knew that was not a good option for various reasons.
Our predicament was anything but funny, and we were both humiliated and embarrassed. Whether we liked it or not, our technology seemed to have a mind of its own, and on that day it decided to take a mini vacation. Therefore, we were forced to surrender to its wishes, cancel our show and pack up our things.
Luckily for us, my father-in-law is great with repairs, and he was immediately able to scope out the problem. As it turned out, the power cord had come loose amid a huge spaghetti-like pile of wires. Once he had untangled everthing and plugged the power back in, the amplifier worked great. So the next week, we went back to business as usual.
All the frustration we felt when our equipment wasn’t working might be experienced by you in a similar way when your prayer life seems to be futile, and God appears to be silent. As you wonder why, you read the books and pull out the packaged prayers. But nothing changes, and you throw your hands up in despair, saying, “What’s the use? Who is listening anyway?”
If I have spoken to any of you who are going through this type of wilderness experience, I have good news for you. So if you have reached this state, please don’t give up. It may not seem like God is speaking, but He is speaking loudly through His Word.
What we may consider to be silence can often be attributed to unopened pages. I speak to a lot of people who feel like God may be punishing them, but it is usually Satan weakening them through accusation, or blowing something out of proportion. I do my best to remind them that there is no condemnation in Christ, and to explain through the following word picture.
Do you remember the paralyzed man in Mark’s gospel? His four faithful friends carried him up to the roof of the house where Jesus was preaching, and lowered him through so he could join the crowd around Christ.
We usually concentrate on this man’s friends alone, and what they did was more than laudable. I hope I can be such a friend. However, there is much more to this story.
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be paralyzed in those days? You probably would have lived in a one-room hut, where you would just lie on a mat day in and day out. You would be totally dependent upon others in every way, from the basic necessities to scratching an itch.
Does this sound foreign to us? That is exactly why I brought it up. If you and I took the time to really meditate on every aspect of this, I believe it would change our lives.
In a similar way, you and I who follow Christ are totally dependent upon Him. The Bible makes it clear that our lives are not our own, because we have been bought with the priceless blood of Christ.
But unlike that paralyzed man, God has given us all free will. Therefore, whether we choose to exercise our dependence upon Him is up to us.
But wait–the similarities don’t stop there. Just as Jesus saw the faith of the paralyzed man’s friends, He also sees our faith, and He forgives those of us who call on Him. Then He tells us to take up our mats and walk by faith, as we study His Word.
Sadly enough, though, some of us are willfully ignorant of this freedom in scripture. Since they choose to live like this, they are paralyzed by condemnation or fear, so they cannot walk by faith. Most of them only call upon God when they get themselves into hot water, and then wonder why He is silent. But is He really silent?
And if He has really said what He needed to in His Word, should He have to repeat Himself? Everything we need is contained in what He has already said.
We read that God corrects His children in love when they walk in disobedience to Him, but He is not some kind of vindictive tyrant. People have created their own view of God as a cruel task master, but this is anything but biblical. In the scriptures, He is portrayed as a god of love, who doesn’t delight in cracking the whip when we get out of line.
Think about it this way. You catch your children playing in the street, and you are angry. You have warned them that they could be hit by a car, but they took the risk anyway. Now you confine them to their room and tell them to wait until their father gets home. Father calls them and disciplines them for their own good, so they will not go in the street again. God corrects us in much the same way, and He always disciplines His children in love.
Instead of His Word, though, we often want God to speak in terms of the sensational only. If He doesn’t meet our demands, we often face the temptation to say that He is silent. But just as the scriptures spoke about Jesus, the Bible holds a message for you today.
God communicates on many different levels, if we will allow Him to speak. But in order to mine for the gold which is practical in our everyday situations, we must search His Word, seeking the hidden treasure of His message. To do this, we need to start at the beginning, asking ourselves honestly whether we see this as a duty or as a delight. In other words, we need to ask God to give us a burning desire to know Him.
Let me offer a case in point, as we look at how Jesus handled this so-called silence. One of His favorite closing statements after telling a story was to say, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Or in our vernacular we might simply say, “Pay attention!” I wonder if you and I need spiritual hearing aids when it comes to hearing His voice.
Christ wanted people to know that we need to start by listening for God in silence, whenever we’re trying to hear His voice. The Bible says we are to be still in His presence, and know that He is God.
In another way, though, Jesus wanted us to know that true silence between man and God was destroyed at the cross, when He cried out in finality, “It is finished.” Jesus came into the world physically to break what is known as the years of silence. From man’s perspective, these were 400 years when God was not speaking audibly. But God foretold in His Word that He would come down in flesh to bridge the gap between a holy God and sinful man.
Make no mistake about it though, friend. Just as He spoke through His Word, God is still speaking today. Therefore, develop a love for His Word, as He wants to speak to you personally.
Sadly, instead of listening to God by searching His Word, many Christians just go on living in disobedience. This is another reason why God may seem silent. Rather than asking God to search their hearts, and confessing their sins to Him, they just go on their merry way. I believe God weeps as He asks us, “Children, are your power cords severed?”
Perhaps you don’t know what I mean, and you may think I have gone off the deep end. But the prophet Isaiah put it this way: “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” (Isaiah 59:2, NLT)
Many of us are going around with disconnected power cords. They often wonder why they don’t experience the abundant life which Jesus promised.
Sin is a subject that requires self-examination, but asking God to search our hearts leads to the freedom which I spoke about earlier. If you do this, a life filled with His peace can be yours, regardless of what you are facing.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 6:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.