Why is it that after some experiences of God, you find yourself in a slump? You know the experience was God. It changes you. So why? Why do you want to chuck everything and spend all your time on Ancestry.com looking for ancestors or something? Or, maybe it’s just me. But why? What happens? I consider:
- Is it Satan?
Is it circumstances in life?
Is it disappointments?
Is it fighting with temptations of various sorts?
Is it because of being sick and out of energy?
Is it burn out?
Where did God go? Where is my Love?
Is it because I’m not trying hard enough to stay in touch?
Do I not want to try anymore?
Or is it something else?
I question myself – What do you think you’re doing anyway? Writing and teaching and such?
Who do you think you are?
Am I working on the wrong things?
Then I remember the Jesus story. You remember, don’t you? Jesus has just been baptized and, as he comes up out of the water, the sky opens and the Holy Spirit like a dove descends and lights upon him and stays. A voice from heaven (the voice of the Father) says, “You are my son and I love you. In you, I am well pleased.” That is quite a God experience isn’t it? A person could go for a long time on that. But there is a “and then.”
And then the Holy Spirit leads Jesus, or drives Jesus, out into the wilderness. Into the desert. Why? To be tested, tempted, perhaps even trained by Satan, the Tempter. After the experience of God comes the temptation to be something other than the person God has dreamed for me to be. I lived in the desert for a time. Silence is in the desert, but you can begin to hear the wind when you are still. Perhaps it is the wind of the Spirit. There are many voices that cause me to forget that I am loved. That I am good. That God is pleased with me. But listen – you can hear it, too. There is the still small voice of God, the voice of sheer silence, which reminds us of the truth.
What does this say to me on days like this? On days when I would rather go sun soaking if there just happened to be any sun, or days when I would rather do anything else? On those days when God seems to be taking a nap? When someone in spiritual direction asks me that question, I tell them to keep doing the spiritual practices that they have been doing. Sit in the desert wherever it is, in your prayer chair where you always go, and listen to the silence. Pay attention. Read the story. God is never gone. We can never get away, even on those times when we might wish it. We are in a love relationship, and it might just be that God is working deep within us where we, not being God, can’t perceive him. But our transformation will happen, and in time, sheer silence will speak. Listen. “You are my child. I love you. With you, I am very pleased.
In deepest night, in darkest days,
when harps are hung, no songs we raise,
when silence must suffice as praise,
yet sounding in us quietly
there is the song of God.
~ Susan Palo Cherwien (ELW-699 vs.1)