Margins & the Silence of God

When life shifts, sometimes there is a perception that God is being silent. Faced with changes, God seems to move out of our life. I would say the last two years of my life have been about learning that God speaks despite our own perception, or even if we aren’t actively engaged in listening. If I were being honest with myself the last two years have been the most emotional unstable and rough years of my life. Social anxiety peaked to the point where it crippled me as a person. That led to a suicide attempt back in 2014. In many ways that was the beginning of the journey of this lesson. Surviving that, as a Christian, attempted suicide made me question my own salvation. It wasn’t that my salvation had slipped away, but that I allowed life to speak over the voice of God.

In 1 Kings 19 Elijah describes God’s voice as a small wind among the fires and the earthquakes. He says that God wasn’t speaking through those loud and destructive movements of Nature. However, that does not mean that God was not there among them. His voice was the underpinning of those events. He was giving hope and restoration underneath all of that destruction.

Since getting out of the Navy back in 2012, my life has felt like a collapse that has perpetuated itself, going further and further down. I got out in hopes of moving to Nashville and going to college there. But I wasn’t accepted and ended up finishing my degree for Video Production here in Dallas, and that led me to Antioch Dallas. I was growing, but I also wasn’t fully listening to how God speaks in the margins of our lives. Currently I am job hunting, while in ADS, but it is also the first time in a long time I feel like I am where I need to be at in life. This has come from taking the time to actively listen to what God has to say. He has met me in the margins of unemployment and has told me that despite everything that He still loves me, and is proud of me. I come from a dysfunctional family, and can’t really recall hearing that from my family. So in this time where one would say God is being silent, in my stillness I am hearing that “still small voice”. His voice isn’t small because God isn’t someone who can’t be large, but that He prefers to speak in a way that comforts us, at least in my own life.

The margins of our lives aren’t always unemployment. It can be found in losing your best friend to a car accident. Or even moving to a new city, or just getting a new job can be considered a margin in our life. I look at margins as the spaces where we shift from one chapter to the next. Sometimes it is a quick pause in between that move or job. Sometimes it is that space where nothing seems to connect, and it has been years since the world around you looked familiar or safe to settle in. Margins have this ability to be loud, especially for someone who is like myself and lives in their head most of the time. The “What ifs?” and anxiety of not knowing the next step. It gets so loud we cannot even hear our own voice. We let the margins become earthquakes and storms. But if we look at who Jesus is, and take seriously the picture of Him calming the storm in Mark 4.35-41 we see that God gives us power to quiet these times.

By simply telling our hearts to be quiet and still God’s voice becomes clearer. The one plus I have found in this time of unemployment is I have the time to sit in that quiet and give the loudness of my heart and mind to God and let him calm the storms that came from the uncertainty and anxiety that dwelt there before. Even if your schedule is packed and you aren’t really sure when and where to find that stillness, I would say try to find that space. It is important. Every prophet, king, apostle, even Jesus took time to seek out that silence. They stepped outside of their busy schedule and prayed and sought after God. God then used that space to speak to them.

Looking back God has never been silent. I have only been too loud to listen. Our world is loud. It is full of pain, strife, war, poverty, and sickness. For any of this to be healed in ourselves and in others we need to step back from the storm, silence it and listen to God. Every person hears God differently, so use that space of silence to find how God speaks to you. If you learn through poetry and writing, do that. If God gives you dreams and visions, jot them down and pray over their meaning. But in the end, let us remain silent so God can speak.

 

JEREMY HELBERT