God Out of Reach 6

IMG_1424 - Version 2Listening in the silence

Is anyone else captivated by the fact that a little ping from a black box three miles deep in a 28-million-square-mile ocean can pinpoint a fallen jetliner? I find myself checking the news frequently to see how the search is going. And now that the black box batteries have died, the search enthralls me all the more for its against-all-odds chances of success in the silence.

I am also fascinated by the tenacity of the search crews who describe the work as “very slow and painstaking.” They fully expect it could take months or years to locate the jet. Nonetheless, they have pulled out all the stops and aren’t going to stop trying.

Sometimes when I’m straining my ear to hear my Shepherd’s voice, I feel like those search crews. I’m listening in the silence, not knowing which way to turn my ear; then, out of the blue, I hear a still, small—something. Until it stops. And then I might as well be trying to hear a deep-sea jellyfish hiccup. God seems quite out of reach.

One of those days

Today is one of those days when I’m not hearing so well. Literally. I have a cold, and colds almost always plug my ears.

I went to my doctor this morning. Actually, I already had an appointment scheduled for a physical, so I figured this was a great opportunity to get some help for my ears as well.

I arrived at the office, hopeful. My doctor peered into my ears (and also probed my nose, at which point I had this random thought that I’m kind of glad I don’t do what she does for a living). Her conclusion: Looks fairly clear. Why don’t you just wait it out for a few days? If it doesn’t get better we’ll see what we can do.”

What to do with plugged-up ears

So here I sit a few hours later, typing a post for this website called The One Voice That Matters, and not hearing very well. Literally and figuratively. Lord, what do You want me to write about? Long pause… Nope, I got nothing.

We sheep of our Shepherd just don’t hear well sometimes. His voice may seem to us like a ping at the bottom of the ocean, barely discernible. Or it may seem like a  rumble from a far-off mountain, thunderous but indistinct. It may even seem dead-battery silent.

The good news is that this isn’t permanent hearing-impairment. Like my cold-caused hearing loss, we don’t need to panic. Jesus says several times in the Gospels, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” It’s an assumption that we have ears, and that we will hear (eventually) if we listen.

In the meantime there are several things we can do:

  • Keep listening for our Shepherd’s voice
  • Don’t stop talking to Him
  • Trust Him to speak at the right time and in the right way
  • Check to see if anything is clogging our ears (is there something in our heart that is bigger than God Himself right now—something we’re unwilling to give up? something demanding all of our attention?)
  • Let Him do whatever work He is doing in us as we wait (is He forging our faith? strengthening our resolve? quieting our spirit? preparing us for a surprise around the corner?)

Pings and pinnacles

Friends, take heart. His voice follows us to the remotest part of the sea (Psalm 139:9). It reaches down to us from the highest mountain (Psalm 121:1-2). If we keep our ear tilted toward that sound—no matter how faint the ping or how indistinct the rumble—He will open our ears to hear and understand His heart. May we be able to say, as David did:

When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,

“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;

Be strong and let your heart take courage;

Yes, wait for the Lord.

(Psalm 27:8, 13-14)


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6 thoughts on “God Out of Reach

  • Laura

    Thanks so much for this Jeanelle! I have spent so much of my life thus far being a multi-tasking, get-r-done mom that this really is a timely reminder that my next “job” is to mature in the area of slowing down and listening! I have gotton used to making my own schedule and getting things done according to my plans. To add to that, being still, or quiet, has never been my strong suit so He is giving me plenty of opportunities to learn these “skills”. And each time I hear from Him through sisters and brothers, I am reminded how gracious He is to provide so many beautiful ways to help me on my journey.

    • Jeanelle Reider Post author

      Laura, I admire your multi-tasking get-r-done abilities! But I also respect that you are always growing in the ways Jesus is showing you to grow, so humble and attentive to His Spirit. I’m glad this post reminded you; thank you for the ways you often remind me to keep becoming more and more like our Savior.

  • melissa stadtlander

    Thank you again for your timely and so accurate words and truth about our Shepherd’s voice! It blessed me so much and has kept my heart pondering and my mind thinking this past week. So much of life is this way I was realizing… As I spoke with someone very dear to me this week, as she poured out her heart to me, crying that she doesn’t feel Him near as she has before and is He even listening anymore, I was able to share these things with her and give her hope. Thank you so much! I am praying that it continues to give her hope and encourage her heart!

    And as I was thinking about all you wrote, it made me realize that I have been in that waiting place, waiting for Him to speak. I love what you said about letting Him do whatever work He is wanting to do while we wait-He has been doing just that! As my husband and I have been waiting for Him in a very specific area for months, I have been praying that our hearts would be prepared for the answer He would bring. In His faithfulness, He did just that in an “only God could do that way”! :) He was doing all you said-forging our faith to trust deeper, strengthening our resolve to stay faithful, quieting our spirit to know that He knows what is best, and preparing us for the sweetest surprise that He hears our every prayer and loves us so! As we waited sometimes His voice did seem far off or silent, wondering “will you do this?” but even in those times I clung to Him. And I know that even in the silence if we continue to cling to Him, abide there and trust with all our hearts, seeking Him always, always listening He WILL make Himself known, He longs to do that for us! Thank you so much for blessing me each week with your heart, it truly is a blessing to my heart and life!

    • Jeanelle Reider Post author

      Melissa, what a moving example of listening to His voice in months of silence, undaunted even when tempted to doubt. What a blessing it is for me to walk with you and see these only-God things that have been brought into your lives, and all because of the hope you’ve tenaciously placed in Him. It brings me such joy to see what God has done; my own faith is strengthened because of it. I pray for this person so dear to your heart as well, and I truly believe that God is working in this precious one’s life in the most skillful way. We will rejoice together as He continues to do His work! Thank you for the example of love and sweet trust you are to me.