Having little kids sometimes feels like I’m constantly being orbited by satellites – wherever I go, whatever I do, they follow. I’ve been told by wiser and more experienced parents that this will end, and someday they will drive away in a car and shut the door to their room to be alone. Independence and autonomy are important growth milestones, and I think the goal of most parents is to raise their kids to grow up and then out while continuing to maintain a close relationship and friendship.
I’ve been reading a life-transforming book, The Sensitivity of the Spirit by R. T. Kendall, for the past few months. It’s taking me months because I have to pause, reflect, and pray every few pages before moving on. One of the most provoking thoughts Kendall proposes has to do with what we do when God seems silent or distant. As I read the chapter, “Why is God Sometimes Silent?” I thought about my kids and how right now they orbit around me most of the day and that we’re constantly communicating. But as they grow, they will become more independent and no longer need to be so close all the time, which is healthy.
Oswald Chambers once asked a provoking question: “Am I close enough to God to feel secure when He is silent?” In other words, must I have a constant two-way communication with God to feel approved and loved by Him? Paul Exhorted Timothy to “be instant in season, out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2, KJV). We must develop a maturity that does not panic “between the times” – to use a helpful phrase from Richard Bewes. In season is a time of refreshing when God clearly manifests Himself. Out of season is when He seems to hide His face from us, those times when He is silent.
I think I put the book down and meditated on that thought for at least a week. A lot of the times I find myself coming to God in those “out of season” times in a panic thinking something was wrong. What I’ve learned is that He wants me to come find Him in a new, fresh way and this is what causes growth and maturity in me and my walk with Him.
I think my reaction most of the time when God seems silent or absent has been a lot like Edith’s 5 o’clock meltdown time. For some reason it is so easy to be insecure when we don’t feel the intimacy or closeness that we once felt even though His love towards us never changes. God always wants us to come to Him and run to Him. He wants to be our shelter, our refuge, our very present help. But He also wants us to grow and mature to be more like Christ and sometimes that means we have to encounter Him in a way we haven’t done before, which can be so stretching and difficult but so worth the momentary pain.