I’m in one of those seasons where there is a lot of waiting, watching, and wondering. Do you know the kind of seasons I am talking about? These are times where the going is slow, where the landscape is dark and misty and the visibility is poor. Where the map you have is inexplicably vague on where you are. And on top of it all, you are not quite sure of where you are going or how long it is going to take to get there.
Waiting. Watching. Wondering. Time stands still in these places. You feel exposed, unprotected, unsafe. You are left wondering where God is in all this, why He seems so distant, so aloof. There is not a lot of discernable progress, nor a lot of familiarity in what is going on. Just a lot of questions…nagging questions that gnaw at your faith.
Most of the books and blogs out there that talk about these seasons leave me very unsatisfied. Why? Because most of what is out there assumes that times like these are just pitfalls that we fall into because we weren’t careful, or are brought about by our own sin or lack of faith. Certainly there are times when those explanations fit. But they do not explain everything. There is another possibility.
I think God led me here. I think this was His idea. I don’t get the idea that God is calling me saying, “Hey Dan! Where are you going? I’m over here! You don’t want to be over there…it’s nasty!” No. This is not some rabbit trail that I went running down like The Pokey Little Puppy (if you are a parent you will get that reference). He planned this stop. He intentionally led me here. Since He planned this stop, I don’t necessarily help myself by trying to get out of it, or by asking Him to show me the quickest way out of this blinding fog.
There are times when what God wants from us is not action but to sit still. There are times when He is silent about what He is doing or why He is doing it. The question then becomes: Will I give in to fear or puff up in pride, or will I humbly submit to His wisdom that I do not need to know the answers to my questions…and that He does not owe me any?
Waiting. Watching. Wondering. I don’t like these times. They are not pleasant. But, I have been learning that if you really want to be growing deeper in your relationship with God and getting closer to Jesus He will bring you into places like this. Sometimes it is necessary for God to work in the dark. Some surgery can be done with local anesthetic, but some require that you be knocked out. Similarly, sometimes God lets us see what He is doing in us, and other times He does not. This is perhaps the truest test of our faith: are we willing to trust God when He is working in the dark? When He has numbed us to His presence? When He is silent about what He is doing and why? Do we still trust Him?
One of the reasons many Christians struggle with going deeper and maturing in their spiritual life is because we never think that to answer that longing—to be closer to Him, to love Him more, to live for Him more fully—God chooses to bring us to these strange places. It seems utterly counter-intuitive. But I have been learning that God if anything is more active in my soul during these times, not less. I have been learning that God does some of His deepest work in me when He works on me in the dark.
If you are in one of these seasons too don’t just assume something is wrong or that you are being disciplined. Don’t just assume God wants to lead you out right away. He may need you to stay for a while. God may well have brought you here to wait, to watch, and to wonder, while He silently, imperceptibly works on your soul in the dark.