Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sounds of silence

Do you ever feel like life is piling up on you? You feel like you have so much to do that you're doing everything okay but not anything great? That feeling of treading water indefinitely but you're not sure how much longer you can hold on?

Maybe you're beaten down because of work, or family, or finances, or health. Maybe it's all of the above. Sometimes the anxiety of a big decision or even a bunch of smaller ones can create this feeling of uncertainty and unknown.

I have no idea what the next three months, six months, a year, or five years look like. That can scare me. As a long-range planner, I rarely find myself in this position. Yet no matter how much time I spend thinking about things, asking others for advice, and praying there is just no way for me to know how to prepare for the future.

I can make the best made plans and due to my health they can become irrelevant in an instant. I could never make any plans and then even when I feel well and things are going well I'd never do anything because I didn't plan.

I'm stuck. It's not just big stuff like jobs, and cars, and houses. It is little stuff too. Do I accept a speaking opportunity not knowing how I'll feel? Can I make this appointment for work? Can I take Kendra out on a date? I just don't know.

When I look to the future I see so many incredible and exciting opportunities. I could be headed in any one of a couple different directions and they're all excellent opportunities. I just don't know how to prepare.

I think the problem is I've been doing too much talking. When I pray I do most of the talking. I feel like I'm missing half the conversation. A spiritual discipline that I haven't developed enough is listening to God.

A mentor challenged me to stop trying to figure things out and start listening. He gave me a book by Mary Geegh called God Guides. This incredible woman was a missionary in India for over 35 years. The book is a collection of stories from her life and how the habit of listening during times of uncertainty, confusion, or turmoil led her to some incredible places.

As I read the book I started trying to do it myself. I was doing my radiation in Chicago at the time and was alone during the week for 8 weeks. It started out rough. My mind raced, distractions danced around the room. I could barely scratch out ten minutes at a time.

I never recieved any clear direction about anything. I did start to become very aware of my own sin and lack of ability to focus on God. I was embarressed and frustrated. I can watch a movie, read a book, and watch a game for hours but I couldn't spend ten unadulterated minutes with God? What was wrong with me?

The first clear message I got from God was to get on my knees.


I had been in a chair, reclined, with my eyes shut. I know, that was dumb.

The act of getting onto my knees in this physically uncomfortable position kept me more alert. More than that though was the mental and emotional feelings of being face down before my God.

The first time I did that I went for almost 45 minutes straight!

Over the next couple months I started to build this into my life more regularly. Sometimes it was ten minutes sometimes an hour. Often times I never felt anything specific but always felt at peace.

I'm still a greenhorn at this discipline. I'm raw and unskilled and inconsistent. Even then, it's begun to change my life and how I live it. When you take the time to listen to what God is telling you, you start changing your thought process from what I want to what God wants. My thoughts become molded to His thoughts.

As I write this, I'm in Wyoming about to head out on a five day pack trip this morning. I'll be riding in God's country with a few friends, some horses, and Wyoming mountains. This is something I've been looking forward to, but now I feel like I have a purpose for it as well.

You see, I don't hear too well. The chemo has affected my ears and "what" is one of my favorite words now. I feel like I have a lot of decisions, pathways, and unknowns ahead of me and I need to be ready when the time comes to make them. I don't hear to well, so the best thing I could think of was to get closer to the source.

As God is in heaven, I had to get up in the mountains to hear him better. So I am asking for your prayer on a couple fronts.

Please pray that I would be physically able to endure the trip. I've felt better this cycle than any other cycle so far, but I'm definitely not 100%.

Please pray that as I spend time listening to God, so that I can hear that still small voice, I would be given direction on what God has in store for me. I am not necessarily asking Him for specifics, more a vision of how He wants to use me.

When you're done praying for me, why don't you spend a little time listening for yourself while you're at it!


Anonymous said...

I am on my knees... listening.
Thank you Ryan!

Denise Conroy said...

I've been learning that too Ryan. Hitting my knees along with submitting to God. Abiding in his will for me and taking each day as it comes under the protection and guidance of HIM. We are Praising God along with you that you were able to make this trip, it looks incredible! I find it really interesting that your blog title is right in line with two different messages I heard this week. One was on "finding Waldo" and how we may feel God is absent, but he isn't. He is there all the time. The other one was talking about "between the rains" how the rains are when we see God's hand at every turn in our life and between those rains are times when we feel God is distant, almost silent. However it is during those times that God is refining our faith, building perseverance and resolve. It is only by testing that we grow. With plants, it is inbetween the rains that the plant grows..same idea. We continue to pray for your family. Your blog has been such an inspiring encouragement to me in my own daily walk and faith. God is being glorified by your messages & posts. We may not be so great at responding to tell you but they are! THANK YOU for honoring God through your journey and sharing it with all of us!