Okay, so…first of all, thanks to all the many people who sent messages and emails and related accounts of hearing God’s voice. It was fascinating to read all of your stories and overwhelming to realize how personally God meets us every day.
I told you last week that this blog was in two parts. Last week was “When God Speaks,” and if you haven’t read it, you need to, in order to really keep what I am about to write in context. As you may remember, two weeks before Keith died, even before we got the terrible news that he only had weeks to live, I felt closer to God than I had my entire life. I don’t know how to describe it, and I won’t even begin to try, as it was such a personal thing that to ascribe words to it would somehow trivialize it.
That is important to note, because 3 days after Keith died, I entered probably the darkest place I have ever been in my 44 years of serving Christ. This was a large, black hole that no one around me was even aware that I was in. I tried to keep this part of my journey quiet. I really like that all of you out there think I am such a strong woman of faith! But there is no doubt that the Father wants this story told, and I think it is for one of you reading right now.
Keith died early on a Friday morning, and it was his desire that his memorial service be on a Friday and the graveside on Saturday, so we had several days where nothing really was happening. Even the hustle and bustle of people arriving didn’t begin until mid week the next week. It was a time of quiet and a time of reflection.
That was when I entered the hole.
I think it was Sunday night that I really started to question. Now, I need to be sure you understand…I wasn’t questioning God’s actions, nor was I mad at God. I was questioning the very existence of God. The foundation of my faith was beginning to crumble, and I was terrified. What if Keith was just gone? Ceased to exist? What if there really was nothing out there? I was really questioning if God was something I had created in my own mind.
Before you start sending emails describing depression to me, I know that was at play here. I was depressed, I was sad, I was alone, I had just experienced a major trauma, and now I was turning away from the God who had walked with me through every step of it.
I begged God to do something supernatural. I begged him to give me some sign that Keith was with Him, but there was nothing but silence. In looking back on it, I can almost picture God looking down at me and saying, “Are you kidding me? After the journey we have been on, you wonder if I am here?” But in the darkness I had explained him away.
It was the darkest place I had ever been.
It is interesting that to begin my journey out of the pit, I went back to a message that I heard some 20 years ago in Mobile. In that message, the pastor talked of when you are facing storms to look back at the proven dependability of God in your life. I looked back over the past two years and beyond, at all the ways God has been at work in my life since my teens and in the lives of those I love. There is absolutely too much to explain away. Once again I begged God to speak, but there was still silence.
Then I looked to scripture, and the first image that came to mind was Jesus in the Garden asking for the cup to pass from him, and then on the cross asking the Father why he had forsaken him. Jesus in his finite body was reaching out to understand the infinite plan of God. He was questioning, which helped me know it was okay to question.
Then I read again the story of Elijah in I Kings 18 & 19. He had witnessed the power of God displayed in a miraculous way before the prophets of Baal. In fact, he had witnessed many of these great works of God as recorded in I Kings. But I Kings 19 finds him hiding in a cave, fearing for his life, whining that he is the only believer left and feeling REALLY sorry for himself. This is the scripture that I love:
But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. I Kings 19:9-12
A gentle whisper. That’s what I heard. I think I had really wanted God to move things around in my room, speak in a bass voice in the darkness, or write something mysteriously on my breakfast toast (I know…really?). But it was hearing the gentle whisper that reminded me of his love, and that even in those dark, dark days of questioning, He was sitting right beside me, his arm around me…whispering.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:38
You may be in a place where you are questioning the very existence of God. I am here to tell you that is okay…God is big enough to handle your doubts. Please remember that your lack of belief does not cause God to cease to exist. He is still there…waiting to speak to you in a whisper.
For those of you out there struggling today, I want to leave you with this scripture:
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:16-21
Blessings, my friends!