I was reading in 1st Samuel chapter 3 and, as this chapter always does, it got me reflecting on the presence of God.
The thing that jumps out at me is that Eli was all snug in bed, but Samuel chose to sleep on the temple floor in the presence of God. It’s a beautiful picture of deep calling unto deep! Samuel would rather sleep on a dusty old floor, close to the Lord’s glory, than be all cozy in bed. It makes me feel convicted for all the times I hit the snooze button!
What I see is a young man who, somewhere along the way, decided to be a part of God’s life, rather than trying to fit God into his own life (see my earlier blog). He could have laid in bed whispering prayers. He could have made a commitment to get up a half an hour earlier for a rousing quiet time, but instead he decided to camp out in God’s presence.
I really does bring Psalm 84:10 to life. “I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the houses of the wicked.“
A few weeks ago, I was talking with a young guy who occasionally attends our Friday night prayer meeting. There’s something about the kid that’s a mystery to me. I don’t know where his church home is, he walks to prayer even in bad weather, and he always has plenty to philosophize about. I’ve never seen him with any friends, he’s a bit socially awkward, and I gathered from talking to him that his parents are no longer together. It’s not unusual for him to look like he just rolled out of bed and came in the clothes he wore the day before. Brennan Manning would describe him as a genuine ragamuffin.
When I asked this young man how he was doing, his answer really penetrated me, “Jesus has been especially loving to me.” Pause. Jesus has been especially loving to me? Without a car, money, or friends and Jesus has been especially loving? Shame on me. How many times have I questioned His love while enjoying so much more? How many times have I felt distant from the savior because of self-pity and ingratitude?
The last time I saw this guy, he was worshiping his heart out. It put a huge smile on my face to watch him dance, shout, clap, and run around the room in celebration of his especially loving savior. Some might say he’s in his own little world, but it’s a world I wouldn’t mind living in to experience an especially loving Jesus.
Matthew 15 tells of a woman who came to Jesus to deliver her demon possessed daughter. When she pleaded with Jesus, she received no reply. Eventually, the Lord told her that she wasn’t the kind of person He came to help. Wow! How many of us would have just walked away discouraged and hurting after an answer like that? Not this woman. She was desperate. She wasn’t going anywhere until she received that miracle!
So what did she do? Verse 25 says that she worshiped Him. I think that it’s important that we learn to worship God in the silence. We shouldn’t be quick to interpret His silence as indifference because we can trust that He does love us and cares about our circumstances. Even if we feel He is telling us “no” we should still worship Him for His wisdom and mercy. He has a greater perspective on our lives so we can trust His “no”.
But she still didn’t give up. Remember, she was desperate! This wasn’t a new car she was praying for, this was her daughter! I think there’s something about desperation that moves the heart of God. This woman wasn’t whispering a casual request. She was pleading so loudly and persistently that the disciples were bothered by her. In the end, Jesus granted her request. I believe he honored her desperation with answered prayer. It was Hebrews 11:6 in action. He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. Or could that be read, “desperately seek Him” or “persistently, earnestly, tenaciously seek Him”? Don’t give up when God is silent. Persist with faith!
One last thought. When I was in my high school drama class, my teacher used to talk about the dramatic pause. Sometimes the silence during the pause speaks volumes. Jesus’ pause may have just been a way to test the woman’s faith. Whatever the case, if God is silent, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep listening anyway.