They call it the dark night of the soul, a time when you want so desperately to feel God’s presence, to hear His voice, but He remains elusive. You rise early – every single morning– and you go to scripture and you silence yourself. You wait and you pray and you think.
There is a commonness to it, a dailiness that could bore you if you let it, but you keep showing up. This is the stuff routines and habits are made of, the simply being there. Maybe if you keep going through the motions, perhaps then He will speak. Perhaps He will thunder from the clouds, awaken you to an enormous revelation, move some mountains.
You know in your heart of hearts this isn’t how He works so much. You know to look for him in the still and quiet places–that He so often whispers through the breeze, the kiss of butterfly wings, the sighting of a tiny hummingbird.
But you want something big and bold. You want a certainty. You want it loud and sure, because there’s been so little, so much of nothing, for months now.
There you are, with your Bible, your devotional book, your prayer journal.
If you keep getting up, keep opening up, keep looking up, then surely He will notice.
Is God Small Enough to Hear Me?
Still, day after day, nothing. A warm cup of coffee in your hands, a cozy fire, a word or two. But it feels so impersonal.
You mutter the words of the Nichole Nordeman song, hoping the Spirit will indeed intercede as He promises to do:
Oh great God, be small enough to hear me now.”
God is big and He is mighty and this you know deep down. But He doesn’t seem to realize that you are here, still waiting. Does He see you?
Finally, He Whispers
Today it is gray with a fine mist not so much falling as wafting through the air. Tiny droplets sting your face as you walk to the car. The pre-teen kids are their usual surly morning selves as you drive toward school. Normally it doesn’t phase you so much, but today you are sensitive. You’ve been battling a cold, so the tears come too easily. You try to talk to them but they barely hear your words, let alone your heart. Everything’s coming up gloom.
Once again you’re alone. Kids dropped off, a few more minutes to your final destination. And that’s when you see them again. Those geese, flying off toward the south in their perfect V formations. Every morning for the past several weeks, you’ve spotted them, doing their regular fall thing. They fly south. Apparently even further south than here.
God in the Smallest Details
And it doesn’t hit you like a ton of bricks. It doesn’t bowl you over like you hoped it would. It doesn’t knock you over with its clarity or reveal any earth-shattering news.
In truth, it’s the mundanity of it that speaks to you in that moment. Every day these geese do the same thing. Slight variations on the length and width of the flying formation, but still. It’s the same each morning.
And yet it is – without question – a miracle.
All the scientific studies about bird migration patterns and instinct and the specific science of it all don’t matter a whit in this moment, because you know. You know who ordered the stars and who told the geese to fly south.
He shows up every day and He keeps the world spinning and it’s so easy, too easy, not to notice.
- We want the shouts, the hallelujahs, the fire from the mountain.
- We long for the thunder and the earthquake and the voice from heaven.
- We ache for a sign, a clue that He is still out there, still listening, still knows our name.
The Still, Small Voice
All these mornings, I’ve watched and waited. This morning He answers.
In the barest of whispers, with a flutter of high-soaring geese wings, “Here I am.”
Does He see me?
“Yes,” comes His reply.
Because more often than not, He shows up in the tiniest, least important details. I look for something grand, and He sneaks in like the cat at midnight, curling his warmth around my toes when I’m not even aware.
Philip Yancey says this of the incarnation:
Unimaginably, the Maker of all things shrank down, down, down, so small as to become an ovum, a single fertilized egg barely visible to the naked eye, an egg that would divide and redivide until a fetus took shape, enlarging cell by cell inside a nervous teenager.”
The tiniest of details, indeed. As the world watches expectantly for a coming king, an infant steals into the world through a young girl’s womb and changes everything. How silently the wondrous gift is given.
Because then, as now, it is after silence that He whispers.
I am reminded and blessed and thankful all rolled into one emotion.
The Spirit of Advent
This is the spirit of Advent, I think. To be watchful, to keep showing up.
To rise and shine as the prophet says, and to believe that the Light of the World is come at last. That the God who made these geese knows my name, that He knows the way I take and that He turns His face toward me with sunlight in His eyes.
Keep the faith, waiting ones. Don’t give up.
The glimpses ARE the big picture. The reality of a God bigger than the universe is all around us in the scrimpiest details. He is too much to contain. Too large to hold. And often too small for us to notice as we blunder through life.
But if we do want to see Him, hear Him, know Him, understand His smallness as well as his might –well then, we have to keep showing up with microscope ready. Because sometimes He’s small. Sometimes He’s silent.
And then after the silence, He whispers.
Advent blessings and so much love,