The silence seems so loud. I feel like God hasn't left His calling card in a while. As a pastor I respond to comments like this with encouragement. I understand the spiritual dimensions of dessert experiences, some from theological training, mostly from my own past history. Often God will withdraw His felt presence as a way of drawing us closer, deeper to an experience with His otherness. It becomes an invitation to play hide and seek with the Divine. As God hides, bidding us come and find Him, we follow to places we never would have ventured otherwise; we discover treasures in the most obscure places. I have never been sorry for those times of dryness, for the seeking and finding. But it can be so hard to be in the middle of that place. It doesn't feel like child's play; it feels like being lost.
Understanding rarely incubates us from the fullness of life experiences. Being a professionally trained theologian doesn't make the God questions any easier to answer, or searching for Him any less frustrating when He chooses to hide. Here I am, wrestling with questions that don't have easy answers and playing hide and seek with the only One who isn't bound by human limitations. Finding always happens on God's terms. Never on mine. I hate that.
But I am a very firm believer that all things work together for good. I know God is around here somewhere. Though I cannot see Him or feel His presence or hear His voice in the once familiar ways, His goodness does cast a long shadow. I notice it when I look into the faces of my children. I sense His blessing when my baby boy puckers up for mommy kisses. It embraces me when my "too cool for school" seven year old throws his arms around me for a quick hug. And I hear it in the sweet declaration of love from my 4 year old: "Mommy, I love you."
My husband and I have never been closer. Getting to this place has been painful, but I've never understood so clearly how much my presence is cherished by the person who means the most to me. Sharing my vulnerability so deeply is somewhat new to me. Yet I feel completely safe and cared for as I let him see into the deep places of my hopes and fears, faith and doubts. In the past I often felt responsible for holding the whole world upon my shoulders of faith. In discovering how weak my own shoulders actually are, I have also found a strength in him that I didn't know was there. It comforts me. I feel less lost when we are together, especially when we talk about what is really going on beneath the surface.
All of these gifts are truly good gifts. Sometimes I think we get so comfortable that it's easy to not see the blessings we already have, to not live deeply in the moment that holds us. Losing a full-time job brings a lot of uncertainty. As things have changed so much for our family over the past few months, I am keenly aware that this moment is all we have. I want to make the most of all the moments I am given, to cherish each one and live them all fully. These awareness, brought close by the discomfort of uncertain circumstances, is beautiful. I wouldn't have chosen it, but I am glad it chose me.
God's treasures are often buried under the debris of our Americanized expectations. We think happiness resides only on easy street. I am finding that happiness really lives in those places where the heart learns the value of what has already been given. As I mother three mischievous and lively boys, as I hold hands with the man who still makes my heart sing after 15 years of marriage, I realize my deepest prayers have been answered. I can rest here. I can make my home here. Even though so many things are uncomfortable right now, this is treasure enough. And I am profoundly grateful.