One of the hardest things about following God’s call on your life is actually hearing His voice. I’m not saying God speaks audibly. In fact, far more often he doesn’t. I usually hear His voice in the rhythms of nature and the quiet spaces of life. But sometimes the silence doesn’t speak. Sometimes it’s just quiet.
Sometimes we hear God’s voice or are prompted to begin something, but then we get stuck somewhere in the middle. Have you ever gotten the feeling that the middle is perhaps the hardest part? I’ve learned the middle is often the hardest part of a project or a race and maybe, perhaps, life? Maybe you find yourself stuck in the middle and you’re not quite sure where you’re going, but you’ve come to far to give up. I get that. I’ve found myself there too. Like right now.
All my life I’ve prayed: Lead me Lord. Three little words that have woven themselves into the very everyday language of my life and my heart. A request, a prayer, and a promise. In the quiet hours I’ve begged for His leading, promising to follow but only if He was with me. Looking back I can see how He’s been faithful.
But lately things have been quiet. Strangely quiet. Arriving at a place I prayed with every breath to reach, now I’m not sure it’s what I thought. What I wanted. Maybe I’ve changed? Maybe I wasn’t following Him after all. And though the questions persist and the answers elude me, there is one thing I know: He is still here. He is still faithful.
He is here in the silence, the unanswered questions, and the sifting and sorting of a life. He is here in the middle. The beginning of anything is exciting, the fulfillment exhilarating, but the middle is hard. Fraught with mediocrity, the mundane, and the wide open infinite stretch of an uncertain future, it is tempting to sit back. It is tempting to quit. I am in the middle. And while I’m not sure where I’m headed, God hasn’t let me go. He’s calling me to something that I don’t yet know, and yet I know He will be faithful.
Being unsure doesn’t give us permission to stop, and the middle of something is hard no matter who you are. But waiting is not the same as doing nothing. There are beautiful ways to wait, but none of them are inactive. So if you find yourself in the middle, unsure what’s next and secretly wanting to give up, here are a few places to begin again:
1. Pray: I believe God is in us. Alive and active, He is the very beating breath of our spirit. When we pray, He listens. Though we may not find the answer immediately, it will come.
2. Listen: Sometimes the loudest voice comes from the silence. From the abundant fruit growing on the branches of an apple tree in your garden. The perfectly shaped heart-rock found in the driveway. Listen to the rhythm of nature and the silence around you. It speaks.
3. Move: We will never go anywhere without taking a step. You may not be sure where you’re headed, but you certainly have a clue. Start out. Take a step. Sometimes God is waiting for your act of faith – believing Him when you don’t know the way – before the path will open.
4. Agree: So many times I have an idea of what I want to do, where I want to go, what I think is good for me. Far more often than not, I’m wrong. Choose to agree with the quiet voice of your spirit and go anyway. Do anyway. Believe anyway. Commit to trust that His voice is leading you to the deepest desires of your heart even if it doesn’t make sense right now.
5. Begin: God will never call you to be inactive. He will never ask for you to pull away, sit out or shut down. As much as I’ve wanted to take this path recently it will never be of Him. He tells us to go. To be. Neither of those commands will ever meld with inaction. You must begin what God has prepared for you and the time is now.
We live in a culture of certainty. We like things that are measurable, determined, and finite. We like certainty and avoid risk and failure at all costs. But that’s never worked in God’s economy. He says the last will be first and the first will be last. What makes sense here will never make sense in His eyes. Stop trying to figure it all out. Stop justifying waiting on God with not doing anything. Stop hating the middle; the middle is where we’re made. The tiny voice you hear in the silence or the nudge you feel in your spirit when you pray is telling you to keep going. Start something. Whether you know where you’re going, or the answers don’t come: GO.