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February 18, 2018

There are times when God is silent. Now I don’t mean that He isn’t speaking to us in ways that we cannot grasp. He is always doing that. I am referring to times, and seasons when we are not enjoying deeper communion with Him. This is hard. Often we feel that we have done something wrong for this silence to occur. Rest assured that this season is normal. It is what we like to call the extraordinarily ordinary communion with God. God is content to just let us marinate; rather than to introduce new flavors into our spirit.

The Bride of Christ has been in the waiting room of God for a while. Our family is no exception. It is not a pleasant place. It feels very dull and flat. I cannot say with any enthusiasm that I enjoy these times. They lack the color and excitement of when change is happening; or when we connect with others and new events happen to us. That is immensely more enjoyable; but they do need to be offset by the ordinary seasons. Without that balance we can easily go astray.

I cooked a Cajun gumbo in the hotel room a few weeks ago. No mean feat when you only have a tiny counter, a small grill and an even smaller pot; but we adapt here. It was a lot of work preparing the meat and vegetables; preparing the roux and putting it all together with the right spices. When all the preparation work was done and all the ingredients added, I have to admit I was not impressed. I could taste each ingredient and it was dull to my taste buds. So I let my gumbo rest and cook while I did other chores; occasionally giving it a stir. After a few hours, I tasted it again. Suddenly the distinct flavor of a true gumbo hit my taste buds like a home run at the bottom of the ninth inning. It was incredible. So what made the difference? Time, and heat of course; but mostly just time. You see, as the ingredients slowly blended together and released what was in them, the sum of the gumbo overwhelmed its parts. That is the beauty of marinating. When given enough time and heat, flavor comes out of any ingredient.

So why, with all the benefit of marinating, do we struggle when God puts us on the back burner; to let us rest and marinate in the ordinariness of life? There is no simple answer to that. He will put us aside because He knows, that in this process of resting and waiting, the ‘self’ nature residing within us will surface. When this happens, as it inevitably does in a believer’s life, the aspects of ‘self’ God is exposing, and calling us to renounce, are usually very obvious. Other times, however, it is not about ‘self’. Instead, God is bringing out a unique flavor in our spirits that will be individual for us. Sometimes we will be blended with others; to bring out something new and different that is greater than the persons involved. Or, He will just let us rest so the strength of our individual flavor can come forth with deep intensity. Whatever the reason, these seasons of resting and waiting, as we marinate, are difficult on us “ever changing” people.

We are dynamic creatures; who change constantly. We are not “fixed and static”; and to think otherwise is a delusion. What is here today may not be here tomorrow. The only constant we can absolutely rely on is God. Everything else, including us, changes. So, when God lets us sit, in what appears to be a rut for a considerable time, there is a feeling that the world is changing; but we are not. That too is an illusion. You are changing; even when you cannot see it. Just remember my gumbo. What I tasted at the beginning was not what I tasted in the end. Even though I could not begin to explain how that happened; I just know it did. Although it is hard, and I would be the first to admit this, we have to accept with patience and quietness that God also lets us marinate.

Many religious leaders and prophets are drunk on the mantra that there needs to be more. Bigger, better, grander is their offer. There is a constant barrage of words, streaming from them, calling us to do, Do, DO! They wear out their listeners. With ever more grandiose claims. With new revelations and surprising truths. These speakers and writers often over promise and under deliver. The sad reality is in this constant onslaught of words, from others, we have lost the simplicity of the Word of God. As a Christian culture, we have lost the ability to marinate. Be still and know that I am God is His call to us. To sit and meditate on the promises of God; His Word; His heart for us. We do not dwell in quietness. Letting what we have known from God sink deep into our spirits; and mix with everything else from deep within, the truth that God is communicating. This is the new flavor from a very old recipe. This recipe requires marinating for some time before we are ready. The desert fathers and mystics knew this place; but we, in this twenty first century of an unnaturally fast rhythm, do not.

Many years ago, God gave to our family a scripture verse that would be our theme verse for life. It is Isaiah 30:15 “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength.” This is not one of those exciting, dynamic verses that believers gravitate to. This verse is like a pair of well-worn slippers. They may not look like much; but they sure are comfortable. This verse is one that suits Wanda and I perfectly. It speaks to a relationship with God that isn’t bells and whistles; but a steady quiet relationship that will go the distance through any trial or hardship. Whatever the high, whatever the low, God stands with us and, hopefully, we’ll stand with Him. Through famine or plenty, sunny or rainy days, from the mountain top to the darkest valley, it doesn’t really matter; for He is there. He is always there. Quiet and patient; as we fight and struggle until at last our ‘self’ lays down to die. When all the change ceases for a time and we come to a rest, our spirit can then marinate with His Spirit.

The quiet place of marinating is where our confidence and faith can grow or die. Faith does not grow in the trauma of the wilderness; or in the bounty of blessing my friends. Faith grows when all is quiet. Nothing is moving; and you are left alone to think and ponder about what has happened. During all of our journey of homelessness, struggling and hardship, I can honestly say we did not learn faith at the moment of trauma. It was only after we had a chance to process what we endured, that our faith grew. Each time of rest, our faith grew a little more, and it prepared us for the next event; until we had grown up in faith, ready to face each new trial with confidence. This would not have been possible had we not had the necessary rest times of silence; to process and learn faith. This taught us to ask some tough questions when we were between ‘challenges’. Would we continue to believe that God will fulfill His promises? Would we stay the course or throw in the towel? These are the questions we faced in the quiet place of silence; and you will too. It is in the place of silence; the marinating place, where faith develops and confidence grows. Only if you have the courage to face it.

Embracing the silent, ordinary place is never easy. For all the struggle our family has faced, the quiet place of the extraordinarily ordinary is one of the hardest. Although it is hard, it is also the most beautiful. The flavors that emerge out of the silence are not like what we find in the world. When faith and confidence grow, the aroma of heaven in our lives is unmistakable. Unfortunately, too many believers have been tricked into thinking that it is only in the busyness of church activity and conferences God moves and is present. I challenge that. I believe God blesses those that choose to follow Him into the place of marinating and silence. It is not an easy choice; but one which produces the richest flavor. When He lets you rest, there is a good reason. He knows you need to marinate.

If you find yourself in the waiting room today, be at peace in the knowledge that He is bringing forth in you flavors that cannot come by any other means. It is only in rest and silence that faith and confidence can truly grow. Remember that. Do not hasten the end; but let the Master Chef serve you to others only when He is ready. Only then will you have the strength to carry His message to the world.


Homer and Wanda