A Season of Hiddenness

“I have had enough, Lord.”  The words of the prophet Elijah, from 1 Kings 19 could easily have been written by me.  Overcome by discouragement, exhaustion, and grief, Elijah’s prayer communicated his desire for the Lord to relieve him from the pressures of his life.  Weary from battle, from ministering to a stubborn people, and from being a lonely voice for God’s truth, his discouragement came from a place that desired for God’s standard.  

The response to that prayer?  God’s provision and a journey to a place where he would be hidden in a cave. 

Like the prophet Elijah, I feel like I am in a season where God has hidden me in a cave.  Elijah wasn’t hiding, but he was hidden.  He was hidden for his own protection, and for a season. He was hidden so that God could prepare him, give him rest, and strengthen him so that later he could use him to fulfill his calling. 

This wasn’t the first time that God hid Elijah.  Earlier, in 1 Kings 17, Elijah was hidden by a river, and God promised to send ravens to feed Elijah.  Ravens.  That made no sense.  Elijah had never experienced or seen that before.  Others would not have predicted that God would work in that way.  Yet, that is exactly what God did.

Like Elijah, in this season, God has been sending ravens to nourish and feed me.  As I am in my cave, or my river, or whatever you want to call working from my bedroom during the coronavirus, I feel so different than the life I have lived for the last 7 years…. The last 17 years…. Normally I am with the public every day.  Now I am with myself every day.  My children are at school, my husband is at work.  Even church is no longer a space to be fed in this season.  It makes no sense.  I have never experienced or seen God work in this way before.  My mentors and friends would not have predicted that God would work in this way.  Yet it is exactly what God is doing.

So I wait for the ravens.

I don’t recognize them when they come.  But after they have gone, I feel fed, nurtured, refreshed, pastored.

The ravens come in the form of professors, counselors, spiritual directors, books, articles, assignments.  I thought that starting my masters degree during the pandemic would help me to feel like I am not wasting the time.  It certainly does that, but it is doing something else.  It is bringing to me the nourishment, the soul care that I need.  That I have needed for quite some time.  I am slowly learning that our hearts become restored and healed in our seasons of hiddenness.

Last week during a moment of worship, God showed me a picture of a sonogram.  It was clearly a sonogram, much like the ones I got when I was pregnant with each of my children, and the Lord used that picture to reveal to my heart that I am in fact expecting.  Just because what He is doing is hidden, doesn’t mean He isn’t working together a miracle.  Preparing internally for what will eventually be seen externally.  Just like when you are expecting a child, preparations need to be made.  The Lord helped me to understand that I need to prepare like I would if I was expecting a child.  When you are expecting a child, you get the room ready, you prepare your heart, you purchase the tools you will need to handle the responsibility that God gives you.  It’s a temporary season of growth and pain that will eventually give birth to new life.

So I prepare.  I expect.  I receive.  And I wait.  

The way that Elijah comes out of the cave is different than what you might imagine.  The Lord did tell Elijah to expect Him, that He was getting ready to pass by.  But He didn’t come in the obvious.  He came in the stillness.

A great and powerful wind, but the Lord was not in the wind.

After the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

After the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.

After the fire, came a gentle whisper.  It was in this whisper that the Lord spoke, giving Elijah direction, pulling him out of his season of hiddenness.

As I wait for the Lord to pull me out of this season, I recognize that it’s in the stillness that I will hear His voice.

Praying in the New Year with Wisdom

Every year, as the Christmas season winds down and we start to get a glimpse of the changing calendar, I always pray for the Lord to lay on my heart a specific word for the year. In years past it’s been words like refuge, rest, and abide. This year, the word that the Lord gave me was wisdom. I encourage you to do the same, to pray for a specific word as we head into 2021.

In the past, I have always thought that wisdom was something that would come with age. To me, it seemed as if I was almost too young to not just pray for wisdom, but for me to even to expect God to entertain the idea. So this year, when the word wisdom was firmly planted into my heart, I sensed it was from the Lord in such a real way. Even still, I sat on it for a while. I certainly prayed for wisdom, but I didn’t share this word out loud like I normally did. You could say I “fleeced” it a bit, taking a page from Gideon’s story in the book of Judges.   

The first confirmation I had was during a moment of worship. Our retired Senior Pastor (senior as in he is old, not in charge), whom I love and respect dearly, sensed the Lord drop a word in his heart for me. As he came over to pray for me, the words he spoke over me almost took my breath away. He was praying for wisdom. As he did, I felt the presence of the Lord as He used that moment to speak an echo into my heart.

Pay attention to the echoes God speaks into your heart.

For most people, that might have been enough of a confirmation, but I tend to be stubborn. I almost held my prayers back as I wondered if it wasn’t humble of me to ask for wisdom. Almost as if I hadn’t yet earned the right to.

The second confirmation came a week later. I have three prominent leaders in my field of ministry that I admire and respect. Through various ministry opportunities, the Lord has opened the door for me to have the privilege of direct contact with them. From time to time, the Lord will prompt me to reach out to them, in order to offer them prayer and encouragement. As I was in the Word studying, the Lord prompted me to reach out to all three of them. That wasn’t typically how He worked in that area, at least in my life, so I was quick to obey. Within minutes, all three had responded, asking me to pray for them to have wisdom. Wow. All three were roughly my age, and yet they were boldly asking for the same thing that I was timidly approaching in my own prayer life. As I got down on my knees to pray for them, I included myself in the prayer. I prayed for an outpouring of wisdom in every area of their lives, in my life, and in our respective ministries. It was such a powerful moment for me because God allowed these leaders to speak to my place of insecurity, without them even realizing it. As I prayed for wisdom on how to even seek wisdom, I committed to making my year one that would be a quest for what this meant in my own life. I wish I could say that immediately God dropped a word into my heart, or led me to a specific scripture. Instead, there was stillness.

Part of the process of seeking wisdom is being ok with the stillness.

We tend to busy ourselves, oftentimes over-extending ourselves, so stillness feels foreign. Yet it’s in those moments that the Lord can work if we allow Him to.

As we approach a new year, it is my encouragement to you, to seek a specific word from the Lord to guide your heart and mind as you grow in Him in the new year.  

Allow the Lord to speak to you, and be open to what He has to say. He loves you. No matter your age, your position, or your past, you are incredibly loved by the author of wisdom. 

James 1:5  But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. NASB