"Why is it that we are so busy with the future? It is not our province. Is there not a criminal interference with Him to who it belongs, in our feverish, anxious attempts to dispose of it, filling it with shadows of good and evil shaped by our own wild imaginations? To do God's will as fast as it is made known to us, to inquire hourly...what He requires of us, and to leave ourselves, our friends, and every interest at His control with a cheerful trust that the path which He marks out leads to our perfection and to Himself, this is at once our duty and happiness. Why will we not walk in the plain, simple way?" ~ William E. Channing
Silence and a Blank Canvas
My family recently came home from our annual "Family Camp". We spend a week with our church family at a local camp where we eat together, sleep in cabins, and listen to preaching every morning and evening. It's great. This year many of my family and friends were able to "give up" burdens or even dreams to the Lord...and He in response showed them some things about their future. I am excited for them, overjoyed for them, and thankful for them.
But my experience this year was entirely different. Several days before Camp, actually one week precisely, I laid before Him all my little worries, wants, desires...my life. And so at Camp, after preaching, I was able to go to the alter with a free heart, ask Him to search me, and He would...and there was nothing but a simply surrendered heart. I was over-joyed. But then, He didn't show me anything about my future. Instead, He had taken my every expectation and held onto them. He didn't give them back. My future was one large blank canvas.
I went to Him willing to be a missionary. He didn't ask me to do that. I told Him I would stay in the United States and serve him in simple normal fashion. He didn't tell me that was my ministry. I told Him I would suffer willingly. He didn't say anything. I told Him I would give up my little desire to remain near my family and friends....that I didn't need the education that I desired if He didn't want me to....I would give up publishing my book, dancing, desire for health, my dream of future children....ALL of it. And He remained silent.
Jesus showed me no hint of His future for me. Maybe I couldn't handle knowing it? Whatever His reason, I was shown nothing. Even when others all around me were. I had to learn that Silence isn't proof that nothing exists, but only that it isn't time for me to know. Silence isn't something to fear. A question mark only means endless possibilities. I have come to realize He is silent on purpose. He knows my heart. It was time for other's to know His will. I am not supposed to know right now. My duty is to remain willing, and to obey what is already given me to do. How simple. Details don't matter when your Master is the Omniscient. Doubts are no concern when your life's pilot is Jesus. In acceptance lieth peace. Surrendering to the unknown is just as "spiritual" as surrendering your life to be a missionary. Remaining faithful in what He has already given us is just as important as choosing to be faithful in the future.
Having no expectations other than that He will guide me is liberating. It is lovely being totally given up to Christ. It's the easiest, most natural, restful thing I've ever done. If my old dreams came true -- Hallelujah! If He decides to change them -- Hallelujah! Either way it is good. As long as He goes with me, I'm content. And I already have that guaranteed. He said He will never leave me nor forsake me. It doesn't matter where others go, what they've been asked to do, what missions they've been given to accomplish. I'm willing and He has given me no new orders. So here is where I am, and here is where He must want me. A long stretch of white canvas suddenly doesn't look so bare and ugly. It's beautiful...clean, ready to be used. Excitement thrills my soul....He has been given permission to paint any color. Whatever He chooses will be best. So whatever color is chosen will be perfect. Little me...a white canvas....ready to be used perfectly. Knowing that, I can dwell in silence.
"Let us then think only of the present, and not even permit our minds to wander with curiosity into the future. The future is not yet ours; perhaps it never will be. It is exposing ourselves to temptation to wish to anticipate God, and to prepare ourselves for thing which He may not destine for us. If such things should come to pass, He will give us light and strength according to the need. Why should we desire to meet difficulties prematurely, when we have neither strength nor light as yet provided for them? Let us give heed to the present which duties are pressing. It is fidelity to the present which prepares us for fidelity in the future." ~ Fenelon