Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Guidance Of Silence

“God answers all prayers.  Sometimes the answer is no.”  Most of us are familiar with that old saying. But we often forget the truth of its words as we work through the frustrations of our daily lives. We spend a significant amount of our time thinking about our future, planning our next steps, and sorting out our priorities and choices. Sometimes the plans and the decisions come easily, with remarkably positive outcomes. Other times our direction is muddled, and we struggle with our next set of decisions.

Should I go this way or that? Which option should I choose? When do I have to decide? What will befall me, or others, if I make the “wrong” decision? The confusion of our decision is often as overwhelming as we feel the decision itself is.

Some choose to make their decisions by constructing a logical decision tree of “this therefore that,” led by intellectual reasoning. Others rely on gut instinct – what feels right – and then plunge full steam ahead. Still others flip the coin and march out to “see what happens.” And at certain points in the lives, some choose to ask for help – for Divine guidance.

Asking for such guidance requires no set format to follow, because the Divine meets us where we are, and when the time is right. But there are some pretty good guidelines worth observing. The request can happen in prayer, in meditation, or in reflection while sitting on a mountain rock, sandy beach, or a church pew. Our choice. It happens in our personal alone time and space that we create for just such times. We approach these moments being honest with ourselves about who we are and why we are requesting such guidance. We act in the humility that we do not have all the answers, and with a willingness to turn over our future to something (someone) other than ourselves. We trust the Guide, and the guidance we will receive, and we will follow the guidance given. All of this is a large commitment to make – the seeking, the listening, the follow-through. Without such commitment, we are wasting our time and the Divine’s efforts.

The Divine does not simply tell us what we would like to hear. The Divine is not our fairy godmother there to grant our wishes. Guidance is simply that: “go this way and follow this path where it takes you.” Where it will take us is where the Divine wants us to go, to a destination we often cannot foresee, to an outcome we may not have selected.  It will likely not be an easy journey. Hence we should consider our request carefully before we ask. Yet we proceed on faith, sustained in trust.

We may be motivated by a specific, particular objective. But the Divine will respond by guiding us to a much greater objective, one that may seemingly bear little resemblance to our original desire. We will likely be shown only the next step from a longer-range plan invisible to our view. And sometimes even that next step may wait for a long period while the Divine is invisibly maneuvering on our behalf. We may feel we are bumping into closed doors one after another. Nothing seems to open up for us; our request for guidance seems to go unanswered.

It is hard for us to accept that no answer is our answer – for now. Answers are not just about good judgments, but also about good timing. The Divine will ultimately give us our full answer, but at the right time when we are ready to truly hear it and the Universe is aligned to respond to us. So there is a need for the virtue of patience – a virtue missing in many of us who want answers now. But the Divine works on its own timetable regardless of our impatience. The job of waiting is on us; the job of hurrying is not on the Divine.

When we seek out the assistance and guidance of the Divine, and hear back only silence, we need to hear the Divine Silence. We hear that silence, and thereby we move slowly and cautiously. It is a Divine Silence I have heard many times. Listening to answers that may not have yet fully arrived, but are on route. So we wait for the Divine clarity. Wait knowing that “God answers all prayers.”

“Clarity is learned by being patient in the presence of chaos. Tolerating disarray, remaining at rest, gradually one learns to allow muddy water to settle and proper responses to reveal themselves.” (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, #15)

© Randy Bell   2015       

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