Rachel and I connected through several writer friends and groups a few years back when I was just entering the writing world and she was much more established. Her story of faith and patience in a season of waiting is inspiring and I can’t wait for you to read her encouragement here.
2015 was the year God stopped talking to me.
It was the hardest, most stressful year of my life (to date):
My husband quit his job to go into business with his father.
We bought our first house.
I launched my blog.
I finished my first book and started my public speaking career.
My best friend from high school overdosed on heroine and died.
All of that caused so much stress in my life, it literally almost broke me – my gallbladder. So to top it all off, I had to struggle with a significant health challenge that resulted in hospital trips, tests and many sleepless nights filled with excruciating pain.
And in the midst of aaaaallllll that, God went completely, and utterly, silent.
New year’s day 2016 I sat on my living room couch, face red-stained and eyes puffy from hours of crying, my voice half-strained from screaming – at God – in particularly colorful language at times.
As I sat down to reflect on the previous year and craft my plans and goals for the next, I realized 2015…..well…..sucked.
For months as I sat awake in hours of pain, I pleaded with God to show Himself to me. To show me the purpose in any of this. I had reasoned if the physical manifestation of my healing hadn’t come immediately, there must be something I was supposed to learn in the meantime. Something God wanted to teach me in this place of waiting.
I begged Him to tell me what that was, and let Him know I was fully open and on-board with learning whatever the lesson. Honestly.
But awaiting a reply, I got: NOTHING.
Not a peep.
Not a single word.
And then, our basement flooded.
…That’s when the crying started.
It was New Year’s Eve. And as we sat at home – instead of ringing in the new year with our friends, we were dismantling drywall and sucking out water with a carpet shampooer – the weight of everything just hit me. I reached my breaking point. Enough tears to fill our basement a second time came spilling out of me.
I cried out to God again,
If you’re going to make me go through all of this, at least tell me what I’m supposed to be learning! What I’m supposed to be getting out of it!!
I don’t deserve this! I am being so faithful. Do you not see me? Are you not paying attention? Look at me!! What more do you want from me?!
I began to feel a little like the bi-polar David of Psalms: “I love you Lord, your eyes are always upon me, you have blessed me abundantly.” Next verse, “God, why do you hate me? My enemies are about to destroy me, why aren’t you doing anything?!”
And that’s when I got angry.
By New Year’s day, I was yelling most of the same things; just use your imagination to insert expletives into almost every sentence.
I would love if this were the part when I tell you, And then God’s voice boomed audibly into my living room and said, “Oh Rachel, ye of little faith, I Am still right here.”
But that’s not what happened.
This was the first time since becoming a Christian – really becoming a Christian, since God had pursued me and I met Him in a real and intimate and personal way five years ago – that I wasn’t hearing from Him, that I couldn’t feel Him close to me.
I had relegated myself to the thought that I was in dry spiritual desert season and would have to wait it out. (You can read about the desert season here.)
But No Matter How Vast They Span, God NEVER Leaves Us In A Desert.
Here’s the Rest of the Story
A couple months prior to my New Year’s Day meltdown, a friend reached out to me asking me if I could recommend any specific scripture to help her through a current rough season. I told her, “That’s not really the way my relationship with God works – I hear from Him in songs, and books about Him, or books about the Bible, or even from Him directly (in my mind).”
I recommended some songs that really helped me when I was in the same place, and a couple books she could read. And went on about my day.
See, I had tried reading the Bible all the way through, more than once, without success. And anytime I was dealing with something specific, I even tried flipping to the concordance to find verses that applied to my own situation. But my search always turned up empty – the verses would feel disconnected from what I was going through. So I gave up on that too.
Whenever I needed an answer about something, I picked up a Christian book on the topic or found a preacher teaching a message about it to get my answer.
In those weeks of silence while battling my health symptoms, I began reading a book a friend had recommended to me. It was a topical study Bible called, “The Complete Personalized Promise Bible for Women”. For each section/topic (health, finances, faith, hurt, fear, anger, etc), there is a promise, a faith confession for that promise, then scriptures backing up the confession.
I planned on using it for reference to find healing scriptures to meditate on, but I started with page 1 of the introduction and I’m glad I did. It hooked me, and I started reading it as a daily devotional of sorts.
My Sticky Note Moment…
Months into 2016 while reading from this book, I came across this verse in 2nd Thessalonians: “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold on to the teachings passed on to you, whether by word of mouth OR BY LETTER.”
I started laughing as it occurred to me Paul was writing to the early church in Thessalonica; those people were getting their messages from God in written letters, via Paul.
And in that moment Paul’s letter was saying to me: “God has written you a letter. Stand firm and hold on to the things He wrote down 2,000 years ago.”
The next day as I sat writing in my prayer journal, praising God for using that verse to speak to me, I started laughing again as another revelation came: The Bible is called “God’s Word” – literally God’s Words. The Words He spoke to the people He loved.
He had already said plenty to me, and it was all written down and recorded, preserved in time, so I could revisit it anytime I wanted or needed. I had a whole book full of sticky notes from Him!
I was humbled. How arrogant of me to expect – demand – Him to talk to me, when I want, and in the manner I want?
All that time I was in the desert, He was talking to me right in those pages, but I wasn’t receiving it. I wasn’t even looking in the right place!
How many tears (and angry words), how much stress and heartache, would I have saved myself if I had only looked there earlier? How different could the year 2015 have been?
God – thanks for never leaving us, and never forsaking us. Thanks for loving us enough to send and leave Your Word for us. And thanks for your everlasting and unconditional grace that we can never ever use up, because we need it – big time.
Rachel Dawn is a Writer. Speaker. Lover of Jesus. The Imperfect Wife of Barry. And Restored Dreamer.
After growing up in a small farm town and marrying her Prince Charming at a young age, she found herself divorced, discouraged, disenchanted, and starting over at 25. Thankfully, God showed up in the middle of her “Now What?” Moment and led her through rebuilding her life and reigniting her dreams.
Today, she lives in Cincinnati with her wonderful husband and a house full of animals.
She writes and speaks with transparency and vulnerability, telling humorous and impactful stories from her own life about resiliency, and overcoming painful, unpredictable circumstances despite insurmountable odds. Whether reading her work or listening to her speak, it feels as if she’s chatting one-on-one over a cup of coffee.
Follow her Blog at: www.RachelDawnWrites.com
Get more info on her Book: www.NowWhatStory.com
Connect on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/RachelDawnWrites