When God is Silent: Encountering God In The Redwoods

Sometimes God feels so far away and silent.

Achingly silent.

We have been in a season of transition. A dry season. A sad one. The Great Reckoning of my thirties, I’ve been calling it.

And God seems to have been audibly absent from all of it. Distressing when my days have been filled with so much hard.

When everything feels like a struggle, an uphill climb. I told my husband I was tired. Weary. Worn. Exhausted from the hustle.

From either just barely making it, to kids struggling to adjust in a state away from their cousins. Away from a state they have very clearly made known was their home. Especially my eight year old. She says she left her heart behind when we left Oregon.

I have prayed beautiful prayers. Orated and written. Peppered with the perfect scripture, formatted in Jesus’ own prayer template, “Father in Heaven Hallowed be thy name…”

I’ve said the magic words, and still I have no answers.

And it feels as if I speak into a void.

Now my prayers are tears, and soul deep groans. I’ve lost my pretty words and my inner soul fabric simply cries for God.

Because life feels so shattered, and in every effort to side step broken glass, the tiny shards cut deeper.

And my God seems silent these days.

We went to Oregon this summer in hopes of closure after leaving, and some heart filling time with cousins. Instead we found we left our hearts there too.

My oldest daughter has cried every day since we left. We left weeks ago. Deep, groaning, grief stricken sobs.

Sobs like my prayers. Soul fabric deep. Bone marrow deep. Prayers that only say God, I need you. I need you so much it hurts. In ways I can’t speak. But the sad is everywhere. And we are tired. We are growing faint Lord.

But it just sounds like crying.

It’s easy to question God in seasons like these. Seasons where you lack clear direction, perspective, a map.

No trip to Southern Oregon is complete without setting foot in the magical Redwood forest.

So we drove there. Weary. Dry. Hoping for some respite in a rain forest of giants.

And for a little bit. We all lit up again. Like our hearts were fireflies and it was finally dusk.

The kids pretended to fly around like dragons. The oldest was convinced a dragon like Eliot from Pete’s Dragon was living there. There were signs for her everywhere. A million different dragon dens hidden in each tree trunk.

A family climbing in a giant California Redwood Tree at Jedediah State Park

And the trees were so vast, and giant that you could imagine Bigfoot did actually live there.

Bigfoot and Dragons, hiding on Endor.

And you could believe it. Because it’s some sort of old magic there. The old growth. It just watches, as it’s done for centuries. This forest that reaches into the heavens.

The world changes at a dizzying pace around it. But the old trees keep watch. A thread reaching both into our past, and our future.

In silence.

And that’s what I found.

A deep, old, ancient, and full silence.

So deep you can hear the silence somehow.

You can close your eyes under the great verdant canopy, you can smell the moisture in the centuries old wood. And you can feel it all around you. The giant trees.

Closing your eyes doesn’t make them disappear. But neither can you hear them.

You can’t hear anything. All sound is stifled by the massive trees and huge ferns and downed trunks and thick forest carpet.

The quiet engulfs the whole forest and all you hear is the tinkling of laughter as the kids play. Fairy children hiding in the ferns. Dragon kids looking for Bigfoot. Hobbits looking for ents.

Because a forest this ancient, vibrates with silence.

It is thick with silence.

A silence we feel in our souls.

A silence that contradicts our noisy culture.

A silence a lot like God’s I think.

Maybe God vibrates with deep and profound silence too.

When I close my eyes, and my spirit is weary, and my heart cries for God, maybe silence isn’t a lack of God.

Maybe it is God.

Maybe it’s an invitation.

To seek Him. To meet him. To close my eyes at the altar in the middle of my own forest.

Because God is so big and so mighty and so unfathomable, maybe his quiet is also his voice.

The kind of silence you can hear, like in the Redwoods.

No. Not silence.

The Redwoods taught me, it was stillness instead.

Don’t mistake Gods stillness for His silence.

Maybe that’s how the Redwoods became the mighty, deeply rooted, towers that they are.

They are okay with the stillness.

And we are not.

We live in a culture hellbent on filling every hour of our days with noise.

Voices competing for our attention.

We forget how to be still. How to be silent.

Because silence means we are alone with our questions, and with our hurt.

And how often do teachers lead by example?

Jesus went to the desolate places. The still places. The wildwood places.

And he met with the Father in silence. In the stillness. Alone.

This is the place of waiting. The place of relationship. The place of intimacy.

A quote in giant redwood trees

When God is silent, maybe we have the world turned up too loud, and instead our Father is asking us to stop scrolling, to stop laboring, to stop working to figure it out.

And is instead inviting us to meet with him under the canopy of quiet.

To learn to hear his voice. To be still, while he fights for us.

To bring us to a place where we can believe again. In miracles. In hope. In a love that died for us while we were still dead in our sins.

Because it’s so easy to forget when the world screams.

Let me come to the stillness of God as a little child, sure that the next leaf I turn over, the next ancient log I climb through, will be full to the brim of God’s wonders.

Things I can’t fathom.

Because the silence of the ancient Redwoods is their voice.

And sometimes, so is God’s.

He is teaching me to wait in stillness and expectation.

And maybe you’re feeling the same way too. Maybe the kids aren’t adjusting well, or are struggling, maybe you feel like you are failing more than you are succeeding these days, and you are wondering where God is in it all.

Because I am.

I don’t know what the future holds, or when this season of dryness will end.

I don’t know when our souls will light up again like fireflies. Or how to heal my daughters sadness. Or my own.

But I know the One who does.

And I am learning to tune my ears to the voice of my God and to rest in the fullness of his silence, and not be shaken.

And I encourage you too, to lean in. Lean in to the Master Gardner’s stillness, his quiet. Maybe it’s the balm our souls need so we can grow like the Redwoods do. Strong and wise and well tuned to Gods voice. Cultivated in stillness, while the world rages in noise.

Able to withstand any drought or storm. Because we know the depth of our Fathers voice.

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