Take a Seat.
After speaking at NewSpring Church in November 2012, I had the neat opportunity to meet a beautiful young lady God had touched significantly through my story as she watched from the Greenville Campus. Since that was – and still is – the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done, it was profoundly encouraging to know God did work that my words could never accomplish. Her beaming smile and animation fed something wonderful in my soul…
Meet Caroline Cann.
Since then, we have followed each other’s lives on social media and recently exchanged messages on Facebook. The semester after we met, Caroline moved to Columbia to become a Gamecock. She ran track for USC for a year and finished her NCAA eligibility playing volleyball. This past season was her last, and she has now jumped into broadcasting for the SEC Network (beach and indoor volleyball) and GamecocksOnline (videos and social media videos). Caroline will graduate this December with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, and as that life milestone nears she is working diligently and seeking God’s direction for what’s next.
However, she has recently encountered a window of time where God felt silent. This was particularly frustrating as meaningful life decisions loom on the horizon…
There have been times where I felt like Jesus wasn’t speaking to me.
I used to think these seasons of “quietness” meant Jesus thought I was doing well enough to lose the training wheels and try doing some things on my own.
Almost like Jesus was saying, “Hey, Caroline, you’re doing great. I’m going to rest my voice for a little while and let you handle some things.”
I also took the silence to mean I was in the middle of a transition. Pastor Judah Smith called it “in the meantime” in one of his sermons. I though Jesus’s silence meant nothing big was happening in my life so I could just sit back and He’d let me know when I needed to get ready for the next happenings of life. But after a few weeks of what I thought was silence…I started to get frustrated in my quiet time….shorten my time in prayer. And eventually my time in both disappeared.
I figured the next big event to happen in life would be my college graduation and by then Jesus would let me know what I needed to do. But for now, I was “in the meantime” and could just enjoy this season of life.
With one semester to go, I thought I was doing really great. Then it hit me.
Oh my gosh, I graduate in four months and Jesus hasn’t let me know what’s next. Sure, I’ve heard some great things in the little time I’ve spent with him and the sermons at church have been fire……but……..but……why don’t I have peace about what’s next? Why am I feeling like Jesus hasn’t been there for me? Why am I getting the silent treatment right now?
I decided to write down different events from the past six months where I felt Jesus’s guidance. For the first time in months, I was putting pen to paper and discussing things in my life with the one who designed it. Memories and little reminders flowed out of my head and on to paper – only to immediately be interrupted with another stream of consciousness that was so clear and so beautiful.
It made me pause and say, “Only Jesus.”
It hit me for the first time in months that Jesus wasn’t giving me the silent treatment. He wasn’t ignoring me. He hadn’t abandoned me. He was actually teaching me all along.
There are so many places in the Bible where Jesus is referred to as Rabbi or Teacher; I have read over these verses time and time again but never considered pausing over a word like teach. But in Matthew 5:2 – just before one of the most important sermons begins – the Bible reads, “…and he began to teach them.”
Six little words that, at first glance, don’t seem too exciting. And certainly not as exciting as the sermon that follows, beginning in verse 3. However, when I picked up Matthew 5 this go ’round, I was drawn to the first two verses. And especially the second sentence in the passage:
Now when Jesus saw the crowds,
he went up on a mountainside and sat down.
His disciples came to him,
and he began to teach them.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be more like Jesus. So, anytime he does something or begins to do something, I want to know about it. In Matthew 5:1, Jesus saw the crowds, so he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Visually, this captures my interest.
I know me, and I like being part of a crowd.
As a student at the University of South Carolina, there are few things better than being in Williams Brice Stadium with 80,000 of your closest friends. But trying to listen to something important while 2001 blasts across the stadium just isn’t possible.
Jesus knows this. So he moved up to the mountainside…….sat down……and “[h]is disciples came to him and he began to teach.”
The reason I believed I wasn’t hearing Jesus was because I didn’t do what his disciples did……follow him. There’s little doubt in my mind that those on the outskirts of the crowd in Matthew 5 could overhear the Sermon on the Mount, but there were probably very few who could hear well enough to learn.
Jesus brought his disciples close, offered them rest by sitting, and then began to talk to them where they could listen carefully.
My “in the meantime” wasn’t silent at all. Jesus was never not speaking to me. I just wasn’t following Him and allowing Him to put me in a position to really listen. I think sometimes we surround ourselves with a crowd full of work, parties, and a calendar so full of events that we aren’t really able to listen. I realized that as I neared my last semester of college I fell back into a crowd who was overhearing Jesus but not following. I was not a follower who was able to sit and intently listen to every word. Life is busy and Jesus gets that. He just always wants to spend time with us so we can sit, rest, and listen to everything he has to teach us.
Caroline Cann, Guest Blogger