sack of potatoes.

i’ve started running.

i am not a runner.

but i’ve started running.

last fall, my good friend ben told me about a couch-to-5k group i could join.

so i did.

so i show up most every monday and thursday evenings and saturday mornings.

and i run.

i make ben go with me.

ben, who actually is a runner. as in, he’s training for a marathon.

i am not training for a marathon.

because, remember, i am not a runner. 

but i run.

after the first two weeks or so, ben and i show up to meet our group on saturday morning and the guy who led us on thursday says, “you two are going with the 10k group this morning, because…”

and i’m not sure what he said after that on account of laughing too loudly to hear his rationale.

but i am pretty sure he was drunk.

or maybe just crazy.

probably both.

but we did it. rather, i did it. ben did it, too, but as it is he can run a bazillion miles without stopping. he’s like a machine.

i’m like a…not machine.

(not that kind of machine, anyway.)

so, i keep showing up. and i keep running. yesterday, we ran 6.06 miles on a new route.

at 6:30 in the morning.

YESTERDAY WAS SATURDAY.

on the way back, as the marathoners were running past us (evidently these are foreigners who get there before everyone and just run and run because they enjoy it so much and i’m not sure they ever stop, ever), i ended up filing in behind a girl in my group when we were nearing the end in order to get out of the way of these marathoners.

she didn’t speed up, and neither did i. i kept the same, safe distance behind her the whole time so she wouldn’t feel like i was chasing her, or all up in her personal space. (nevermind that i couldn’t have caught her if i was actually chasing her.) i almost said to her, “don’t worry, friend. i’m not going to compete with you, or try to pass you. you’re doing great! i’m right behind you, silently begging god to help us cheering for us both to make it to the end.” i didn’t say it to her because i didn’t need to. if i had said anything, while all of these sticks and twigs from a far-off land zoomed past us, it might have thrown us both off the sidewalk. instead of saying anything, i silently honored her space and my space. we both had to trust each other in our silence.

(mind you, she may not have had any thoughts at all about the situation. we were near the end of our trek and she was probably just trying to finish. i have no idea. this is just how i was processing it, and you all know by now that i WAY OVER-THINK THINGS.)

later in the day, after a very long nap, i took zella on a walk. we went around a fenced-in state lakey-thing in the neighborhood behind my house, so i let princess poops-a-lot off her leash so she could be free to run around.

when i take zella on walks, i’ve learned to let them be about her as much as i can. she will stop and sniff anything and try to catch everything, so i have stopped trying to fuss at her or tug on her leash so that we can both just enjoy this time. it’s time i can devote just to her, and i find other time to get my own exercise.

in general, i’m trying to stopping fussing and tugging on leashes so i and those around me can just enjoy our time together.

yesterday, i just walked slowly around the lake as she had her own adventure. even with my back to her, she was never out of my sight. and if i walked ahead of her while she explored, i paused and enjoyed watching her. i would have called after her if there was cause for concern, but there wasn’t. so i didn’t say anything to hurry or interrupt her play, but i slowed down enough for her to be able to see me when she was ready to continue.

when zella was around 18 months old, we moved to my grandparents’ farmhouse in the country. we had a 23-acre sprawl on the property of our family’s ministry on which she had full reign. she could run and play to her heart’s content. we lived on a hill, and i would let her out back and she could run as far as she could ever want to.

but sometimes, instead of taking off for the field, that girl would take off down the driveway and run down the road. and i would take off after her, hollering after her like a crazy lady, praying that her end would not be met with a car in front of me.

if insanity is defined as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, then let’s just say this happened enough times to qualify.

but always, i would catch her. if not immediately, then eventually. and i would throw her over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes and carry her back up the hill we had both just charged down, fussing at and kissing her the whole way up.

yesterday when i let her off her leash, i wasn’t worried that she would run off. and i didn’t have to say anything to “encourage” or “support” her, other than to express my delight in her when she came chasing after me. and she stayed next to me then, until something else captured her attention.

when we neared the end of the opening of the fence, she was near. i only had to say her name and she stopped for me to attach her leash.

zella is ten now. 

i don’t have to scold her anymore.

she trusts me, and has an understanding of my love for her. she knows my voice and is no longer defiant when i say her name because she trusts me. she knows when i call after her in caution, and when i say her name playfully.

she is at my feet right now. in fact, she does not leave my side when we are home together, and will not go farther than she can see me whenever i take her out to the country to run around, or down the street. in fact, these days, when we are together, she makes sure some part of her is touching some part of me. (and, yes, i do realize this is starting to bordering co-dependency, only the difference is that our relationship doesn’t make me feel like a crazy person. not sure about her. seems fine.)

she knows she is safe in my presence. she trusts my presence, even if i’m not saying anything to her. i think she might even enjoy my presence, even if i’m not scratching her belly. and i love having her near, even when we are not playing. occasionally, i will reach down to rub behind her ears so she knows i know she’s there.

occasionally, i will reach down to rub behind her ears so i know i know she’s there.

my dog, who is my only child, is my delight.

god’s been silent lately. close, near. but silent.

his silence used to make me nervous, like a child in hiding waiting to be caught for lying or hitting.

but i know now he’s not mad at or disappointed in me or giving me the silent treatment.

because god ONLY loves. even when we don’t hear him.

and i am not god in either of these stories.

but when i did not say anything yesterday to my friend, my thoughts turned to the lord’s silence. and his presence. and how, if in his presence there is fullness of joy, it doesn’t always mean he is doting on us or holding us or kissing us or even talking to us at all. in his silence, we learn to trust him.

a new baby, when he is fresh out of the oven and new to the world, needs and gets to experience, in most cases, all the love and attention and affection in the world.

as we grow in our relationships with those who love us most, and the one whose love is beyond compare or measure, we have to -we get to- simply trust love, even when we are not being shown absolute affection. we simply know we are safe in love. as we grow, by the time we are older in years and/or maturity, we learn from experience how to trust divine love. we are confident in this because we have tasted and seen and know what it looks like, and what it doesn’t. or what it’s not supposed to, anyway.

and so sometimes, experiencing the fullness of joy might be when we are just in his silent presence.

his silent, but still adoring, trustworthy presence.

oh, that we might have one true taste of this in our lives, how we might change and be changed and god’s love through us might change others.

i’m still learning all of this.

and i’m still learning that i’m still learning all of this.

maybe you’re still learning that you’re still learning all of this, too.

when i was with zella yesterday, just letting my dog be a dog, and enjoying her doing it, i thought of what oswald chambers says about god’s silence, based on john 11:6.

Has God trusted you with His silence – silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home of Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? God will give you the very blessing you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible – with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, then praise Him – He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes. The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (Matt 7:9). He did not give you a stone, and today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious – it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.” His silence is the very proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy – silence.

{My Utmost for His Highest, October 11. emphasis mine.}

and i just wonder today, if we are learning that god is trusting you and me through his silence?

or maybe he already has?

may you experience the fullness of joy today, even if he is not all together silent.

and especially if he is.

xo

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tay
    Feb 17, 2014 @ 00:55:59

    I absolutely love this…I have been experiencing God’s silence lately, specifically when it comes to my future…and even more specifically my future husband. He – whomever he may be – has been on my mind quite a bit recently and it’s all I can do but to just pray for him. I have a feeling that he is close…that he may be in my life right now or will be very soon. But of course, he may also be very far away. God, I hope that the former is true. I pray daily that God brings him quickly and swiftly, but I have been receiving silence on the other end. I’ve always been told that the waiting gets harder as the days go by, but I never really believed it. But trust me, now I do. It got harder this semester because night after night, I lie in bed, listening to my roommate a few feet away talk about her wonderfully sweet boyfriend and how perfectly he treats her. Of course, I am ecstatically happy for them. He is everything that she deserves, but I quietly and silently hope for the same for myself one day. This isn’t something that I talk about often to my friends, especially to my roommate, because I know that she would feel guilty for being happy. And that’s the last thing that I would want her to feel. But, I also don’t talk about these emotions because I know that I am still so young and I just have to wait. Patiently. Quietly. Silently. Like a good Christian girl.

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