Last night at church, I had the honor of listening to Mike Smith, a missionary to Russia. Despite having an extraordinarily normal name, Mike was quite possibly the most charismatic person to ever grace our church's stage. He exceeded human decibel limits, and while that would typically repel people, it only made him more interesting.
His message was one of encouragement. In between his descriptions of the people and land in Russia, he would stop to stress the fact that he "had no clue what he was supposed to be doing." For almost a year, he had been preaching to an empty room. Every Sunday.
He and his wife went out on long expeditions into the surrounding towns on outreach with no response. No matter what they tried or where they went they faced rejection. Naturally, they prayed and prayed for months that God would show them what they were supposed to be doing, but like the people of Russia, He didn't seem to respond.
Finally, when the Smith's had all but given up, God gave them a peace about what they were doing and even began growing their church. Taken aback, Mike couldn't understand why God would put him through an entire year of failure. The whole time, his family was exactly where He wanted them to be, so why would God not bless that?
It was at that point in his story that Mike slowed down and became very quiet. His face lit up with excitement, but he remained completely serious when he said:
"That's when I learned that sometimes God just steps back to see what you'll do."
His words are still floating around in my head, and they make so much sense. All too often, we stop what we're doing when our prayers aren't immediately answered, but we fail to realize that God has His own will and His own schedule.
So, rather than being so quick to give up, when Heaven is silent...