Because Sometimes We Forget What We Knew

July 21, 2010 | 28 comments

Sometimes, I have to retrace well-worn paths to remember the Truth of things.

How do I forget so quickly?

I heap on the shame,
and I entertain the self-accusing voices,
and I cry out to God again:

My Lord, is this really what a walk of faith is supposed to look like? One step forward, and two steps back? Father, do all the others stumble like I do?

I flip open the Bible, because that’s the best place to remember what I’ve forgotten. A wooden cross, three spikes and an empty grave put all things back in their proper order.

I return to the archives here, and I remember that, yes, I have learned a thing or two over all these years. I haven’t completely lost it after all. I retrace past words to find what I knew.

My trouble of late? Hearing God’s voice. Have I gone deaf to His whispers?

A while back, I wrote Laura a letter. Because Laura had trouble hearing, too.

And today, I repost from the archives.

Because sometimes the best way to remember, is to remind yourself of what you already know. … Thank you, friends, for the grace of letting me retrace these steps today.


Dear Laura,

We stood in a circle of souls linked by hands and hearts. And when we bowed our heads to pray, I heard what you said.

I was on the far side of a circle of thirty-some souls, but I heard you. I really heard you. For I’ve felt those words in my marrow.

You courageously cried out to God, and to us.

Voice shaking, you asked the question: “What does it really mean to hear God’s voice? Because I don’t hear Him speaking to me.”

And in the unspoken places of your voice, I heard this question as well: How come everyone else hears God’s voice, and I hear only painful silence?

We Christians make it seem so easy, don’t we?

We toss around words like: “God spoke to me the other day,” or “I heard God tell me to ….”

And surely, people do hear the voice of God.

But when the deafening silence consumes, we wonder privately: What have I done wrong, that He doesn’t speak to me?

I found one Christian website that inferred that if we aren’t hearing God’s voice, then we must not be listening. The author wrote: “Hearing the voice of God is as natural as hearing your best friend talk to you.”

And then I remember Mother Teresa, who poured out her life as an offering for God. Even Mother Teresa was acquainted with the pain of God’s silence. She once wrote: “I listen and do not hear.”

And then I think of the silence I’ve felt in my own groping.

I’ve never heard Him speak audibly. But I have heard Him speak in other ways, Laura — through His word, and through the Spirit that whispers to my spirit.

Some Christians might tell us it’s natural to hear God’s voice, that it’s as easy as hearing a voice over the telephone. But Laura, at times, I have found it neither natural nor easy to hear His voice. And indeed, I have had times of hearing only this: Silence.

But even when He’s silent, this does not mean He’s absent. (Nor does it necessarily mean that you’re a poor listener!) God will speak when He speaks.

This long-time agnostic-turned-believer has learned to trust Him in the silence. Part of us tries to accept or reject God on the basis of the tangible things. We want a God we can see with our flesh eyes. We demand a God we can hear with our flesh ears. But so much of our faith is based on this upside-down Kingdom of intangibles.

We trust the things we cannot see or hear. If there were no mystery — if there were only tangibles — what would be the point of Faith? How would we be any different than the rest of the world that demands proof in flesh, a world that rejects the idea of Faith in the unseen?

For in faith,
we know that He speaks,
even when we do not hear Him.
In faith,
we know that He is,
even when we cannot see.

“Then Jesus told them … Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” — John 20:29

Love, Jennifer

holy experience

Each Wednesday, Ann Voskamp invites her community of writers to consider spiritual practices that draw us nearer to the heart of Jesus. This week, we consider: The Spiritual Practice of Listening and Hearing God.


Also today, I’m guest-posting over at BibleDude’s place,
where we’re talking about what it means to be fully alive, and fully awake.

Photo: Lydia holds a spike, and that puts all things into proper perspective.
Submitted as part of the
High Calling Blogs photo prompt.

by | July 21, 2010 | 28 comments


  1. Debbie

    Jennifer, I'm so glad you visited your archives and reposted this letter. I needed to read that this morning.

    There have been many times when I hear God's voice. It's never been out loud but a subtle whisper in my heart. There have been times when He's spoken to me directly from His Word. I could be reading a Scripture that I've read many many times but this time it leapt out from the pages of my Bible. It was the Word I needed to hear at that time.

    But lately it seems there's been more silence. So I will trust Him in the silence since He's called me to walk by faith.


  2. Lisa notes...

    "Do all the others stumble like I do?" This "other" sure does. Your words touched me. I'm glad you re-posted the letter (is it possible I read it the first time around? I think I did!). Timeless words, appropriate in timeless ways. Thanks, Jennifer!

  3. lynnrush


  4. RCUBEs

    And through faith, that's when we see the invisibles….that's when we hear the inaudibles. Sometimes, when I feel like God is silent, it is because He wants me to dig deeper in prayer and learn to trust in Him more. God bless.

  5. aimee

    Such a blessing for me today. Thank you so much for the reminder, of all He has done, all I have learned. – He is always faithful, even in the silence.

    many blessings,

  6. Shirl

    How wonderful these words!!! And how encouraging! It is a question I ask so much. How do I know God's voice? I know He speaks through his Word, but what about day-to-day when we ask his advice for our daily situations and decisions we must make? That's where I miss out…

  7. Shirl

    Oh, as for the 'stumbling'… Those who read my blog know that I can be so certain of something one day and the very next day already be doubting! If God has gray hair, I'm sure some of those I caused! 😀

  8. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Shirl — The gray hair comment? You make me smile.

    Thank you for your encouraging words, kind friends. It's nice to know we're not alone, isn't it?

    And each of you reminds me anew that God really does hear us … even when we can't hear Him.


  9. Deidra

    I often think about the time – the hundreds of years – that elapsed between the testaments "without a word from the LORD." I spent five years without so much as a peep from God. Talk about frustrating! It is only by God's grace that I emerged from that silence with my faith intact. He's there, though. I know that now. He's right there in the middle of it all. Even silence.

  10. D.J. Hughes

    "A wooden cross, three spikes and an empty grave put all things back in their proper order." – This is a great perspective – the only perspective, really, to have!

    Sometimes I hear His voice; other times, I just have to trust Him in the silence.

    Glad I "stumbled" onto your blog. It's nice to "meet" you.

  11. Laura

    Learning to trust Him in the silence…that is tough stuff, Jennifer. Last night, my husband told me, "I NEED to feel Him." I was quiet, because I know that sometimes, just sometimes it doesnt' work that way. I've been there. This letter could have been to this Laura.

    Thank you, friend. Your words always lift.

  12. katdish

    "God will speak when He speaks." Yes.

  13. alicia

    Such a great letter, Jennifer. It is hard to hear silence, but to 'hear' him even once- that sweetness can carry through a lot of silence. Thanks for sharing today.

  14. Lea

    What a blessing this has been to me today. I think we are such an audible people that silence almost scares us. But, it is in the silence that we often hear HIM best. Blessings to you!

  15. Karen

    wow…how this touched me deep down inside…the faith walk…when all is silent…and then we remember…what we knew all along….

  16. Amy Sullivan

    I'm so glad you reposted this…I would have missed reading such an amazing piece. Thank you.

    ps Great pic. It gives me chills.

  17. emily wierenga

    your words encourage, friend. thank you so much for stopping by today. i hope you might join me for Imperfect Prose on Thursday tomorrow? bless you.

  18. Claire

    J, all I can say is wow!

    You certainly know how to break the rules and keep them all at the same time.

    As for His voice, I am learning that His silence too, is companiable. It has become an escape from the commotion. I know He sits with me in the silence.

    Thank you for sharing your heart.

  19. Missie

    What a beautiful post, thank you

  20. S. Etole

    I'm thankful I didn't miss this … great reminder.

  21. Tabitha

    I'm so grateful you reposted this, because God knew I needed it at this very moment. Thank you Jennifer!

  22. Duane Scott

    I'm guessing you won't mind, but is it okay if I put you on my blogroll? Your blog is worth sharing.

  23. Connie Mace

    Thank you Jennifer for the beautiful reminder.

    When GOD is silent, when I'm held by the thread of faith, I remember.

    Again and again, He told His people to remember the things He had done. So He calls me to remember.

    And then I know –He hasn't brought me to this point just to starve me in the desert.

    I walk outside and feel The Breath of Heaven on my face. I listen to what He has given…birds singing. I look at what He has given…a leaf washed by gentle drops of rain.

    A measure of comfort that I choose, in faith, to accept.

  24. Janis@Open My Ears Lord

    Thank you for sharing your heart and helping the rest of us realize we are not the only ones who can't hear the Lord–especially when we need an answer! Thus the title of my blog, Open My Ears Lord.
    I know I need to be a better listener. More willing to spend time quietly at his feet. And if there is only silence, I have to trust that He will honor my willing spirit to be there before Him.
    He will speak what and when He knows His word will perform the work for which he intended it. I am so glad you pointed that out!
    And, I'm glad that you pointed out someone such as Mother Theresa not being able to hear the Lord all the time! We all go through dry times. The Lord desires our faithfulness!
    Thanks for the encouragement, Jennifer.
    The photo is dynamic!

  25. Karyn

    What beautiful words! I always hesitate to say "I heard God say…." or "I know God wants….from me" because I struggle when I hear others say that when I feel like I haven't heard Him at all. I think faith is more often not hearing Him than it is hearing Him because we now see dimly and its hanging on to those precious moments when He seems close. Thank you for your authenticity.

  26. Jennifer

    "What would be the point of faith."–yes, so aptly put. I get more silence than words. I do much better when I hear than when I do not. The past couple months have been a desert of silence. Sometimes, I know it's me not having the time to listen, not making the time. But other times, He just simply doesn't speak–I worry, too, that it's something I've done. But I still believe and wait (many times impatiently) for Him to bless me with His voice again.

  27. Pat

    Hi Jennifer
    This is a very good post and I am also glad you pulled it out! There are so many times when it seems as if God is "Totally Silent",and we began to feel as if God does not care,even though we know for sure that he does and his love for us is great.But the "Stillness of God" is such a mystery until we go back to his word.And like Jehoshaphat we must hold onto his words and not be afraid,not be discouraged but keep believing God's promises.For God will do all he said. Wonderful post Jennifer I was truly blessed by the read,have a wonderful evening.
    Love ya


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