Finding Purpose in Silent Seasons

By Micah Maddox
Originally Published in Be Still Magazine, Issue 5 

I bowed my head and prayed, “Lord just show me what to do, and I will do it.”   

The frustration was in full gear. I knew God had a plan, a purpose, a passion deep inside my heart. But the clarity I needed was lacking. I wanted to do something great for God, but I couldn’t seem to break through.  

There are seasons in our lives when we know we want to do something big for God, but the answers and direction we are looking for don’t come like we think they should. Perhaps you’ve had your own begging session with God as you wait for an answer, direction, or destination.   

Isn’t it just like us to want to know the details? If God would just tell us when, where, how, what, how much, what kind, what time, and how long, then we would be able to live confidently in what He has for us. We could press on in our purpose with passion and the predictable would propel us into the next season of life.  

But I’m learning God’s calling and purpose in my life are often a moment-by-moment experience of obedience. It’s a step-by-step kind of life. I get tripped up when I have a big goal in my view. I start scheming and planning how I can get there faster. But God continues to teach me that life is best lived at His pace — never rushed — always planned by Him — always perfect in His time and His way.  

Living with purpose even when clarity is not coming, or your calling doesn’t seem to be moving in the right direction means you live every day focused on the goal — a closer relationship with Jesus.  

If you know God has called you to something or you are hoping for clarity for your calling, living with purpose in the in-between is vital to your spiritual stability. Living a stable life with Jesus means you pursue Him more than you pursue a calling or a passion. It’s all about pursuing Him and His purpose.  

Purpose is like the fall out of faith. It is knowing God has a plan and living intentionally even when you don’t know all the details. When we rush ahead and try to figure things out for ourselves we end up living in the very things we know are opposite of what God has for us:  

Fear 
Frustration
Failure  

You can live with purpose even when you can’t see the big picture or the tangible goal. Sometimes our tangible goals become such a focus of our lives that we entirely miss the real purpose — Jesus.   

How do we live with purpose in the silent seasons?  

Here is a list of “Still Do’s” and “Don’ts” to help get us started: 

  1. Still Seek God. When life isn’t panning out, we often subtly begin to seek our own way. We look for ways to succeed faster. We seek the approval and praise of others, but we quickly forget about the real foundation of everything in our lives. We will never discover our purpose in our own planning and goal setting. We will only discover our purpose when we passionately seek the One who is the purpose of all that we do.
      
  2. Still Look to God Continually. Stop looking at everyone else’s successes and failures. Yes, I know we can learn from others, but if we are constantly looking around us, we will never look above us. God’s purpose for your life is bigger than what you can see.
      
  3. Still do right. The world is full of short cuts. Everything we do is fast and getting faster. No longer do we have to wait for mail, meals, or money. We just click 2-day shipping, have our groceries delivered, and insert a card and out pops the money. It’s no surprise we want fast results from God, too. But God is much more powerful than these quick methods of output. When God is working His purpose in your life, it’s always beautiful in His time. While you wait, treat others with respect, obey your authorities, and make the right decisions even if it means being patient in your purpose.
      
  4. Still Study. Sometimes when we study something, we want to give out all we have learned right away. Maybe you write a blog post, teach a lesson to your children, or tell a trusted friend about all you are learning. But, there are seasons of study that will only be for you and God. At first thought it might be hard to understand why God would give you time to study just for the sake of you, but that’s who God is. He is a personal God who loves you and gives you exactly what you need when you need it. When we realize God is interested in specifically speaking to our hearts individually without the intention of a crowd or applause or attention, it’s a beautiful place to be. So study and see what God has specifically just for you. Your relationship with Him will deepen and you might find His purpose and plan for you within those simple moments of silence with the Savior.
      
  5. Don’t push ahead of God. Rushing forward without confirmation or direction from God can land us in a heap of self-inflicted drama. Take your time and pray. Pray that God would teach you in the in-between. There will be days when you want to push or pull or completely pass out. But God’s pace is always perfect even when we feel out of place.
      
  6. Don’t avoid stepping out in faith if you feel God nudging you that way. Sometimes when it’s not as clear as glass, we hesitate waiting for the atmosphere to be perfect and the situation to be ideal. Many times the things God calls us to requires a leap of faith. If you know God is directing you to do something, do it. Take a leap. Not a rushing, frantic leap, but a calm, confident leap. God knows your fear and He promises to comfort and care for you in those times. Faith is the foundation of purpose. 

Whatever it is that you are waiting to hear from God, know this: no matter how quiet He may be, He wants you closer to Him. So lean in close, take a deep breath, and stay with Him a while. Silence won’t last forever.  

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

Proverbs 19:21
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