I have always loved being outdoors. I spent my childhood playing in the yard daylight to dawn, drinking from the garden hose and frolicking in the woods with cousins. We rode bicycles for miles, made mud pies, caught the cutest, tiniest frogs and laughed hysterically when they peed on our little fingers. We chased the ice cream truck; we always had a puppy around and we truly loved one another.
Those hot summer days eventually turned into cool, summer nights and the stars lit up the sky like a million tiny sparkles lighting our paths. It never occurred to us to be afraid. We filled mason jars with lightning bugs and once there was room for no more, we would release them together. As we watched in wonder, the light of those bugs illuminated the darkness. It was in this moment of wonder that my heart always connected to the melodious sound of the crickets.
It was extraordinarily blissful.
Crickets create a relaxing melody you want to hear after a long, summer day toiling at work or at play. The sound represents the calming gentleness of a country night, where life proceeds at a much slower pace. The doors are unlocked and the porch light is always on. Friends are always welcome at dinner. This is a place I still call home today; where the gentle whisper of the Lord’s voice is carried on the wind. And if you listen for it, it can always be heard.
That faint song of the cricket is not, however, a sound you want to hear after pouring your heart into a message, a sermon or a song. No feedback, no response. A dead, empty sound where the enemy creeps in and tells you that chasing your God breathed, Word inspired dream of encouraging and loving His people is all for nothing. A cliché often used to describe deafening, unwelcome silence.
I still pause today to allow my heart to connect to the sound of singing crickets, for my ears to be serenaded by the joyful, soulful ballads they sing. I allow my soul and my spirit to be calmed by the innocence of those long ago days and one of the sweetest sounds of my youth.
Yet I still hear the voice of the enemy sometimes ringing louder than the still small voice of the Lord.
I know that I am not alone. Perhaps you too have poured yourself into others graciously and heard only the clichéd sound of crickets in return. You hear the awkward, deafening and overwhelming silence that threatens to consume your whole heart until you simply give up and give no more.
The enemy wins.
Some of the greatest writers have penned messages thought to change the world, only to hear silence in response. I am sure even my own Pastor has preached his heart and soul to a faceless, lifeless room. Some of the most beautiful voices in the world have belted out tunes thought to bring one to her knees in worship and wonder; and heard only crickets in their audience.
Perhaps you are discouraged in your own ministry, or maybe you are chasing a dream like a puppy chasing his tail. I encourage you to press forward and do not fall for this trick.
The enemy uses this deafening silence to shut us down.
All he is doing is intercepting the otherwise powerful feedback in order to halt your work for the Lord. He is afraid of you; he is afraid of me.
He fights unfair in order to confuse and manipulate you because HE CANNOT WIN.
He has already been defeated.
I hear crickets sometimes. I hear them loud and clear when I want more than anything to receive feedback, both positive and constructive critique. When I do, I allow my mind and my heart to reconnect my today with my yesterday. Back to a time where my spirit was unafraid, my heart was pure and my faith was childlike and innocent. Back when I pursued the goodness of God and all the extraordinary benefits of being His child and I didn’t even know I was doing so. It was the only natural reaction to the unnatural actions and sinful nature of this world.
Discouragement is inevitable when we set our sights high in our lives – whether dreaming big, serving well, loving out loud; especially when we see no tangible fruit from our tireless works. The flesh part of our souls wants an acknowledgement that our voice has been heard and our touch has been felt, but we must know that we can’t accomplish anything on our own, rather everything when we make use of the Lord’s glorious and magnificent power.
And when you feel powerless, this is my prayer for you,
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit, or a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
Just because we do not see the fruit on the vine, doesn’t mean the vine isn’t healthy and growing splendidly. Sometimes the roots are deep, healthy and thriving.
Remember, that God does not plant a dream in your heart and just leave it there unattended and uncared for. But we must also do our part in cultivating the dream and seeing it through to its fruit bearing stage. We must water it in prayer, nurture it in discipline and obedience and persevere in His mighty power.
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.
Do what your heart desires. Chase your dream even if a thousand other people are dreaming the same dream. One person cannot reach seven billion others; it will take a few of us doing the same job.
As for me, when I am discouraged, I remember I do not write for everybody.
I write for somebody.