Listening to the Whisper

I love sharing The Big God Story with children.  I relish the opportunity when I get to help children learn of God’s love and His plan that He is continuing to work out.  I love helping children understand something they’ve maybe always known, but now see it in a new way.  Or take a concept and explore it deeper with them.

Kids kind of get that “a-ha” moment, just a slight shift in focus when things become clearer.  Then sometimes, as I’m preparing a lesson, the Holy Spirit is teaching me something in a fresh new way.

Recently I was getting ready to share about the prophet Elijah.  I honestly don’t remember learning of him as a child.  I think the church I grew up in was Old Testament poor.  I have since learned about Elijah and have often been with preschoolers when share about him.  We usually focus on the offering the prophets of Baal placed out.  They danced and chanted and prayed, but no god showed up.

Then Elijah offered up a sacrifice, first drenching all of it in water to prove a point.  After praying to the one true God “The fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.” (1 Kings 18:38)  Boom.  That fast.  God sure can act quick.

This lesson didn’t stop there though.  It continued on with Elijah having to escape for his life.  After killing the prophets of Baal, well, Baal wanted Elijah dead.  So he ran and hid on Mt Horeb.  This is the part I love.  This is what I needed to hear that day when I was with the kids.  Granted, I had read the lesson through several times and made all of my preparations.  But it’s so different being on our little stage in front of kids and presenting it to them.  It affected me differently.  God affected me differently.

You see, when Elijah was hiding on Mt Horeb, he was tired and lonely.  He had done all that God asked of him, yet here he was in a dark cave all alone. God showed himself in a great wind, in splitting rocks of an earthquake, and fire that came around the mountain in a huge display.  Lots of chaos was around Elijah.

But God was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire; He was in a still, small whisper that gently blew across Elijah.

This is where I’ve found myself lately.  I feel like I’m in the dark on Mt Horeb, crying out, “God, I’m lonely and feel lost.  I’m trying to do what you’ve called me to do, yet here I am”.  There’s so much around me, but God isn’t in the activities and the stuff consuming my day and kaleidoscoping around me.  He’s there in the whisper.  The soft still voice.

“Nancy, I AM.  I AM here, I AM with you, I AM working all of this out according to my perfect plan, I AM holding you in this, I AM who I AM and you are going to be fine.  So be still, hear my whisper, hear my voice, and know that I AM God.”

A-ha.  You’ve got me again.   I’m sitting still and listening to the whisper.

mountain-whispers


Originally posted on Truministry

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A Prayer

This is a prayer I offered on behalf of our congregation this past week. Several have requested a copy, so I’m sharing here. A portion is rephrased from another prayer. I pray that it blesses you this week.


 

Lord,

We come before you concerned, weary and worn from all that is going on in this world as well as with what has happened in this country over the past week. Lord, we thank you for your presence in all that has happened and in all that will happen.

Help us to be a people that follow hard after you. Help us be a people that love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with you. Help us to remember, above any current divisions, that God you reign supreme no matter who is in control of our country.

Lord, help us to remember you are a God who is above all flags and above all men.

You are a God who is for your people.

You are a gracious God who created men and women in YOUR image.

Let us put our trust in you, Jesus, as you were born into an occupied and oppressed people group, you were a man who entered this world at the bottom of the food chain and stayed there your whole life.

Jesus, you walked as a man whose policy was that when it comes to your own rights you “turn the other cheek” but when it comes to the disinherited you listen, you mourn, you act, and you boldly protest for change.

You were a man who gave to the hungry and the thirsty without hesitation, a man who welcomed in all strangers without concern, a man who clothed the naked, looked after the sick and cared for those who thought they had no value.

Today, let us remember that we still follow you, Jesus, and that you spoke truth to the powers that be yet gave everything away till you had nothing left and you desire us to do the same.

Lord, help us to stand for your truth, to listen to each other, and bring glory to God throughout all the generations now and those that are to come.

Amen

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Today, I Started Swimming

Not literally.

I didn’t go do a polar plunge or swim laps in a pool.

I started swimming towards the shore of a vision I’ve had for a few years.

I just did a quick search for the meaning of vision, in hopes to put a put a bit of context to my swimming adventure. A vision can be a thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination. It can also be something sensed, that’s immaterial or intangible. Super clear, right? Follow along here for a minute…

So I’ve had this vision for a few years that there is a dark sky and deep waters in front of me. I know I have to go into the water that’s choppy, like a storm is close. I can’t see an end. It feels like an endless ocean with a strong undercurrent swirling just below me. I have this deep knowing that the waters won’t overcome me; I won’t be lost in them and the undercurrent won’t consume me. Yet when it’s dark, kind of scary, an undercurrent tugging at me and there’s no end in sight, well, why would I want to go in?

For a couple years now I’ve seen it. I’ve resisted it. It just feels yucky. But I’ve known I needed to understand it. And I’ve known I needed to go in the water.

Last spring I met with a Spiritual Director. That’s a person that can help you listen deeper and discern answers as you seek to grow in your spiritual life. It was pretty amazing. I told her about the dark ocean-like vision I’ve had. I also told her about other visions I’ve had about my path. That’s a long story in itself, but God revealed a wide path that continued on for my life. He showed me a winding path that was entering some mountains. There would be hard moments, but I also had a deep reassurance that my path continued for a long journey.

As I shared this, she asked a few simple questions of the ocean vision. “Is there a boat around? Or a life jacket? Maybe a dock to rest on? I would like to see a place for you to find rest.” Things changed dramatically after she asked this.

There wasn’t a dock, but there was another side. Some of the darkness began to clear up. This was a lake. A big one, but it was still a lake. There was another side! I could still feel the undercurrent yet felt that same sensation of knowing the undercurrent wouldn’t consume me.

We began to explore the undercurrent a bit more. It was kind of like leaning into fears that aren’t so scary when you turn on the light. I realized the undercurrent was the regular demands on my life that will always be there. Being a mom to teenagers and doing it alone; routines of laundry and dishes and housework that must be done; paying bills and balancing a budget; finding places to fit in running and fitness; making time for friends and crazy adventures. The list, the undercurrent, could go on. Those things are in my life and will be, but God is calling me to more.

Let’s explore that then. What is the more? Why am I being called into the water?

Oh.

An answer came that quick. And the skies got a bit brighter.

It’s the writing, speaking, encouraging, equipping, motivating, pastoring others. It’s the blog and books and conferences. It’s pointing others to know Him. He’s calling me to do His work. And some of this work is life-long for me, but there is some hard work that must be done now. It has to be done in the deep. With Him.

I visualized myself standing on the shore. I looked at Father God. I could sense what was waiting for me on the other side of the shore. Something I’ve been praying about for a long time. I didn’t really want to get in the water though. I told him I could swim, but I’m not that great. I kinda wanted to take the path that I could see going around the lake.

“Stop dancing on the shore. I have called you. I have equipped you. I am the one growing you. I am the one perfecting you. I have not called you to walk on the path around the lake like I have others, so stop going that way. Quite dancing on the shore and get in the water. Let’s go.”

Yep. Pretty clear words.

Recently I realized I’ve been dipping my toes in the water. I’ve waded in a bit. I was sort of treading water part way in. Getting comfortable with that undercurrent tickling my toes. Seeing what was on the other side of the shore.

Today, something in the sermon at church changed my focus. Sharpened it a bit. And the reminder came to me. I’m called. I’m equipped. It’s all here, with His help. I can do the hard work. Now. Now is the time to do the hard work.

So I started swimming.

swimming

I stopped treading water in place and started swimming.

The more you practice at anything, the better you get. While I feel like I’m not a great swimmer now, I know I’m capable of the hard work and will improve. I’m reminding myself I can do hard things. I can survive the undercurrent. Maybe I can even create my own current. With His help.

Today, I started swimming.

Not just to swim or avoid the undercurrent or even just to say I got off the shore. I started swimming to be obedient to Him, to follow Him, to get to the other side and continue on the path ahead of me.

I’m sure there will be hard days ahead. I know it’s just for a season, until I reach the other side of the shore. I know I’ll get there. And I already know I won’t be worn out like a sea tossed castaway. No, I’ll get out of the water, get that hug, and start down the next part of the path.

I can do hard things. And so can you. Where has He called you to go? Are you dancing on the shore too? Or today, are you ready to start swimming?! Let’s go!