Am I Hearing You Right?

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While there are birds, birds to fly…

I heard that Mother Teresa said “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.”

I’m no Mother Teresa, and I already know that God will give me things I can’t handle. I also know that he gives me things that He can handle if I learn to do only what He asks and let Him do the heavy lifting. (“Will You Be My Alligator” link here.) But sometimes I wonder…

I didn’t feel like driving to Alberta again yesterday when I have so much to do at home. But the Lover of my soul knew I needed a break, so I ended up going. I spent the time in the car talking to God, pouring out my feelings to Jesus, and sitting quietly with Holy Spirit. I have evidence of transformation in my life because I have much more peace than I used to when my list of concerns to pray about gets longer and longer. But still I wonder if I could have done things differently (or sooner), if I said something I ought not to have said (or failed to say), if I am following the right path or if I have missed some crucial heavenly download somewhere. Am I doing this right?

Change is messy, I know, but it looks like I may have to exchange my rubber boots for hip waders soon. I cried out, “Lord! I really need to hear your voice about now! Just talk to me! What should I do?!” (I may have raised my voice.)

I was listening to music on my phone as I drove. (Gotta love a car with a USB port.) Road conditions demanded my attention so I left it on shuffle. The songs played in random order. Most of the music on my phone is a peaceful worshipful style aimed at reducing stress in city traffic. My other more eclectic collections are on a road trip sticks or CDs.

A song came on just as I asked my question. I tell you the truth. I do not recall ever hearing this song before or downloading on my phone. It was in a large, but inexpensive collection of classic jazz tunes I bought a few months ago, but I had only listened to a few familiar favourite  songs.

This is what I heard: Trust in Me.

Who says the Lord can’t speak through the voice of a woman of color?

I think I have a new favourite.

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“While there’s a moon, a moon up high…”

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As Song

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I wouldn’t have done it that way. It looked like a disaster. Facts and figures and previous experience all added up to a negative number.

Then I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking in the night. “This one is like a Chinese finger puzzle. The more you fight and try to free yourself from circumstances, the tighter they will get.

I trusted him. He took me through a tough, tough time and answered in a miraculous way mere logic could never duplicate.

Resting in God when everything around me says, “you need to do something!!” brings back memories of growing up in a house with parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles who seldom agreed and who all gave me different instructions. No matter what I did someone would be mad. Which voice did I choose to listen to?

Now here I am again. So many angry voices. So many urgent opinions. So much distracting pain. So many dire consequences marching across the screen of unsanctified imagination.

Oh God, what should I do? What should I do?

Remember the source of your strength. Remember my promise to never leave you. Be thankful. Rest.

The Eternal is the source of my strength and the shield that guards me.
When I learn to rest and truly trust Him,
He sends His help. This is why my heart is singing!
I open my mouth to praise Him, and thankfulness rises as song.

(Psalm 28:7 The Voice)

 

 

Trickle Down Word

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“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.

It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

    You will live in joy and peace.
    The mountains and hills will burst into song,
    and the trees of the field will clap their hands!”

(Isaiah 55:8-12 NLT)

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Where You’ve Not Been Before

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I hate feeling incompetent. I enjoy being asked questions when I know the answer. Memories of first day on the job stress when I knew less than the customers or the students still get shoved back in the closet as soon as they make a peep.

As much as I enjoy new things and find routine stifling there are times when I enjoy feeling like I know what I’m doing and that I can handle this. I can coast. I can offer free advice. Dare I say it? Sometimes, in my Walter Mitty-type imagination I picture the Networks calling to ask me to come into the studio as their talking head expert of the day.

Mid dream sequence the music screeches to a stop. God asks me to follow him.

“Where?” I ask.

“You’ll see.”

“But I finally know what I’m doing here. I have a system.”

“I know. Let’s do something else now.”

I wish I was faster at saying yes. I’m learning that growth only comes as I depend on God and quit relying on what worked before. I have a bad habit of not noticing that change lies ahead until I run into a dead-end or get kicked out of the nest. Sometimes asking God for guidance and yet not moving until the yank of a bridle twists my neck or a stick pokes my butt and the guidance is no longer subtle is not the most comfortable way.

Part of the problem is still my fear of making a mistake, of being wrong, of having to backtrack, or worse, make an apology. But grace gives us latitude to learn. Somewhere deep down I am still fighting the notion that I have to earn this grace with a perfect performance. That’s when failure becomes freedom. His love is not conditional. I never knew how much God loved me until I offered him my incompetence as an ego-sacrificing form of praise.

He says his eyes will be our guide. We can respond more quickly when our eyes are focused on his face. If we are more focused on our work and personal improvement projects than on where he is looking we will miss it.

Stay close. Listen. Watch. Trust.

This is going to be good.

I hear the Lord saying, “I will stay close to you,
Instructing and guiding you
Along the pathway for your life.
I will advise you along the way,
And lead you forth with my eyes as your guide.
So don’t make it difficult, don’t be stubborn
When I take you where you’ve not been before.
Don’t make me tug you and pull you along.
Just come with me!”

(Psalm 32:8 – 9 TPT)

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Exuberant

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Our daughter needed to study calculus as part of her bachelor degree requirements. She liked math and was good at it so she happily signed up for the course. The problem was that the only class that fit into her timetable was the class her father taught. She had hoped to avoid that scenario, still being a teen and all.

One day she needed to ask a question about something she didn’t understand. Her father carefully explained the concept covering two blackboards with figures and diagrams, then turned and asked her if she understood.

“What? Oh…” she said looking up from the page she had been doodling on. “Um, sorry. I heard you go into your lecturing voice and I tuned you out.”

The students who didn’t know about their relationship gasped in shock. Those that knew the prof was her dad laughed.

This story came back to me today as I was thinking about relating to the many facets of God. Our daughter was relating to the man at the front of the class as the dad who had been responsible for setting limits through some chaotic years. In that moment she wasn’t relating to him as a valuable teacher and missed what he had to offer. (All was not lost. That was the year she gained respect for his skills and actually changed direction to become a math education major herself.)

Many metaphors describe the way God wants to relate to us; He presents himself as creator, king, father, bridegroom, shepherd, healer, provider, lamb, mother, brother, law-giver, judge, protector and many more. Someone once asked me, “Who does God want to be for you now?”

I didn’t understand the question at the time. God is God. Holy Other. Unchanging. There is no one like him.  What do you mean?

Since then I have come to know God as my loving heavenly father, Jesus as a brother and the Holy Spirit as a comforter. I’ve known him as a teacher and healer and encourager and even as an intimate friend who shares confidences. What I am still learning is how to be flexible when he wants to show me another aspect of himself.

Lately I have been spending time praying about some heavy matters brought to my attention. I feel privileged to be trusted, and I do remember praying “break my heart with what breaks yours,” but I’ve been feeling the weight of it lately. I know the joy of the Lord is my strength but I must have set it down somewhere and I’m having trouble remembering where I put it. Before I fell asleep I asked for an understanding of joy, because I don’t know how to make myself feel something I don’t feel.

It snowed last night. When I looked out my window this morning I saw the berries on the mountain ash tree covered with little tipped white piles of snow that looked like gnome hats. I ran out in my robe and slippers and took a photo, not caring what the neighbours digging out their vehicles thought. The mountain ash hats just looked silly. They reminded me of little red Smurfs. I smiled.

“There it is,” he said.

“There is what?”

“Joy. My joy. It’s been here all along. You just weren’t expecting it or looking for it.”

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I need to shift my thinking and learn to relate to God as someone who has tremendous joy in spite of seeing selfish people misuse their authority and abuse the vulnerable. He knows how all this ends, and it ends well.

I remembered a passage of scripture that talks about Jesus being exuberant and full of joy because of his Father’s plans. This scene happened after he commissioned 70 people to go out ahead of him and declare the kingdom of God by healing the sick and casting out demons.

The seventy came back triumphant. “Master, even the demons danced to your tune!”

Jesus said, “I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”

At that, Jesus rejoiced, exuberant in the Holy Spirit. “I thank you, Father, Master of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the know-it-alls and showed them to these innocent newcomers. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.

“I’ve been given it all by my Father! Only the Father knows who the Son is and only the Son knows who the Father is. The Son can introduce the Father to anyone he wants to.”

(Luke 10 :17-22 The Message)

I put on my warm clothes and high boots and went out into the dazzling light of the day, plowing through white powder nearly up to my knees. I listened to the distant birds, and the babbling brook. I stood under showers of tiny diamonds as the snow crystals fell from high branches in the sunlight. Today I am learning who God wants to be for me now. Jesus is introducing me to a happy Creator – my strength and my joy.

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