Monday, June 11, 2012

The Gift of His Voice

Robert had to leave extra early this morning for a meeting with regional pastors and church-planters.  We usually run together on Monday mornings, but today I went alone, and I went long.  Longer than our usual six miles, because it was a longer than usual weekend, filled with the pain of perceived betrayal, and the exhaustion of emotion and grief.  

We've been running a new route lately, too, and we're hooked on its natural beauty.  It takes us through a swampy conservation area {on a paved trail}, and almost always includes a surprise.  Last week it was snakes and turtles and rabbits.  Today it was a deer literally blocking the trail, and then later the surprising beauty of water lilies ~ lots of them beginning to bloom on the surface of the sprawling ponds.  I tried to pray, and it usually happens easily while running, but not today.  Today was prayer interspersed with all-consuming thoughts, back to prayer, back to overwhelming confusion and erratic wonderings, back to prayer.  Finally, when home was in sight, I just threw up a desperate plea to know the Lord better through all of this, to be able to hear Him in all of this, to grow closer to Him because of all of this
 Back home, I headed up to my room to spend a little more time with the Lord. I read the next chapter in Luke, because I've been reading through the Gospels.  I read the book of Titus, because that's what we're studying in small group.  I even pulled out The Message, and read its version of Titus. {Don't tell Josh or Greg. ☺}  Then I started to try and pray about things again.

I've never really heard an audible word from God, but the next thing that happened has taken place several times in my life. I couldn't pray, because this idea, this thought, this prompt kept coming into my mind:  
I want you to keep reading.

I prayed and asked, What do you want me to read?

Psalms, was the "heard-in-my-mind" reply.

Which Psalm, Lord?  I asked again.

93 was the first thing that came to my mind.

I turned to Psalm 93 with quite a bit of anticipation, and began to read.  I was nearly finished with its hopeful words when I noticed that I had made a notation in my Bible's margin next to this Psalm.  I rotated the Bible to read what it said, and the tears began flowing as I realized that this was the Psalm I had read last summer when this same unsettling circumstance had started. {I was reading through the Palms in order and this was the one for that day.} I had written the date and where I was at the time, and also had written the name of someone dear to me, since I knew that the Lord was using His word to reassure me that He was in control of a heart-breaking situation with them. Seeing the date prompted me to go and find the journal I had been using at the time.  Sure enough, there was an entry for that day. I happened to be in Maine at the time, up early, and sitting next to the wood stove in our vacation cabin while my family slept.  There had been a storm the night before, but it was so quiet and calm sitting there that morning.  I knew He was speaking to me so clearly {floods and waves and breakers and waters? How much more clear could He be?}, so I copied the Psalm in my journal, and began to write out my prayer...
Lord, you have so firmly established the world ~ unmoving ~ that you would have me be instructed and comforted by this Psalm today. Today,  on this morning after the strong winds and rain over the cove and ocean all night.  Today when the sounds of her choices feel like unending mighty breakers in my mind and I can't easily let it all go ~ or trust you with all of it.  But you are high and mighty and clothed with strength.  You can perfectly reveal yourself to her and protect her and give her wisdom and strengthen her, and you can calm my heart and mind ~ you can humble me and temper my passions regarding the situation.

And do humble me, Lord ... sort of a scary prayer, but I do want my prophecy/teaching/discerning/correcting tendencies {gifts from you} to be perfectly tempered, balanced with an awareness of my own sin and equal need for grace.  Please let my motive in confronting and questioning be love and a desire for her to know Truth and its protective principles.

I confess my own selfishness and desire for her to be a close friend and to think me wise.  I want her to think of me as godly and desire that we be each other's confidant and kindred spirit.

I confess pride and judgment.  I confess anger and any disdain.  Please cleanse me, Lord, and the next time we talk may my tone and words be in true love and humility ~ only words from you.  May she not be blinded or deceived by emotion.   May her eyes and heart be receptive to truth and wisdom. Amen.

After re-reading the Psalm and my prayer from a year ago, I was completely overwhelmed by this morning's sweet, gentle, reassurance and leading from the Lord.  He had spoken to me.  He had interrupted my prayer to speak to me.  And it's an answered prayer, too, because so often I say to Him, I'm sorry I talk so much.  I want to listen.  I want to hear you speak.  Well, He spoke, and obviously so.  There was no mistaking His voice this morning.  And there was no mustering up of the ability to listen on my part.  He just spoke.

After I thanked Him through tears for all of this ~ especially the reassurance that this heart-wrenching situation is being fully presided over by Him, He urged me to keep reading.  So I moved on to Psalm 94.

He who planted the ear, does He not hear?
He who formed the eye, does He not see?
He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke?
Even He who teaches man knowledge?
The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are mere breath.
Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O Lord, and whom You teach out of Your law.
That You may grant him relief from the days of adversity, until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the Lord will not abandon His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance...
...If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence.
If I should say "My foot has slipped," Your lovingkindness, O Lord will hold me up.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.
Can a throne of destruction be allied with You?
One which devises mischief by decree?
They band themselves together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has been my stronghold, and my God, the rock of my refuge...
Psalm 94: 9-22

His consolations do delight my soul.  Actually, He is my consolation, my stronghold, my rock, and refuge in the pain and grief and confusion.  And He doesn't have to do any more than He already did, which was rescue me from sin and death, and yet He does.  He reassures.  He gives hope. He speaks.

It's an incredible gift of grace.

And P.S. ~  The Joy Dare prompt for Saturday was "Gifts that really made you smile."  I REALLY didn't think there were going to be any.  It was a dark day for us, filled with tears of confusion and pain.  But grilled burgers and sweet potato tater tots { ! }were on the menu for dinner, so Robert worked magic on the grill, the kids set the picnic table in the backyard, and we thoroughly enjoyed the perfect weather and absolutely delicious burgers.  Then Kayla ran in the house and returned with The Game of Things. {Thank you, Graf family!}  We played a few rounds there at the picnic table and talked NBA basketball interspersed amongst turns. I ended up being to fill in the gift of a real smile three times over:

1. Cooper and Kory impersonating NBA hot shots after making 3-pointers. {we rolled!}
2. Kayla recounting the inappropriate Father's day cards she had found at Wal-Mart that day {involving the passing of gas. more rolling}
3. "Things You Would Do If You Were a Giant:" 1.) Save Lilliput. 2.)  Run around with my head in the clouds. 3.) Paint the house. 4.) Say Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum a lot and last, but definitely not least... 5.) Fight Manny Pacquiao.

Lots of real smiles.  Lots of laughs.  Such grace gifts.


Cinnamon said...

That was beautiful. All of it. Your heart. God speaking to you. Reading Psalm 93. I can relate to talking too much to hear what God has to say to me. I have begun, once again, to limit my talk in order to hear.

God always blesses me when I take time for Him. He speaks so clearly. So amazingly precise. I love it!

Thank you for sharing your heart here. Praying for you tonight.


Melanie said...

Cinnamon ~ thank you so much. He is so good to us.