It is in the writing and the reading, the leaning in and the listening, that the mysteries are solved. It is the desire to hear the still small voice that requires the stripping away of everything, the complexities, the distractions, and the things that demand more than you thought you had to give. I find it in the morning and though the weight of my head on the pillow bids me stay, I press through. I lift my head and rise.
Bleary eyed, I swing my feet to the floor, silencing my alarm, out to the lounge room, I switch on the lamp, light the gas heater, turn on the kettle, find a pen as the kettle boils. I pour my tea; I swap last night’s empty glass of red for this morning’s black tea. As I write, it cools and within 20 – 30 minutes I am closer to the unravelling of my destiny.
“He who has ears to hear, let him be listening and let him consider and perceive and comprehend by hearing.” John 11:15
So this is how I find my way, I read and I write. I pray and I listen. In Hebrews 3: 14 – 15 it says “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Sometimes the voice of God isn’t saying what we want to hear and that is when our heart hardens. We wanted things to be different in so many ways and the voice is confusing at first because it is unexpected. We thought it would be easier than this.
We prayed all the right prayers. You know the ones? They start with “Use me, Lord” and end in “anything, everything, take my all.” Then we sing aloud in corporate assemblies, with our arms lifted and the band playing it feels so righteous, “All I need is you, Lord” and it is… until Monday comes and you realize that He is all you have. Suddenly it’s not as enticing as it was on Sunday with the slaps on the back and the message from the front.
Suddenly it is just you and your grief, shivering in a cold lounge room trying to make sense of your life. The raw reality of sickness and the endless juggle of work, family, and all the little things you need to do and you are baffled as to how you manage your life.
You just take steps. You just keep writing. On Monday the pages are filled with questions. All the things you don’t get but every writer knows that this is just the first draft and its necessary. You are just getting things down, making the pen move, seeking out the story that one day will unfold like a manuscript. No one is going to read these pages, not even you. Its just lines on a page leading you away from where you used to live, from what you used to think was the only way how.
You tug a little at the dead skin of your life. You feel nothing. It isn’t part of you anymore and there is strange comfort in the tearing away. It reminds you of school when you covered your hands in ‘aquadhere,’ just for the sheer pleasure of peeling. When you get a big bit that comes off in one go, it is ultimate success. It is like that now with your life. It’s a transparent layer that’s hardly discernable to the onlooker but to you it’s a tight pull, shrink-wrapping your soul.
So much is dead, you don’t mind what else God takes. You let Him strip you of the attitudes and the disappointments; you want your life to be fully His. Then you discover that the piece He is pulling on is joined to a pink fleshy bit that is pumping with life. You feel the sting. That bit hasn’t died. And you cry and you put on a ‘Band-Aid.’ You apply pressure and you remind Him there is still a long way to go.
It is somewhat disappointing how long it takes for Christ’s character to be formed in you. You keep taking your life back to the altar. You think there is nothing left. You ask for direction from Heaven. It comes. It sprinkles down like manna, just enough for that day and with the sustenance it brings, you walk, one step at a time. Day-by-day, step-by-step your confidence grows. Just as the scriptures said it would.
“Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.” Hebrews 10:35 (Amplified Bible)
You cannot let go of your confidence in Him. He is really all you have but He is enough. The journey He takes you on is better than you would have imagined. To look back at your old life and desire it is futile now. Birds have devoured the trail of breadcrumbs. There is no path back, he is leading you forward, and if you turn back you know all you will be is a statue of salt. So you don’t look over your shoulder anymore. You don’t crave what you had. You even feel strangely thankful for all that you have been through. It makes no sense but you know that somehow you are better for the journey.
Instead of going back to the crumbs you dropped in the dark forest you see the light in the window of a cottage ahead. You could never have known that this too would be full of challenge, that there is a witch inside, who wants to feed you up and devour you. Yet here you discover that you have become a strategist who knows how to apply wisdom to save yourself. Your life, in this season is all about survival and your dreams seem completely unattainable, visible only in your imagination. You are not even sure if the things you dreamed of all your life are the same things you want anymore.
Maybe the dreams of the past are castles you have built in the air. Like Thoreau wrote ‘your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.’
But maybe the dream has changed, maybe its time to let go. Like a helium balloon that does not have the capacity to carry your weight, you unravel the string from around your arm and watch it float up, up, up, until it is just a tiny dot on the massive expanse of sky. It has gone and in time it will not even be a memory.
Maybe in the letting go of the helium balloon, God has a hot air balloon to replace it. Maybe He prepares something else, something far better. Even though in this moment you feel completely earthbound, going through the motions, the hospital visits, the blood tests, the phoning through for results, the arriving early to work, the taking down of tiny chairs, the cleaning of tables with gumption, the opening of the door with a smile. Maybe nothing seems significant now but God is in the day by day. You put your trust in Him.
You look forward because there is no sense in looking back. Like it says in Isaiah 28:20 “the bed is too short for a man to stretch himself on and the covering too narrow for him to wrap himself in.” The old methods don’t work anymore. The season of sowing has changed you and God has something new. Isaiah 28: 26 says, “For his God instructs him correctly and teaches him.” Somehow it is all going to be okay. You find yourself striving less and just kind of evolving. “The transition is barely discernable from the outside. From the inside it feels like there is just more of God and less of you. Your craving for God increases as you seem to decrease.” (Janet Hagberg)
But maybe like that helium balloon, you too are just a dot floating away. It doesn’t matter anymore. You have learned that there is not much sense in planning too far ahead. God will have His way. You identify with the scripture that says, “Come now, you who say, today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and carry on our business and make money. Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that [thing].” James 4:13-15 (Amplified Bible)
You experience the incredible lightness of being when you discover that your life is in His hands. You let His fire ignite inside you, you lift, you float and His voice brings new perspective. By Friday, you have seen His face on the pages of the mornings. The draft of Monday is forgotten, you have moved on and there is fresh clarity. Fair faced Monday has grown wise, you’ve passed through the woes of Wednesday and now you are Friday’s child, all loving and giving – just like the rhyme. It doesn’t matter what you have to give up if it means you can float with God in the atmosphere of heaven. You drop the weight that so easily entangles you. All you are left with are the non-negotiables, perhaps in another week you will erase those as well but for today it is almost complete. You decide that the view is magnificent from here.