I want to be aware of the path Jesus has worn to the front door of my soul, the place where my thoughts and emotions hang out. I'd like Him to feel at home in my soul-just put your feet up on the coffee table kind of at home, and don't worry if there are holes in your socks.
This is how He makes me feel at home. He's seen a lot worse than holes in my socks. He's seen holes in my life. He's pulled me out of holes as deep as wells that I've dug and then fallen into.
"Look up," He says.
"Which way is that?" Is there such a thing as spiritual vertigo?
I practice awareness of God's presence. I keep my eyes open for Him. I don't always see Him, but I do practice; and I'm finding that I see Him more often when I get out of the line of my own sight.
Funny thing, that. It may seem, by some, odd to walk by faith. What's odd, to me, isn't that I walk by faith because of hope, but that I'm prone to walk toward hope with no more than a smaller-than-a-mustard-seed faith. I've walked like this, and when I have, I've run into myself.
I want to run into God, not me.
There's this stereotype about women the likes of me. It's been circulating for I don't know how long, but I dare say it's true for me. I'm a confusing creature. God's ways are above my ways, but they're not confusing; at least, not to Him.
Bump into Him while trekking toward hope, and get a sound set of directions, like, "Look up," or "Go straight without turning to the left or the right," and "Keep your eyes on the prize."
I'm not the prize. So why do I follow my own directions to reach where I think God would have me go? That's as confusing as two different sets of directions given by two separate masters.
"Ah!" I remember what He says about serving two masters. It can't be done. Oh, I try to make it work. Most people do. It's just in us to want to be the "masters of our destinies" as the saying goes, yet it's also in Christ followers to want His directions, too.
I'm a slow learner. I still want two sets of directions, and what I really want is for God to consider my set of directions and say, "Hey! That's exactly what I was going to say! Turn right at the chalk rock formation, then turn right at the limestone hill, right again at the sand dune, and another right at the Red-Sapped Dragon's Blood Tree!" Not.
Maybe I forget that I don't value the getting there as much as God seems to. I'm like the kid in the back seat asking, "Are we there yet?" every five minutes.
Maybe the Israelites did that for forty years. Maybe they started out asking how much longer every five minutes for the first decade, then stretched the question out as years went by till they got there and then changed their question to something like, "Whoa there! How are we going to take the land You're giving us?"
Put that way, I scratch my head a little bewildered because I hear the absurdity of the question, yet I've asked the same thing myself.
"What's that about, Lord?" I think I already know. "Did they walk for forty years getting to the Jordan the long way 'round, just to run into themselves on the bank?"
He's silent. He lets me think.
I know what happened to that generation, and I don't want it to happen to me. I'd like to know which way is up. I'd like to walk toward a hope with my eyes on the One gives me faith.
I've written another book. As usual, I didn't start out to write one. It just happened. I've called it The Quilt. It'll be at Amazon soon, and I'll have it on my website, too. As for me? I'm standing on a river bank hanging out with God. He's led me here, and He's giving me directions. I confess, I've been confused here. I have. Yet, the longer I hang here, the more I get out of the line of my own vision. I'm seeing what He's got in His line of sight.
I've been forcefully set aside before. It's no fun. But some of my clearest moments have come from those times. I've seen that I'm not the prize! I've learned, the way of confinement, that I'm not the one my household revolves around! I marveled how the laundry got done when I was set aside. It seemed like a bona-fide miracle!
Same thing when the meals were made, and the dishes were washed, and there was peace in the home surpassed the peace I organized when I gave the marching orders.
Thing is, I was ordered to bed for a couple weeks. When I emerged one evening with the strength to lay on the couch, my children, so young at the time, where peacefully playing a board game. The washing machine hummed happily, and my husband was under no illusion that this peace was because of his outstanding homemaking skills. He knew why. He knew it was God's peace, achieved His way under His direction.
So, I keep this front of mind, now, waiting on the river bank after a good romp across the thousand, or so, generations I wrote about in The Quilt.
"So," the Lord says as He stirs the embers on the fire He likes to cook fish on. He did it for His disciples when they thought they had to make up their own next steps. They'd been casting nets for fish all night; and pulled them up empty.
I wonder if the empty nets, the unrequited efforts, matched how their spirits felt? Maybe they wondered, as they drew up empty, what was all that about? Tell me again why we dropped our nets and follow Jesus? And then the unavoidable, What do we do now?
He knows my wondering thoughts. He knows I'm wondering, What's this writing books thing all about? He hears me wonder aloud, "Why is there so little return?," and "What do I do now?"
It's not that I have nothing to do, now that The Quilt is written. The question that has me going in circles is, "What would You, Lord, have me do now?"
I'm sitting on my prayer stone in my backyard, asking these questions-again.
I'm going in circles, but I'm thinking that circles are necessary. I wish they weren't, but on this side of eternity there will be circular thinking and paths wide enough to do spirals on; and God knows this. He doesn't clap His hand over His mouth and say, "Oh dear! The path is too wide! My people are walking in circles; thinking in circles!" No. I suspect it's all part of the way He leads His people.
It could be that He values the jagged dizzy journey to the destination as the best way to get there. Time efficient? No. Confusion free? No.
"But wait!" I stop my thoughts. "I thought that God isn't the author of confusion; and if He's not, then I'm way off track, listening to enemy voices, when I get confused."
I've heard that reasoning so many times, but it's never made sense to me. Not really.
I may be wrong, but it seems to me that while God isn't the author of confusion, He wrote a book that's all about the straight and narrow way. Yeah, the Bible. He wrote it because He knew that this spinning world goes in circles and His people living on it will think in circles till dizzy enough to call out, "Stop this merry-go-round, I want off!"
That's a turning point.
That's a desperation known only by desperation.
Isn't it necessary to get a bit turned around in order to want to get straightened out? Aren't the difficulties the very obstacles that promote diligent search for the cleared way? Isn't the wide road filled with more diversions, distractions, temptations than a narrow road; yet isn't the narrow way found while asking God for directions?
I close my eyes and listen.
The Lord strums wide-open song across my heart strings. He did this yesterday morning, too. He strums now, as He did then, as a guitarist strums his instrument. I pray, again, that I might not press a finger on a fret; that I might not tie one string of my heart to a fret.
I long to hear the fret-free song He strums.
I have frets. Worries. And when I press the strings of my heart to a fretful worry, it's to the tune of anxiety, fear, confusion, and the like. Really, to the tune of oppression, (o-press-ion).
But this backyard morning I close my eyes and hear the songs sung by the birds that God watches. He watches them and says to me, "You are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:31).
"Look at the birds," He says.
I open my eyes. "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they?" (Matthew 6:26)
He's asking me. It's not necessary a rhetorical question. It's a question for me to answer; to comprehend a little bit more how He values me even as I dart about dizzy as a sparrow and exclaiming loud and rough as a raven's caw.
Bird and Ambulance
I sit still and close my eyes again.
"Even the youths shall faint and be weary," He begins.
I join Him, and we finish together as united in prayer, "And the young men shall utterly fall, bu those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:30-31).
"Well, Lord," I tilt my head up, eyes open to the wide sky way, "I'm not young, and I've never had the strength of a young man, but I do wait on You and all the more as every year goes by."
How the wind must thrum a-rush through the quills of an eagle's wings. Feathers, spread open to the wind, and quills lined up as the strings on a harpsichord from shortest to longest to shortest, they must release music into the sky that must inspire God to dance to till the train of His robe whips the universe into orbit.
The siren from an ambulance screams in the distance. "Oh, Lord!" The sound startles me from the heights where God dances in circles, to the pavement where people are thrown into circles; and red and blue lights rotate, dizzy, and hospital doors revolve and heart strings press, tight to the frets.
Birds sing. An ambulance shrills tension. I whisper, "Lord, hold me in Your lap as a guitarist cradles his instrument."
Is it right to pray so when an ambulance is racing down some street and I can hear it?
"Hold them, too, Lord." I pray. "Strum across their heart strings, and mine, as You strum the wind across the feathers of eagles with Your fingers."
The siren fades.
"Touch their hearts, and mine, like that; and may I press the strings of Your heart, rather than press the frets of mine?'
Sometimes I get too caught up in me, my life, my stuff to be caught up in Him, His life, His stuff. I'd like to be aware of His presence more.
written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig