“Thank you for the quiet. Thank you for the quiet. Thank you for the quiet.”
I’m a sorority mom, it’s the week of recruitment, and there’s more chanting // yelling // shouting // screaming here than I’ve ever heard at a pro-sports game or pre-school. I don’t know if you can fully imagine just how loud hundreds of teenagers are until your bedroom walls physically shake from their reverberations. IT’S LOUD. And in the blissful maybe three minutes total today that they weren’t hollering, I caught myself praising God for the silence. It felt so good.
Rarely have I thanked God for the silences. But when everything is busy and bustling and overwhelming, peace is sweet. The opposite seems to also be true, at least for me, that when things have been too quiet for too long, nothing is sweeter than hearing another voice. And most of all, it’s the sweetest when it’s His voice that rings through after a season of too much silence.
I wouldn’t say I’m much for checklisted New Year’s Resolution writing, but I’m a big fan of paying attention, living intentionally, and building altars. January 1st or the middle of March, anytime can be the time to lean in to what the Holy Spirit has to say and start shifting your life accordingly.
This week your Hopers are going to be offering you the words that the Lord has laid on their hearts for you, and that could mean a myriad of different things. While the world trumpets this season as one for starting over, or just starting – period, what does God have for our hearts? Well, we Hopers tried to really pay attention to what He wanted to say to YOU.
Let me start with this…
I don’t know if you’ve ever been intimate with someone, and I don’t mean sex. I mean a closeness of knowing and being known – comfortability that transcends any of your other earthly relationships. It’s one of the things I miss most about being deep in true love. As I was thinking about writing to you, dear reader, I thought back to those moments of bigness or smallness when I was with the man I loved more than any other, and was loved by more than any other, and one of us would just lay down, get eye-to-eye, and ((as silly as it might sound)) just say “Hi.”
To us, what it meant was – “I see you.”
It meant, “We don’t have to have a deep conversation, but the sacred space of safety for just us is here and it’s now and it’s being offered and if we wanted to or needed to say the big or small or scary or secretive things, we could.”
That “Hi” was a way of disrupting the regular noise and catch the other’s attention in a way that no one else would, could, or needed to.
It was also a way we pressed pause in a fight to dissolve tension. As the words flew and volumes went up another notch and then another notch and walls were being built, that “Hi” was the most gentle of ways to say – “I see you. The real you, the you I love and don’t really want to fight with.” To keep the fire from growing. To start over.
I hadn’t, well, I hadn’t let myself think about those moments eye-to-eye where one or the other of us whispered “Hi” in the quiet or the loud… in a long time. And yesterday morning as it played in my mind on the tiny movie-screen God put behind our eyelids, I started crying.
But it was the only way I could really think of that I wanted to start this conversation with you today.
…I don’t know how loud or quiet your life is. I don’t know how safely and solidly our words land in your heart when you sit down to read through Hope is Hard. And what I wish is that I could get eye-to-eye with you as we both take a deep breath, whatever big or small season we find ourselves in as the New Year begins, and just start with a “Hi.”
And then we could talk whenever we were ready, just enjoying the comfort of silence as long as we needed to.
So, will you be a bit imaginative with me?
Let the real or figurative bustle of loud distractions inundating your mind and heart and soul and season settle for a moment as we both breathe deeply…
I see you buddy.
We’re both so very desperate to hear the Lord’s voice, aren’t we? To know undeniably which voice is His for sure through all the chaos and clutter and other voices that vie to distract us. When He’s been too quiet for too long, it hurts.
Yea, I get it.
Surely He has something to say to us so, what is it exactly? Why make plans or “resolutions” if we aren’t sure they’re His priorities? What does He want for us?
Can I challenge you a bit? ((Cause I’m gonna…))
HE WANTS US TO START RESPONDING.
You already hear His voice. You’ve heard it. More than likely He’s asked you to do something that felt weird or unwarranted so you brushed it off like you might finger-kick a tiny two-inch Jiminy Cricket trying to tell you what to do. But friend, God is much bigger than a Disney-appointed cartoon conscience, He is your very lifeblood. He’s both your maker and the purpose-giver for why you were made.
He is allowed to ask of us whatever He wants, and the world and the devil, are trying to deafen us to His counter-cultural desires, demands and instruction.
I started responding a few years ago. AND WHOA.
Now I want it for you so badly there’s an almost physical squeeze in my chest while typing.
When God would lay the name of a friend or co-worker or ((gasp!)) stranger on my brain, instead of shaking it off or ignoring it, I started reaching out to those people. It’s rarely been hard to think of what to say: “Hey, God brought you to mind and I wanted to see how you’re doing… so, how are you doing? Anything I can pray for?”
Friend, I KNOW it will feel weird. BUT I PROMISE YOU THIS:
When you start responding in obedience to God’s voice, it get’s clearer.
When you start responding in obedience to God’s voice, it blesses others and it blesses you.
When you start responding in obedience to God’s voice, you won’t want to stop.
I reached out to a woman I hadn’t seen in at least a year and I don’t know if I’d ever texted her ever, and her response? “I just had a miscarriage this morning. No one knows. I can’t believe you reached out just now… yes, please pray for ________.”
I reached out to a pal who I talk to enough to know mostly everything about her, including her daily schedule, but something wouldn’t budge in my spirit, so I asked anyway… and her response? “I didn’t tell you I was going to the doctor today, did I? I don’t think I did… anyway, I didn’t realize I’d have to go back to the same hospital where my mom died and I haven’t been back since then and it’s making me sick and overwhelmed with sadness, I hate this, I needed to tell someone… I can’t believe you just texted.”
I’ve asked baristas and waitresses and a gas station attendant, I’ve asked incredibly outspoken atheists and people that don’t like me very much ((and people I don’t like very much)), and NOT ONCE has God been wrong or was that voice a lie.
Start responding friend.
When He tells you to turn around and talk to that jogger – do it.
When He tells you to send fifty bucks to an old college pal even though you aren’t aware of any specific financial need they have, do it.
Your obedience blesses them, your response honors God, and your own faith will grow like a wild weed when you start watching God use you for EXACTLY WHAT HE MADE US FOR: to be His hands + feet + voice + heart + hug here on Earth.
Call it what you want when the Holy Spirit comes a’knockin’ … ((I call it Creepy God moments)) … but for as weird as the world might think you are, as uncomfortable as you feel… isn’t saying “yes” to the God of the universe worth it?
What moments and opportunities have we missed by ignoring the good plan of that Creepy-Wonderful-All-Loving-All-Knowing-All-Seeing God of ours? How many hurting hearts have felt alone because the person He asked to extend love to them, didn’t? And in His omniscience and omnipresence and omnibenevolence He never needed us, He has infinity x infinity ways to send care or support to His kids, but we miss out on MORE OF HIM when we don’t respond to His voice… and then we say He doesn’t speak… when oh yes indeed He has.
As I processed with a dear friend yesterday what ways I needed to grow in knowing the voice of my Shepherd, my pal said “Just get started. Don’t overthink it, just do it. TELL HIM you need help deciphering His voice when the world seems too loud or too quiet, keep praying, read your Bible…”
And last night as I shut my door to the screaming teenagers and climbed into bed with my Bible, many passages in my evening reading hit square in the ol’ sternum, but this one felt almost too-specific, too-special, toooooooo… creepily “coincidental”…
“My child, listen to what I say and treasure my commands.
Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain the knowledge of God.”
Friend! Let us search after Him and His words like they are hidden treasure! At the end of this trip ’round the sun let us say that we have gained much in the knowledge of the Lord!
I’m lifting an imaginary champagne coupe to toast to 2018 with you, and as we clink our crystal rims let’s cheers to a year that gets really really creepy!