I’m reading about cedar trees this morning. This isn’t one but it’s a picture gift snapped quick unexpected through the car windshield in front of me when I took notice and gasped delighted. I love trees. They stand guard quiet and silent. They “personify” His presence to me, if a tree can be a person, which to me they rather are. And the sun shining through just at the right moment like that? “Peace. Be Still. I am.”
Yesterday at church I struggled to hear. Scrambled to feel “belonged to.” I have been sorting through my life scrap box and taking note how distraction can take my fixed eyes off the Rail Himself. And when the distraction gets bored with you and gets distracted itself, it’s work in your head sufficiently accomplished, it’s difficult to quell the echo. So I sat in that hard pew, hard because my place felt hard, and listened…..distracted. Did I hear the word “pray”? It grabbed me and I looked down at my bracelet given to me by an anchor friend.
Had I talked to God about this? Like …on purpose? I’d been batting thoughts like pesky flies but…….this God, this God I’m reading about this morning…..Whose very voice breaks the cedars, thunders His glory, is upon the waters, splits and flashes lightning, makes the wilderness tremble……had He been talking to me? Could I have actually missed this Voice?? The speaker’s words continued on in the background as I wandered around in my head. I recall seeing this verse…..I was so distracted I don’t actually remember what I saw it on but the reference was as familiar as my name. And yet, I found myself feeling like my name had been called out in class. “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm, then, and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” It sounded very “admonitiony” and I sat up straighter. OH. I had forgotten to stand. I had submitted. Again. I’d found myself on all too terra familiar. And somehow, I seemed to hear my Father say…..”and now that you hear My voice, let’s make this particular yoke be the last time. Yes?”
So right there, in the middle of a sermon that I admit I was paying little attention to, save the “pray” word, I started….praying. I mean, I had precious little time to waste. Renew my mind, God. Let me hear You. Let me recognize it.
I made my way to a dinner being held after the sermon and mingled on purpose; desperate to see Him in the eyes of His people. “God. I will not let go, until I start to hear Your voice above the swell in my ears. I’m just flat out sick of not.” I turned to see a woman I’d long wanted to get to know better but….well, the distraction had made me distant….. and spun her around to hug her and look her in the face. She had a story. “Sit down,” she said to me and so I sat, ready to hear. At that moment, right at the moment He’d planned all along, someone “interrupted” our conversation to say hello to my friend. “Oh! I know your wife! I haven’t seen her in s o l o n g. Please tell her Tamara said hello!” And just like that, the recognition set in on his face. He remembered me. He’d heard parts of my story. How was I, he wanted to know. Good. I’m good. Not an easy good? But a knowing good. Knowing Whose I am good, knowing the end of the story no matter what good. “I can tell,” he said. “You wouldn’t have had to say a thing. I can see it on your face.” He sat down and we caught up on all things life. And then this. He looked me straight in the eye. “How can I bless you?”
My eyes filled with tears. I was caught off guard. Not that I was guarded? But I couldn’t ever remember being asked that so directly by someone, and I swayed a little at it, like a wind blown through quick. And then I “heard” the whisper in my spirit. “This is Me. That is My question. I stand ready to bless you. I have all along.”
I woke up this morning. My hair was a m e s s. I ate the same green smoothie I always do. I packed up what to take with me same as any other day. But something was different. I had heard His voice. And I would step over, step on if I had to, the distractions to get to terra firma. I was ready to break this yoke for good. I’d seen it slap itself around my heart for the last time. He had heard my voice and responded with His own.
The voice of the Lord, the voice of the Lord, the voice of the Lord………Hear, oh hear…..the voice of the Lord.