Saturday, July 2, 2016

you will never walk this path alone!

"Be still...and know that I am God!"

From the time that I was a little girl, I always had this "feeling" that I could "hear" God. I was less into the fashion of the day (we were too poor for me to even have "new" clothes, let alone new toys) so I took solace in the books that I read and the nature that was around me. Going on nature hikes, finding agates in the gravel roads near my house and spending time with my collie dog, that pretty summed up my "twixt twelve and twenty" years.

It was in many of those moments of solitude that I would go to God in prayer. It was less a recitation of the known prayers and more of just a young, and many times, scared girl talking with God. I never thought of God as that fearsome Being in robes who kept a log of all of the "bad" things I did, but rather a figure who would just hear me in all of my supplications.

I heard Him in the wind, I saw Him in the face of strangers, and whenever someone was generous enough to give my mother a bag of hand me down clothes for me, well, I knew that God was in the mix there, too.

When I was twelve, I needed a winter coat. It didn't have to be fancy, just warm. The one I had was thin, threadbare and too small for me. "Please, Lord, just a coat!"

Then one cold day, I found one in the Dumpster where I lived. It was too big. In fact, it was a woman's coat, not one for a girl. It needed new buttons. It certainly wasn't the style but it WAS warm. "Thank you, God!" I praised, " for this new coat!" And I sewed on buttons and proudly wore it to school...where I was laughed at. You see, I didn't see that coat as being anything but a gift...until I saw it through the eyes of kids who were mean enough to point out its flaws: too big, too brown, too repaired, too...ugly.

With heavy shoulders, I questioned it. "Lord, why did you give me a coat if You knew I would get laughed at by the other kids at school?"

No answer.

Every day that winter and the winter following it, I wore that coat, until a neighbor gave me not one, but TWO coats that her daughter had outgrown. Oh my! They were beautiful! They were perfect! They were warm! They were...just right!

I learned something, however, by wearing the coat that someone had thrown away. I learned to see beauty in what another saw as damaged goods. I learned to appreciate...that is, to ACCEPT that oftentimes what may be turned down, or mocked, is in fact what makes us stronger as we accept that sometimes in life, you don't always get what you want, but you may just get what you need...and to be thankful for that.

I learned also that God always does hear us. It may not always be what we want--again it may just be what we need to accept, and live with, despite the jeers, the taunts and the pain of feeling that we have been given short shrift.

Oftentimes, though we have dreams that if we do everything right,  life will be fair to us and grant us happiness, life doesn't always work out that way. But what I did learn from being silent and trusting that God knows better than I ever could, is that sometimes He leads us through those dark and scary moments in life not to tear us DOWN, but to build us UP! You can't erect a new building on top of an old one, you need to remove and start over. Same as with life, tear down those old thoughts, start over with fresh thoughts and in everything, know that God does hear you, He is with you and  you never walk this path alone.  How do I know this? Simple. By being still, being in the moment and listening. You can't be in the moment if technology gets in the way, drowning out those thoughts and communications. You need time to just stop...and allow God into those busy moments of your day.

As I was watering my garden today, the church bells in town rang. As they rang, I said a few "Hail, Mary's" and an "Our Father." I felt His presence; I could feel it in the sounds of the birdsongs, in the wind as it whispered through the trees and was there also in the fragrance of those flowers. In short, I felt loved.

Today, take time to listen for God. Yes, go to Him and present your thoughts and your troubles, but also your gratitude. Then just listen. Eventually you will hear will know when He has spoken. It isn't an earth-shattering moment but instead, just a quiet knowledge that soon, all will be OK in your world, if only for a little while. And when or if you are handed an "old coat" moment, don't despair, oh no! Please don't feel as though God hates you or doesn't care! Maybe, just maybe what He IS saying is that He knows what you need and sometimes, you just have to be patient, become strong and soon, all that you could have hoped for will come to fruition. The life of a follower of Jesus is not always the easy path, but in the end it will be the best road you have ever traveled!

I promise.