I think I might be hard of hearing. Not completely deaf but I must be close. Maybe a little bit like someone you have to repeat everything you say once or twice because the first time you say it they look at you blankly and say, "huh??"
What led to this conclusion was the fact that when God really wants me to hear something He whispers it over and over again. Usually it starts with a conversation with a friend, Scripture, or some obscure phrase in the middle of a sentence in the middle of a chapter in the middle of a good (or even not-so-good) book. The most recent instance goes like this...
Last week I began my second round of a step study written by Celebrate Recovery. It's an intense journey of gut-level honesty that is based on eight principles (and twelve steps) from The Beatitudes. As I answered the questions for the first "step," I realized I had not yet let go of some of my heart's desires. One of the questions asked, "what is worrying you right now?" Off the top of my head, I couldn't think of anything. I remember thinking, "surely there's something I'm worrying about!"
Pondering that question, this small voice inside me said, "You know what you're worrying about...you're worrying that since you're a mother now of two small children who need constant attention and care that you will somehow miss out on the things you want to accomplish."
I immediately protested, "I can't write that down! That's not a noble thing to worry about! I should put that I worry about my children's safety, or my husband's health, or the children of parents dying of AIDS in poverty-stricken Africa! Not that I'm a completely self-absorbed person that is worried about missing out on the things I want to do instead of loving and shepherding my children and their precious hearts! Eck!!"
Alas, the latter is much more true than the former. And thus, whisper #1: I have failed to trust the Lord with the desires of my heart. I have chosen to delight in the temporary, not in the eternal.
Whisper #2 came only hours later. I keep letters and birthday cards in the drawer of my nightstand. Every now and then I enjoy reading them. Some provide encouragement and others serve as reminders of where I've been and where I'm headed. I picked up a friend's email that was so profound that I had to print it out and store it in my sacred nightstand. The email, dated two years ago, spoke more clearly to me where I am today than where I was the moment I first read it. My friend describes herself as a "lady in waiting" - waiting on the Lord to show her the next step in her journey with Him while being faithful with what is in front of her at the moment. She explains how she "reluctantly, with fear and trembling, gave Him back" a dream that He had given her as a child. He, in turn, has given her a dream right back - His dream - a new dream that includes the old.
As I read the email again, my heart soared, "Lord, you know my heart. You have given me these desires. You will fulfill them in the way YOU see fit, not how I think things should go. What is before me is to love and shepherd the hearts of my children - to impart your Word to them. Help me to trust You, to delight in You, to know that You are the very Author of these desires."
That brings me to this morning. As I sat down to read my devotion for today, the words leapt from the page, "Day Nineteen, 'Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart (Ps. 37:4)'." Whisper #3.
In the third paragraph, the writer states, "As we make ourselves available to delight in God, He slowly revolutionizes our approach to finding fulfillment. Those who seek to delight in the Lord will utlimately develop a delightful relationship with Him; however, by the time God makes Himself the seeker's delight, the once self-seeking treasure hunter has been transformed."
She goes on, "Anyone who truly delights in the Lord will one day realize that God has become the desire of her heart. When He is our delight, we begin to want what He wants. We come to trust His best for us. When we struggle with self-seeking desires, we hit our knees in prayer. We become wise enough to ask Him to overrule any desire that would ultimately betray us. We no longer want anything that lacks His approval."
Amen! My heart couldn't have expressed it any better than the writer had! Thank you for your whispers, God! I've now decided to be a bit softer on myself. Not on the part of me that is self-seeking and untrusting, but the part that hears the same message from the Lord over and over again. Maybe it's not my hearing. Maybe it's that the Lord is so gracious and loving that He wants to prove how patient He is and how He longs for me to know HIS desire for me - to make Himself my only desire.