I didn’t hear God’s voice like a boom echoing in my bones, the kind that brings you to your knees and presses your face to the floorboards and makes quiet the thumping heart. Lingering in His voice as solid and steady as the ground beneath your body. The kind of surety that blankets you like a child wrapped snug into a fetal curve and rocking in peace.
But I did hear it. It was a whisper, like a cool breeze feathering across my skin, chills rising to the surface of my mind. Could this be it? Now Lord?
I dream of Africa on nights when my mind goes quiet and still, and I have waited on the Lord. For so long, it seems.
And now, I’ve heard Him. “Go.”
On the first missions meeting, we gathered in Heidi’s living room. I looked to the walls where she has picked up memories from Kenya, bound them and made them home, even here. She shares about the trip and her heart and I don’t have to carry the burden of all the details because God said go. I heard him.
But then weeks stretch on and I’m left with account sheets and balances and my google calendar overflows and tramples out days and time is moving so quickly and I’m not ready.
And when I think about it all, it makes no more sense now to go than the years when the doors were shut tight. Now isn’t more practical. Now I can’t afford it any more than when we were making minimum wage and Taco Bell was a special dinner out.
It is still impossible.
And when I pray my words come out all wrong. I have a brittle faith. I wish I could say I am brave and undaunted but the obstacles seem like Goliaths taunting me. And maybe my God too.
Because my theology has taught me for so long that God is poor and mean.
He is teaching me lessons that require a stern, “no,” a reprimand for a greedy child, instead of the lavish gifts of a father.
I have been trained for so long to pray around my needs. To pray into my heart. Lord, change my faith to be stronger, regardless of funds coming in. Lord, change my heart to trust you, regardless of things working out. Lord, give me strength, even if you choose not to heal me. Lord, let me believe, even when everything goes wrong.
I have given God a way out of answering my prayers. Like a magician who needs an escape hatch, I pray wide and vague. A way for him to still be God and powerful and never have to prove anything or show up, just in case it’s not His will.
I pray around the desires of my heart so I won’t be let down.
Because I believe God is poor and mean.
I said it. At the core of my trembling heart, I am still the girl waiting for her dad to turn off the news and see her, ask about her day, lift her onto his lap and offer her everything he has as her own.
I still wonder if at the end of it all, there will be a lesson in disappointment and I will name it contentment instead and shuffle my feet awkwardly when people ask me about that Africa trip I was supposed to go on and I’ll shrug and say that God is doing things even though that didn’t work out and I will remain the girl left with grasping hands and empty bags. And I will go on worshipping the god I know as poor and mean.
Because there are years of failed prayers, years of lessons learned the hardest way, years of no. And in truth, I have timidly mentioned Africa to people, because even though I know that God said go, and I don’t doubt his voice, he didn’t say how. He didn’t unroll the treasure map with the x clearly marked and the spotted lines flagging across the ocean to the point where I will crack it wide open and see I never had anything to worry about because I had the key all along.
In truth, I don’t want to have to trust in Him for everything. I don’t want to believe because belief takes you to the tip of the highest limb, where the winds whip fierce and wild. Belief asks you to close your eyes, hearing the roar of the shaking leaves, and with quaking legs, tiptoe to the crackling twig and trust that it will not break with the weight of your dreams.
Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt-every situation you believe to be the will of God.” And Jim did, even to the tip of the spear.
It’s easier to do when belief is carved into the sturdy trunk of absolutes. When the will of God says, Love your neighbor and it’s etched across thick bark, and you climb right past that one because it can bear the weight. But the branches fork and grow thin and spindly and from such great heights it’s hard to believe.
It’s hard to believe.
“Now Lord?” I whisper as I climb.
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