Originally posted on four moms on April 8, 2009
At the beginning of lent I signed up to participate in my church’s ’40 Days of Prayer’, the idea being that instead of giving something ‘up’ for lent to give something ‘more’ for lent. I was terrified of the idea of praying for an hour straight for forty days in a row…so I knew I had to do it. This is a story of one of the things I have experienced from this commitment.
God has been moving in me, making me curious. ‘God what is your will for my life.’ For months as I am sporadically asking, I hear nothing, silence, a vast abyss that fails to answer my need. Time, I think. With time God will answer. So I keep praying, sporadically, in bursts and spurts and still silence. Not the silence of being in the woods on a spring day with birds chirping and leaves rustling, but the silence of wearing earplugs, only my own thoughts echoing around inside my mind. Still I know I am not alone, God is there, I know it, I sense His mighty presence somewhere behind a synapse, I just don’t hear Him.
Months pass and now the approaching is not sporadic. Daily I am kneeling before God’s throne, seeking His forgiveness, His love, His filling, His answers. One question of many that always, always, always, gets asked ‘Father God, what is your will for my life.’ A few days, nothing, still only echos. Yet I persist. A few weeks, and I ask again ‘God what is your will for my life’. I am ready to move on before I even ask, expecting that more time is needed. Instead He answers. “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.’ Instead of falling over in awe and praise that God can be heard, approached and answers, I think a small thank you God, jot it down in my prayer journal and wait, with longing for more. Somehow I want more. These beautiful true, simple words of Jesus are not filling the void. I yearn for details, specifics, a five year action plan from the almighty.
Still I persist. God, what is your will for my life. God: To love me with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself. Broken child: God, what is your will for my life. God: To love me with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself. This story repeats over and over and still, in my brokenness I want more. I don’t think about how to obey and answer, I just keep wanting.
The conversation turns to this as I finally let my emptiness spill out to the one who already knows how painfully empty I am. I am before God once again. God what is your will for my life. God: Love me with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.
Me: God, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but that is just so vague…I am type A God, you made me this way, can you please just give me something specific…
God: Leah, why are you making this so complicated…why don’t you just start with the loving your neighbour part. Leah just go and love your neighbour. Yes Leah, literally. Yes Leah, someone who lives on your street. You know your neighbour…
This still seems too simple, too small, too insignificant. It is mixed with guilt over where I live and what I have. I don’t listen. For I have sinned and all too often fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
On Thursday I’m in the kitchen with the kids. We are all dressed and fed, but as far as hair combed and faces washed…not so much. The house is a disaster, it’s cleaning day and I would be embarrassed to let someone see it. I have a long to do list in my mind and haven’t started yet as my son wanted to make banana cookies and I also mixed up some bread dough, resulting in even more mess.
Ding dong. I go to the door. Of course it’s not a surprise to you, but it was to me…my neighbour. (Not someone I know well, really just a casual hello over grass mowing once in a while, I am closer in age to her children, than to her.) And, yes, someone who lives on my street. A literal neighbour.
Me: (Internal) Oh I guess this is your idea of a joke.
God: Not a joke exactly, we can discuss later, but time is a ticking, are you going to leave her out in the cold with a quick hello or listen…
So I finally listened and invited my neighbour in. (And I am almost too ashamed to say that a big part of me hoped she couldn’t.) My kids and I fed her a fresh banana cookie with a cup of tea. I hoped nothing from the floor was sticking to her socks and she wouldn’t be too grossed out by the state of my kitchen to eat the cookie. I listened while she talked, gave her some empathy for some difficult things she is going through right now, regarding aging parents who live far away, and feeling lonely after moving across the country. I hope she left feeling not my initial hesitancy, but a small sliver of God’s perfect love.
Night came and I once again I venture before God. ‘Father, God, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for the blessing of sending my neighbour over and thank you that I put aside my own selfish ‘to do’s’ and pride about my belongings enough to obey you. God you are good.’ And I hear silence, not the vast echoing kind, but the lovely spring kind, like I am walking though the woods with my maker.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)