Friday, June 13, 2014

Five-minute Friday: Messenger

A few days ago, she leaned over the counter toward me as I rang her coffee order, fixing me with an awkward nervous gaze. I already wasn't impressed with her behavior as a customer, so I tried not to let my reservation flash across my face, a neon sign.

"This may sound weird," she faltered, "but when I saw you over here, I felt so strongly God wanted me to say to you that you might have a call on your life." Her eyes got wide and she held out her arms like she was looking down at goosebumps. "He wants you to talk to him."

I scooted down the counter, multi-tasking, preparing her drink, and pasted a smile on my face. It's so strange to be on the receiving end of this kind of Christianity, having been the one delivering my own messages in the past, with good intentions. But I didn't know then, what it could feel like to be singled out with a message often laden with presumption.

"Actually," I managed with my attempt of a gracious smile, "I talk to him often."

She looked genuinely surprised, thrown off, but she recovered quickly. "Oh, well. Good. But you need to listen to him, too. Spend time listening, not just talking. He has things he wants to say to you about your life."
I handed her the coffee, thanked her as genuinely as I could, and she gave me one last meaningful look. "Really. I feel this strongly. God bless you." And then she turned and walked slowly away.

There are all kinds of messengers on this daily walk of faith.

* * * * *

If I could have replied, I would have liked to say something like this:

I hear him, Ma'am, in the work of strong women writers who draw forth words from the deep places of knowing in me that have not yet been fleshed out with language. The ones who help me know what it is to be brave, gracious, intentional, confident, gentle and mighty with this one life I have. They don't always speak of God, in fact, many of them don't. But I hear him, Ma'am, I really do. And his voice rings true without the ribbons and wrappings that sometimes accompany religious language.

I hear him in the breeze songs carried across the lake where I live, in the wing beats of ducks, the intimate clustering of geese, the solitary stature and stately grace of great blue herons, that wrings my heart and makes me cry Glory.  

I hear him in the swell of life that arises after I quiet myself, when I open my eyes and close my mouth and press my ears to the wind and the chests of trees.  I hear his heartbeat here, I do. It takes my breath away and fills my lungs with new breath, all at the same time. 

And in the restless stirrings of the heart, I hear him. Those things that refuse to be silenced, growing up and spilling out of me. I hear him in my daily gratitude and in my dissatisfaction with some of the ways things are in this world, and in my own, the ones that bring me to my knees in the end of myself.

I hear him within the limitations of my language, grasping, always grasping, for words to express the inexpressible.  And still, I try. I try and I weep, for Ma'am, I cannot find words that stretch so far as that.

I hear him, too, in the dark, in the cave, in the tiny buds of hope shooting up from the ground and from the ends of branches, in the last glow of day before she surrenders to the night and in the songs outside my window, waking me before the sun peeks behind the trees. 

You say I might have a call on my life, and surely, I do. It's not a call like the ones I knelt and wept and prayed for years past, when I hungered for holy ones to place their hands on me and send me out with God's blessing. 

I know my call, and it's not that different from anyone else's who dares to listen, nor is it special, though it is enough to make me shudder with the weight of it all.

To do justly. To love mercy. To walk humbly with my God. To care for the poor, the widow, the orphan. To love my neighbors. To love myself.

To know and love God, above all other pursuits in this life, the to end of my days. 

I'm listening, yes, I am, even when I'm a poor listener.

God has placed all kinds of messengers in my life, and I thank you for reminding me, how he speaks in unexpected places.

*  * * * *
Linking up with Lisa Jo, to the prompt of "Messenger." 





  1. Oh my goodness. I knew just from the way your phrased your comment on my post that I was going to like you. But wow. I got chills. In fact, I had to stop reading and comment because the words were overpowering me. They are full of beauty and truth and real. I love your style and your story. I am grateful that you visited me and grateful to have visited you. I will now be a follower. Blessings to you.

    1. I'm sorry this is reply is so late in coming... but what a gift your words were to me. I'm honored and humbled, really, that you have found a place here. I hope you continue to feel welcome, and I look forward to knowing you more. Bless you, friend.

  2. Your words are powerful and written so beautifully. I like how you acknowledge the truth in a message with many presumptions, while reframing it at the same time. Thanks for sharing this moment.

    1. I know this is a late reply, but I so appreciated your words, how you understood the presumptions of this message and recognized the reframing. I confess, it's not always easy for me to draw out the truths and reframe when messages are packaged in ways that I'd be inclined to discard. But then, I'm not always the best messenger, either, eh? ;-) So this is a humbling practice in grace and sight for me.

  3. wow this is beautiful. I really needed this message thank you

    1. I love when that happens, Julia. Thank you for being here, even if this is a late thank you...

  4. Wow! You have a gift with words. You show not tell and that is a talent/gift. I'm a high school English teacher and I try all year to get my students to show---that we should sense it with several of our senses not just read it. Some have it naturally and just need the confidence to let it come out. Others are open to finding it and they do. Others attempt but don't succeed for a myriad of reasons. But I don't give up on them.

    I like how you acknowledge your calling. Sometimes, we just need to be reminded. At least I do. I can lose my grip on my calling and then a messenger comes along and reminds and affirms me and I'm back on track.

    1. Beth, your words were so affirming, and even though I'm late to the reply here, I really thank you. And you're right: sometimes we do just need to be reminded of our calling, of the simplicity and beauty and wonder of it. I know I could benefit from regular reminders, spoken in the mirror, if you know what I mean ;-) Thank you, again. So nice to see you here.

  5. Wow it took her all kinds of courage to come say that to you. As awkward as it was. I dare say I agree with her (and you). I think you do have a mighty calling on your life....The kind you spoke of and the kind that will/does speak to others. And now I am speaking what just came to my it for you or me or both of us I don't know. In our youth we look to the promised land and just want to be there...we fashion in our minds what it will look like be like feel like and we forget where we are standing we solely focus on the dream and what we have made it. As we grow we become accustomed to the desert....what were our foolish hearts thinking? We get used to the taste of sand on our lips and we forget where we are going...destined to be. In our wisdom we remember our bright eyed youthful rose colored glasses and we find a passion that has grown and changed with the lessons of the desert. We grow weary of sand and dryness and recall that their is a promise and we quicken our step...thankful for where we have been and where we are but moving onward into our purpose. Oh her presentation may have been lacking but sure as shootin' God was speaking.....I can feel it.

    1. I confess, friend, courage is not what came to mind when she spoke to me, but even in her presumption, even in her overly-spiritual tone, even in the general vagueness of it all, I'm grateful God spoke to me. I'm grateful for the grace that helped me hear, that helped me remind myself, really, of how he speaks to me and that I DO hear him. It's a good reminder to me that he speaks through so many mouths, and that even through my own imperfect, bumbled ways, he can speak to others, too. So grateful for this grace, amen? And so grateful for you and the beautiful ways you remind me of this.