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."