Last night a heavy storm blew through. It kept my sleep fragmented, so I woke up late in the morning. Sitting after prayer, I looked out the window and saw the leaves sparkling as they waved in the bright sunlight. The trees usually don’t sparkle, I thought, beautiful. It was like a moving sea of green gems, flashing with bright sparks – LIFE RENEWED.
The layer of water on the leaves created a shimmering display after the storm covered everything in a heavy, humid air. It inspired me to write a poem about the things God has in mind for all of us…
A storm in the night threw its heavy lament,
blowing and churning a foul torment,
We sat silent in a damp gloom
waiting on the morning’s bloom;
Sunlight spotted the trees with glitter,
for though the storm sent great affliction,
the tears lingering on us were not bitter;
We saw our souls’ testing was not cruel fiction,
but purpose was meant in the trial,
the tears washed on us were not vile;
For like wet leaves swaying in sunlight flare,
sparkling bright in heavy air,
our sorrow is a covering to make us new;
A cocoon saturating us with radiance all through;
Renewal only possible after being truly broken,
It’s a wisdom God had spoken
in ages gone by and by,
but still we need reminding,
we will never really fly
if our candied hearts remain blinding;
Hold faith in God through all hardship
and seek His righteousness all the same,
Then you will see His plan in kinship
has everlasting growth as its aim.
3rd Compass copy and audio at http://3rdcompass.com/core/network?c=jrnl&obj=1682393460725620456
Earlier this week I was moved to pray for a friend who was straying from Christian ideals. Later that day, she told me to check out a song she liked called “What If” by Nichole Nordeman. I wasn’t familiar with the song or artist, but when I checked them out, I found the theme jolted something from my past life.
The song started, suggesting, “What if you’re right. Jesus was just another nice guy who taught us love. What if it’s true? They say the cross will only make a fool of you…” But then Nichole continues singing with a forceful vibrance, “BUT WHAT IF YOU’RE WRONG? WHAT IF THERE’S MORE? WHAT IF THERE’S HOPE YOU’VE NEVER DREAMED OF HOPING FOR?…”
In that moment I remembered an instant in time five or six years ago when a “born again” Christian reached out to me. She was talking about Jesus and salvation and I remember starting to feel uncomfortable and thinking, “Oh great, she’s trying to hook me into religion.” I was polite and listened to her, but inside I couldn’t wait for the conversation to end.
I said, “I don’t believe in that stuff. I don’t think it’s real.” And I especially remember her reply, “What if you’re wrong?”
You know how I responded? With pride in my own viewpoint and a devil may care attitude, I blurted back, “Then I’ll be wrong, and I’ll deal with it,” and ended the conversation there.
Little did I know how “unenlightened” my position was or that God would move me towards Him a few years later in ways I couldn’t even imagine. I was one of those “I need proof to believe” people and remember rejecting evangelists on many occasions. Now I feel sorry for rejecting God so many times and wonder, “What if I understood those many years ago? Where would I be now having given God those extra years to move me on the path He wanted me to be on? How much more could I have done by now?”
What if?… The timing for this nudge was perfect because the past week was full of a million odds and ends tied up by that theme. I just finished the last race weekend of the year with a peek of good improvement after considering quitting for good. I almost decided to quit, but I got nudges to keep going because God always told me I could be more than I thought I ever could. I was also reminded that I wasn’t on the racetrack just for my amusement or to learn virtues like discipline and perseverance. I was also there to help save people by sharing my experiences. What if I quit when the going got tough and didn’t reach out to those dozens of people with the light of Christ?
This week I also decided to put my house on the market to help simplify my life and get rid of a huge debt. When I talked to the realtor she asked me what I did for a living. It was the perfect opportunity to share my story with her and give her a nudge towards God. She admitted to not being a very spiritually minded person. She’s very much into her work and the trends of the housing market, but she was very intrigued with my experiences. What if no one else would ever reach out to her in that way?
In the middle of the week I attended a media seminar and during the session the group networked and exchanged information. It was another opportunity to reach out to people. In fact, the lady who sat next to me was in the education business and commented to me how nothing was as “clear” as Darwinian evolution.
I replied, “It depends on your perspective,” because I knew where she was coming from after having been in the scientific and academic fields for most of my life. She too was intrigued by what I had to share. What if I didn’t go to the seminar and share my experience?
What if I never took the plunge last year to pursue all the spiritual guidance I got and quit my job to take a new life path? What if I wasn’t bold enough to stick it through to its finish and share my experiences with all my friends and family, most of whom were like me, blissfully ignorant of what God can do in our lives?
Since I’ve started this new life, I’ve been cued many times through spiritual guidance to reach out to people at certain times. I remember earlier this year on May 25th, I got some cues to reach out to someone as I went to the local coffee shop, so I kept open for someone who stuck out. Turns out it wasn’t hard to figure out who I needed to focus on.
When I sat down in the shop with my coffee, a young man, about college age, was talking loudly on his cell phone about how his Christian roommate kept pestering him about Jesus. For minutes he went on about how he wished his friend would stop. “I wish he would just stop it! I’m getting sick of hearing about Jesus!” he exclaimed.
I couldn’t help hearing his conversation and smiled inside, thinking, “Ok, I know what I’m supposed to do here.” When he got off the phone I introduced myself and offered him some materials to help him with his friend. I told him it was about understanding reality more completely, and he took it with excitement, saying the timing was perfect. He was only at the coffee shop to wait for his car to be fixed nearby.
What he didn’t know was how perfect the timing really was and that God synched our paths so I could nudge him in the right direction. I’ve been cued like this many times. A young gal at a different coffeehouse, a clerk at a music store, a receptionist at the dentist, racer friends, out of state acquaintances, everywhere. What if I submitted to my shy nature and didn’t reach out to any of these people?
Another question is, what if you didn’t either when you got the cues? You don’t need to have spiritual gifts or an amazing testimony to share. You only need to be open to God’s nudgings. They’re all around you, but most people miss them because they aren’t paying attention. Others ignore the guidance because they are uncomfortable with what they might have to do.
Moving with God, though, may not be as hard as you think. Sometimes all people need is a simple prayer. An example of this happened for me just this week as it turns out. Another “what if” circumstance. For months, I was getting cues to go to a Christian who was also straying from God. I wasn’t sure what to do though, because I didn’t know her well.
I kept putting the cues aside until two weeks ago I understood all the cues were for a good reason. I went to her workplace where she is a bartender and intended to pray with her quickly. However, that day I had been out with friends and family and couldn’t get to the bar until late at night. By then the place was packed with people and ringing with the cacophony of loud music and a large crowd. I had to shout to carry on a conversation and she was busy tending to customers. I thought it wasn’t a very good time or place to pray.
I pondered pulling her aside to a quieter corner, but I kept balking and used the excuses of, “It’s too noisy. There’s too many people here or she’s too busy,” and ended up leaving without doing my job. I figured, “Oh, I’ll just do it another time. It won’t matter.”
How many times do we do that with the best intentions, but then forget about it and let the task slip into a no return, black hole of complacency? I started to do that and let it slip as I focused on other things, but a week later during church service I got a reminder nudge, a little harder than usual. Let’s say God prodded me a bit.
During the sermon, the pastor was talking about the Book of Acts and how the early church was moving and doing things in the midst of the city, reaching out to people everywhere, even in the middle of the marketplace. As he talked about that, my task to pray for my friend started coming back to the forefront of my mind. And as the pastor continued, he said, “So make it your assignment this week to go out and pray for people… in the city, at work, at the store, at the park,” and then he said it, “… at the bar.”
I thought, “Aw, come on! You had to have him say that, Lord?” I couldn’t believe it, but I laughed silently, knowing exactly how God works through different people in synch for a common purpose. I made it a firm task right then to go back to the bar and pray for my friend.
This time I made sure to come early when the bar would be quieter. I asked if I could pray for her and when she accepted I said a quick prayer, hardly a minute long, to bring God’s Spirit on her and help her move towards Him. That’s it. I knew God would do the rest and help her continue as long as she would be attentive to His nudges.
Afterwards, she thanked me and said she really needed the prayer. I could tell it was the right time. What if I shrugged off the cues to get the job done and not moved with God to help her renew and move? Maybe someone else would have picked up my slack? I don’t know, but what if there was no one else who would act? What if you’re the only one placed in someone’s life just perfectly to make a difference?
I’ve talked about destiny before. It’s a real concept, but it’s also real that destiny can slip right by if we don’t make the right choices, not just for us but for the people around us. I’ve seen some amazing things since I allowed God into my life. How He weaves our lives, events, and the tiniest details with perfect synchrony is mind blowing, but you’ll miss it if you’re not paying attention.
Think about it. Ask God to surprise you. Ask to do more for Him. Then pay close attention. You’ll quickly see why Nichole Nordeman so passionately sings, “WHAT IF THERE’S MORE? WHAT IF THERE’S HOPE YOU’VE NEVER DREAMED OF HOPING FOR? WHAT IF YOU JUMP? JUST CLOSE YOUR EYES. WHAT IF THE ARMS THAT CATCH YOU, CATCH YOU BY SURPRISE…”