Awakened By Silence & Song

via Daily Prompt: Chaotic

There’s nothing quite like collective silence. Whether you’re standing at a school Remembrance Day assembly as the Last Post is played on the bugle, or the moments before communion is served at church, there’s something special about collective silence. Silence makes some people feel awkward. At the same time, it has a way of tapping into our vulnerable parts. It’s the means in which the soul speaks, and is heard. Collective silence is usually an intended experience, therefore, is less awkward and intentionally taps into our soul.

I had the opportunity to experience collective silence during a concert of one of my favourite singer-songwriter artists. When we arrived at the venue we were shocked to find out that we would not be sitting in the theatre seats. Instead, we were ushered onto the stage to a table only a few feet away from the very intimate make-shift stage. It was everything I dreamed of – a dimly lit room with a sea of small tables, each with a candle. The small stage faced the audience and their backdrop was the imperial-looking empty theatre seats. The room glowed with crisp white, blue and orange spot lights that illuminated the dancing dry ice high above the stage.

The well-planned atmosphere set the tone for what I was about to experience. Like most fans, when you see your favourite band you feel the excitement more intensely minutes before the band arrives on stage. I was in a happy place – anticipating certain songs and elated that I got to share this experience with my loved one and a room full of fans.

After the opening artist exited the stage and the crowd had a few minutes to stretch, the moment I was waiting for had arrived. There was no grand entrance. He was dressed quite casual and addressed the audience like friends. The first few chords synchronized with the warm whispers of his voice called us in. The crowd’s excitement was not concealed, and after the first few songs the largely generational crowd clapped (which was most appropriate for this artist – it wasn’t a chanting, screaming, moshing type of band). As the evening progressed I became mesmerized by the collective silence. The music generated the silence. It created a sense of awe. To me, it felt like the music danced on my soul. I feel a lot. Usually it’s the emotional response to daily stresses, but not tonight. Tonight the music tapped into the depths of my unattended emotions. His musical stories played in perfect unison by each band member entered my space and danced. The mournful melodies matched with honest lyrics and the strikingly somber bowing of the violinist swayed back and forth on my soul. Those pure emotions of joy and sorrow surfaced and met each other in a dance. Together with strangers, silent and in awe, my soul experienced the dance. I felt connected to the stories not entirely because of firsthand experience but in an empathic manner.

portland
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

In the silence, I wondered if the crowd was experiencing what I was experiencing: the resuscitation of emotions through song. “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). In my emotionally parched world, I experienced a wonderful array of emotions during the concert. Was it a spiritual experience? Yes, without question. God was present in the collective silence, in the stories sung and harmonious melodies of each song. My soul thirsted for connection and an emotional awakening, and I found God.

I love it when musicians are all right when a crowd responds with silence. I know sometimes musicians call for ‘response’ and seem to feel insecure during silence. To me, when music is so inspiring, silence is a golden sign of respect. Collective silence is a powerful means of connecting us with each other and our forgotten emotions.

donovan

To you Donovan Woods, I say thank you for your accessible and beautifully sorrowful songs that aren’t depressing, but awaken long-lost emotions and make them dance.

Donovan Woods

 

*photos by author

Awakened By Silence & Song

There’s nothing quite like collective silence. Whether you’re standing at a school Remembrance Day assembly as the Last Post is played on the bugle, or the moments before communion is served at church, there’s something special about collective silence. Silence makes some people feel awkward. At the same time, it has a way of tapping into our vulnerable parts. It’s the means in which the soul speaks, and is heard. Collective silence is usually an intended experience, therefore, is less awkward and intentionally taps into our soul.

I had the opportunity to experience collective silence during a concert of one of my favourite singer-songwriter artists. When we arrived at the venue we were shocked to find out that we would not be sitting in the theatre seats. Instead, we were ushered onto the stage to a table only a few feet away from the very intimate make-shift stage. It was everything I dreamed of – a dimly lit room with a sea of small tables, each with a candle. The small stage faced the audience and their backdrop was the imperial-looking empty theatre seats. The room glowed with crisp white, blue and orange spot lights that illuminated the dancing dry ice high above the stage.

The well-planned atmosphere set the tone for what I was about to experience. Like most fans, when you see your favourite band you feel the excitement more intensely minutes before the band arrives on stage. I was in a happy place – anticipating certain songs and elated that I got to share this experience with my loved one and a room full of fans.

After the opening artist exited the stage and the crowd had a few minutes to stretch, the moment I was waiting for had arrived. There was no grand entrance. He was dressed quite casual and addressed the audience like friends. The first few chords synchronized with the warm whispers of his voice called us in. The crowd’s excitement was not concealed, and after the first few songs the largely generational crowd clapped (which was most appropriate for this artist – it wasn’t a chanting, screaming, moshing type of band). As the evening progressed I became mesmerized by the collective silence. The music generated the silence. It created a sense of awe. To me, it felt like the music danced on my soul. I feel a lot. Usually it’s the emotional response to daily stresses, but not tonight. Tonight the music tapped into the depths of my unattended emotions. His musical stories played in perfect unison by each band member entered my space and danced. The mournful melodies matched with honest lyrics and the strikingly somber bowing of the violinist swayed back and forth on my soul. Those pure emotions of joy and sorrow surfaced and met each other in a dance. Together with strangers, silent and in awe, my soul experienced the dance. I felt connected to the stories not entirely because of firsthand experience but in an empathic manner.

portland
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

In the silence, I wondered if the crowd was experiencing what I was experiencing: the resuscitation of emotions through song. “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). In my emotionally parched world, I experienced a wonderful array of emotions during the concert. Was it a spiritual experience? Yes, without question. God was present in the collective silence, in the stories sung and harmonious melodies of each song. My soul thirsted for connection and an emotional awakening, and I found God.

I love it when musicians are all right when a crowd responds with silence. I know sometimes musicians call for ‘response’ and seem to feel insecure during silence. To me, when music is so inspiring, silence is a golden sign of respect. Collective silence is a powerful means of connecting us with each other and our forgotten emotions.

donovan

 

 

To you Donovan Woods, I say thank you for your accessible and beautifully sorrowful songs that aren’t depressing, but awaken long-lost emotions and make them dance.

Donovan Woods

*photos by author

White Roses

It’s October and I’m making one last attempt at fixing the mess of my lawn. I haven’t a green thumb at all and I’m trying to ‘over’ seed to choke out the weeds. As I sit outside watching the sprinkler water the weedy mess, my attention becomes devoted to my grandfather’s white rose bush. First of all, I can’t believe I’ve been able to keep it alive now for 10 years considering that every other plant I’ve tended to has had a short life span. It’s not a beautifully manicured rose bush, but has a variation of small buds, full blooms and rose hips with a few petals hanging on. My grandfather’s rose bush is symbolic of my priorities these days: rarely do I take the time to labour for something beautiful. I find I spend most of my time on the life essentials like food, clean clothes, bills and of course, social media. By slowing down long enough to just sit on a lawn chair (no social media check-ins) I was able to appreciate my grandfather’s un-manicured white rose bush. It’s the only plant in the garden with flowers still on it. Grandpa’s white roses are a reminder to not only slow down and smell the roses, but that beautiful things are an investment.

whiteroses

Throughout my childhood, I watched my grandparents tend to their garden. They never seemed stressed out with 1000 things to do. They were present. They were in the moment. They catered to each plant, pruning, fertilizing and watering them with expertise and care. My sister and I took pleasure in the fruits of their labour enjoying garden picnics with delicious cherry tomatoes, crunchy carrots and homemade desserts with fresh berries from their the garden. I wish I had more time to focus and invest in things that don’t have an immediate result like my health, home or art projects and flourishing relationships.

Jesus said that a man had a fig tree in his vineyard that didn’t produce fruit for 3 years, and told the man that took care of the vineyard to cut it down. This tree was a waste of useful soil. ““Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down”” (Luke 13:6-9). The gardener in the story refuses to give up on the fig tree and knows that if he provides the fig tree with what it needs then it will produce fruit…but if it doesn’t produce fruit a year later, cut it down (Luke 13:6-9).

This story has greater significance than just tending to a plant in hopes that it will produce fruit. It’s about repentance. God is the vineyard owner and Jesus is the one providing us with all that we need to receive repentance and live a fruitful life.

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Matthew 3:8

Similar to how I don’t take time to slow down and invest in something ‘great,’ I also don’t regularly repent. I just expect to become that beautiful blooming flower without the need for any pruning. I need to invest in my spiritual health by regularly recognizing that I’m not perfect and I need God to make me more like Him. Repentance is the pruning that allows our lives to bloom.

Taking a few minutes to appreciate what’s always been in my yard, was both a sad reminder that I trade in beauty for quick results, and a joyous memory of my grandfather’s devotion to invest and labour because something beautiful awaits.

I know the deepest longings in my heart need to be fed with those things in life that are free and cost the most. Beauty is all around us but it costs us time to embrace it and labour to bring it to life.

“Psalms 128:2 “You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be!”

grave

At my grandfather’s funeral my grandmother laid one of his white roses across his chest. It was grandpa’s favourite flower. Today I wish I could slow down and take joy in something so simple. Instead I rush to clean up dinner, prepare for the next day and try to quickly solve a serious weed problem in my backyard. Thank goodness grandpa’s striking white roses are the beauty among the sea of weeds that brought me back to fond memories of grandpa and made me stop long enough to smell the roses.

 

*photos by author

Welcome

blog

Welcome to my blog. It’s my hope that by sharing my perspective on life and faith will encourage you and connect us. Stephen Hawking said “Quiet people have the loudest minds.” This is true for me. I’ve struggled to find my voice ever since I was a child. I was incredibly shy and would not speak unless spoken to. As a teen I tried to speak up but found that louder male counterparts took the stage in social circles. Now as an adult, I have found my voice. It’s not loud and it doesn’t always demand an audience. People usually talk over me in large crowds but every so often I pipe up with something to say. I’ve found my voice in smaller audiences and through subtle acts of kindness and surprisingly by listening. This blog is by a highly sensitive introvert who is passionate about people and faith.

StevenHawking

GOD’S VOICE SOMETIMES SOUNDS LIKE UN-COMFORTABLE OBEDIENCE

yellowflower

During an afternoon lunch date I asked Angela if she hears God’s voice, and if so how does God speak to her and what does He say. I have to add this was after much chatting about ‘what’s new’ – I didn’t just dive into this question. I truly appreciate those friendships where you can talk about a fancy pair of heels, groceries, love, family and God all in one visit. Our lunch date consisted of all these which made for an excellent time.

I have to be honest, when I did ask Angela these few questions there was a long pause. They are not the type of questions you can answer within a few seconds. It’s the “oh my, I really have to think about these.” She was quick to respond that she, like myself, has never heard God’s voice audibly. Then there was the long pause. After a few more bites of my burger and fries I leaned in closer to hear her response. She said that she hears God’s voice when she is compelled to step out of her comfort zone. As someone who becomes anxious in crowds, travelling on public transit is not a preferred form of transportation for Angela. When travelling on public transportation she would rather sit alone but has felt compelled to sit beside certain individuals. She feels that it’s God’s way of asking her to step out of her comfort zone and obey Him. I asked if by sitting next to a certain person if she felt like she was supposed to talk to them or pray for them. She replied with, “No – sometimes I talk to them but sometimes I just feel compelled to sit next to them.” Reflecting on her response, I’m reminded that when God asks us to do something out of our comfort zone it could be something as simple as sitting beside a fellow traveler. It’s God’s way of reminding us that He’s with us and we don’t need to fear.

busMy conversation with Angela didn’t end with just one story of how God speaks to her but continued telling me of how she felt that God spoke to her about getting into a specific post-secondary school. She explained that it was somewhat of a difficult process applying for the school but she diligently persevered. After much paper work, long and difficult waiting periods and close dead lines, she didn’t get accepted. “All the doors seemed shut and I tried to remain positive because God is faithful and I trust He is in control…I was confused and angry, disappointed for a bit but it was an important experience.” She was sure that she had heard God’s voice tell her that this was the school she was to go to. Otherwise she wouldn’t have gone through the long process of applying for it. However, she didn’t remain upset about not getting in or didn’t questioned if she had heard wrong from God. She reminded me that God speaks to us and it’s up to us to obey His voice. Then she explained that when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Issac, Abraham obeyed God each step of the way. In the end God didn’t want Abraham to go through with the sacrifice. Abraham obeyed God’s voice and God provided Abraham with a ram to sacrifice instead of his only son. (Genesis 22).

Angela’s story of God telling her to apply for a specific post-secondary school and going through the long and difficult process only to not be accepted helps me not to question God’s voice. It does leave me with this question though: Why would God ask you to do something when it’s not going to work out in the end? I can think of numerous areas of my life where I thought I was supposed to do something and it would, in turn, have a certain result. I have to learn to listen to God, to go out on a limb and pursue those nudges, all with keeping in mind that the end result may not be what I thought it might be…and that’s alright!

ceiling
“But Samuel replied, ‘What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of ram.'”                      1 Samuel 15:22 NLT

 

 

*photos by author

Who Am I Now?

Have you ever asked yourself “Who am I?”

At different stages in life we ask ourselves this question. It’s usually a question we ask ourselves when we feel we’ve somehow lost a part of who we are. This tends to happen when we experience change in our lives. Our relationship status changes from ‘Single’ to ‘In a Relationship’ or visa-versa, our family grows or shrinks, our career changes or our spiritual journey takes a few turns in a direction we didn’t think it would ever go.

I feel like I’ve asked myself this question several times in my life. I can remember feeling like, “Okay, who am I now that I’ve switched careers? Is this a forever switch or stage in my working life?” I’ve also asked myself, “Okay, who am I now that I am married and living in a different city away from every social safety net?” I really lost a sense of self when I didn’t have family or childhood friends close by. It’s funny how much of whom we surround ourselves with shapes our sense of identity.

What gives us our sense of identity?

Obviously our gender, nationality, family, geographic location, spiritual beliefs, personality traits, passions and relationships all play important roles in shaping who we are. I don’t believe just one ‘thing’ defines us or gives us our identity. Although all these pieces can shape our identity, some play a more prominent role in shaping us than others. While faith and gender may be stronger forces that shape my identity, it may not be the case for someone else. A student may have his/her identity shaped by a diverse group of university friends, the high pace of a big city and have his/her beliefs shaped and challenged by scholars. A woman on the other hand may be strongly defined by her role as a mother. Her sense of identity comes from the love and care she gives to her children as well as the community of moms she surrounds herself with. Our sense of who we are is constantly being questioned (and might I say refined) as we get older and experience change.

flowers
The things that make me different are the things that make me. – Winnie the Pooh

“Don’t call me Naomi!” Do you think Naomi ever questioned her identity? From the statement above, I think she may have. Here’s her story:

Naomi is a wife and mother of two and an Israelite from Bethlehem, Judah, who leaves her home during a famine and settles in Moab. While in Moab she loses her husband, gains two daughter-in-laws and then loses her two sons. Naomi’s identity profile at the beginning of the story is an Israelite, a wife and mother from Bethlehem, Judah. Her identity profile quickly changes to widow, childless, living in Moab with two daughter-in-laws. Without a doubt, she must have questioned her identity – “Who am I now that I have lost both my husband and my two sons and I’m living in a place different from my hometown?” After having gone through such a drastic change, Naomi feels the Lord’s hand is against her (Ruth 1:13b). What an awful feeling! Her daughter-in-law Ruth encourages her by saying, “Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16b-17). Talk about someone being there for you when you really need it!

Together Naomi and Ruth head back to Bethlehem – a place familiar to Naomi. The town recognizes Naomi and exclaims, “Can this be Naomi?” Not feeling anything like the woman she was before she left Bethlehem (a married woman with 2 sons) Naomi replies with, “Don’t call me Naomi,” “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi?” (Ruth 1:19b-21a). Have you ever felt like the life you built and the person you thought you were changed drastically and just like Naomi you felt like saying to others, “I AM NOT…! WHY CALL ME…?”

If we’ve ever sensed a lost of identity, I’m sure we can all relate to Naomi in someway.

Who am I now that cancer has changed my body? Who am I after pregnancy? Who am I now that I am single, married, divorced, a widow, mother or grandmother? Who am I now that am unemployed, a stay at home mom, in charge of the company or entrepreneur? Drastic change and even the littlest change in our life can make us question who we are. …and it’s okay to question our identity. While some things in our life don’t change, others do. Even the consistent day-to-day can leave us longing for something more and questioning who we are. Either way, when the question surfaces don’t shy way. Engage with your thoughts and emotions. Take inventory – Who are you now?

Ask yourself the question once again – “Who am I?” or “Who am I now?” What words would you use to describe yourself?

When I answered this question I noticed that I answered it in categories – Adjectives, Relational Connections, Faith and Role in Society. I would describe myself as:

  • Adjectives: kind, quiet, thinker, creative, loving, sensitive, driven & responsible
  • Relational Connections: wife, daughter, sister & friend
  • Faith: Christian
  • Role in Society: communicator, teacher, writer & role-model

When taking inventory of your identity remember the truth of God in your life:

Ephesians2

  1. You are made in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27)
  2. You are designed for God’s purpose (You are called to a holy life of obedience and to bear fruit). (Matthew 16:24 & Galatians 5:22-23)
  3. You are his child and a part of a larger spiritual family. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
  4. You are forgiven and loved passionately. (John 3:16)

The story doesn’t end with Naomi feeling nothing like the person she once was  -“Don’t call me Naomi” (Ruth 1:20). Through her dedication to Naomi’s care and instruction, Ruth marries Boaz, the ‘guardian-redeemer’ and Naomi receives the land that would have been hers if her husband and two sons had lived.Who are you now Naomi? A widow with a faithful and loving daughter-in-law who marries the ‘guardian-redeemer’ Boaz and becomes grandmother to Obed, and who’s great great grandson would be King David.

You are not forgotten, empty and without family, you are loved and your life has purpose.

*PICS – healthshire.com, quotesgram.com & play.google.com

God’s Voice Sometimes Sounds Like A Desperate Call to Love the Unlovable

Everyone seems to know where ‘the best’ restaurant is for Chinese, Indian, Thai, etc. Like everyone else I claim to know where the best Thai food is in town. The restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside, but what it may lack in curb appeal it makes up for in layered flavours of sweet and spicy. It was at this gem of a restaurant Claire and I had an afternoon lunch date, joined by her adorable 1-year-old daughter. Although her daughter avoided the spicy dishes, she did enjoy steamed rice (which was more like sticky rice seeing that it ended up behind her ear and stuck to other parts of her clothing). She was very content eating her rice all the while enjoying the Thai art and surrounding customers while mom and I chatted.

After some time catching up on life I asked Claire if she hears God’s voice. Following a short pause she said, “Yes!” She said that she hears God’s voice audibly. I had to stop myself from showing too much excitement (it’s a quiet and serene environment and I wanted to shout, “REALLY?!!”). I needed to find out what God’s voice sounded like to her. She explained that God speaks to her through people. His voice is the sound of other believers and mentors speaking into her life. “How can you expect to hear the still small voice of God when you’re not listening to the audible voice of God through someone else?” I had to sit back for a moment to fully digest what she said. So it’s possible that God’s voice sounds like the people around me. It makes sense! She continued, “God’s voice is all around us. It can be heard in the voices of others.” She explained that since we are made in the image of God, and each person is wired up differently (some people are intellectual thinkers while others are emotional feelers), and God uses our unique personality to speak to others. “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 NLT

I asked Claire if she could explain a specific occasion where God spoke to her audibly. This question evoked a slightly longer pause than the first question. I quietly waited, and joined her daughter by having some more steamed rice (except my rice was paired with cashew chicken and Pad Thai). In a serious but very compassionate tone Claire began to tell me of a time when she was in college and was asked to love an individual that was incredibly difficult to love. She heard God’s still small voice say to her, “Please love this girl. Please, please love her!” The first time she heard, “Please love this girl” her response was, “No way! This girl is way too difficult to love.” …but she kept hearing God say to her, “Please, please love this girl!” I thought to myself, isn’t it weird for God to sound as if He is begging? Why would God need to beg? Begging is surely not a sign of a powerful God, although it is a sign of a loving and relational God. God is not so powerful that He doesn’t need us. He lovingly partners with us to show His love to others and to develop selflessness in us. God asks us to see each other (no matter how difficult someone may be to love) through a lens of love. “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12 NIV

stepsAfter numerous times hearing God say to her, “Please, please love this girl” Claire embarks on a very bumpy journey of loving this very troubled teenage girl from her local church…and when I say bumpy I mean rough. So rough that on one occasion punches were thrown. I know! I can’t for the life of me imagine this sensitive, kind, new-mother throwing a punch. I needed to hear this story in full. It all started after a lovely day at the beach – ice cream included. (Who doesn’t love a day that includes ice cream?). While Claire was driving the teenage girl home, she sensed the girl’s mood change from happy to angry (which was quite common for her). Claire turned to her and said, “I know you want to punch me right now. You can but I’ll punch you right back.” How did Claire know that the girl wanted to punch her? Sometimes you can just sense these things! I get it! Without hesitation the girl punched her hard right in the arm, and Claire without flinching punches her back. I know this doesn’t sound like the kind of mentoring strategies you’d hear about through a church-mentoring course, but for them it worked.

Claire spent her college years mentoring the young girl, and suspended judgment that opened the door for a very honest relationship with this girl. She was the only one who knew the girl was self-harming and engaging in unhealthy relationships. Claire also had the difficult job of talking to the girl’s parents about her toxic lifestyle. Throughout Claire’s college life she mentored the girl she wanted nothing to do with, even after hearing God’s voice say “Please love her!” It was an incredibly bumpy road of learning to love someone when it wasn’t easy. Even after graduating college, getting married and moving away, Claire stayed in touch with her. The teenage girl is now a young woman and Claire and her talk regularly over social media. When the girl’s father was very sick and on his death-bed Claire returned to the family’s home. The girl’s father’s last words to Claire were, “Take care of my girls” (meaning his wife and daughter).

rocks
Be the shelter that ‘the difficult’ retreat to when the downpour of pain becomes too overwhelming for them, all the while knowing that the torrential rain will test your shelter’s strength and may knock you down. – MB

It all began with “Please, please, love this girl!” To Claire, God’s voice was a desperate call to love someone very difficult. God’s voice is the still small voice that is heard in her spirit and begs her to love others even when it’s difficult. His voice is also heard audibly through God’s people (God’s image bearers) and especially through her mentors.

I left my lunch date with much more than just a full belly – I also left with the question: If God’s voice told me to love ‘the difficult’ would I, like Claire, make a commitment to a bumpy journey of loving someone? Loving someone difficult isn’t easy but it is what Jesus asks us to do.

Only weeks after the interview I found myself challenged to love when it wasn’t easy, and to understand that in certain circumstances I may be ‘the difficult’ one needing love.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34

What Does A Straight Path Look Like Anyways?

busy

What childhood dream did you have growing up? You may have to do a bit of memory recovery, and just like digging for a blue shirt in a mound of laundry retrieve your long lost childhood dream…take a few minutes to recover it.

…now why aren’t you doing what you dreamed of?😉 Either you wanted to be a doctor but couldn’t stomach the sight of blood, or reality hit when you pursued your dream but ended up having to take a 9-5 job to pay the bills.

I too had a childhood dream. At a young age I truly felt a calling to ministry. A middle school friend invited me to a local church youth program where I was introduced to Christ. As I grew older I began to pursue my ‘calling’ to serve the church.  I attended Bible College and 5 years later received my Bachelor of Theology degree. During my last year of schooling I got married and worked as a youth pastor at a church plant. Unfortunately after just a few years my husband and I decided we needed to move on. It was the most defining moment in our faith journeys. We were burnt out and disillusioned with the nature and structure of the church.

For years we struggled to find a church to call home but we simply could not settle anywhere for an extended time. We attended regular services at a few churches where I occasionally helped with children’s ministry and would speak at different youth events. I also spent my time writing youth small group curriculum.

After years of what felt like we were just wandering and never settling we still felt like God had planted this calling to serve the church deep within our hearts. I wish I could tell you that the wandering is over and that deep sense of calling is presently being fulfilled.

What happens when God places a deep sense of calling in your life but your life looks different from what you thought it would? Was this call a misunderstanding? Did I hear God wrong? Was God using what felt like the wandering in the desert to develop something in me?

Youth promises you the world on a silver platter: You will have a successful job, a beautiful home, a loving and cute spouse and an all around fulfilled life.

Age on the other hand tests your faith and ability to endure challenges, both the petite and grandiose in kind. Whether it’s traffic, you’re out of milk and your cereal is already in the bowl, a friendship or relationship falling apart or a death in the family, the silver platter becomes a tarnished and worn out dish.

I once thought that because you have a calling on your life God would literally pave a road and line it with cheerleading angels who’d encourage and protect you all the way to your destination.

A call is always a call and God never ever walks away from us. The path is straight but not always sprinkled with the sweet smell of rose petals and sometimes is twined with thorns.

“The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, but the wicked are bought down by their own wickedness.” Proverbs 11:5

As I read this verse over and over again I tried to make sense of it. I always read it as God is going to make our paths straight (i.e. no bumps, curves, twists or turns) but the reality I have experienced and the reality of many Christian friends is not of this perfectly straight life path. Then I thought, “Wait! No one I know is blameless!” I’m not blameless so why should we expect straight paths? (Romans 3:20) But then I realized righteousness is partnering with God. Righteousness cannot be accomplished on our own but through dependency on God.

God can make us righteous and blameless through our humility. So I guess our paths can potentially be made perfectly straight!

My idea of a straight path is like drawing a line with a ruler. It’s straight and has no curve or angle to it.

Is it possible for the straight path of the blameless to have some bumps and curves? Because if I look at my Christian friends who love God and desire to do His will then the so-called straight path has been lined with disappointment, fear, anger, tears, joy, endurance, change, periods of waiting, frustration, success, spiritually dry periods, loneliness and challenge. This, to me doesn’t seem like a perfectly straight path.

What does it really mean that God will make our paths straight?

Reading these few verses as a young person messed with my idea of what my future should look like: a perfectly straight path. But as I reflected more on Proverbs 11:5 I came to realize that for years I was staring at my feet when I should have read these verses with my eyes. The pathway my feet travel on has ups and downs but the tunnel in which my eyes see is an unwavering straight path right to the face and heart of God. When our eyes are fixed on God the things of earth straighten out.

Your feet walk the path shaped with twists and turns but you tunnel your vision on God and He will straighten your outlook and change your perception so that whatever comes your way you will know that God is working all things out for the good.

hallwayTake for example Moses. Hebrews 11 lists many individuals that had a call and yet didn’t see complete fulfillment of that call in their lifetime.These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39-40)

Moses was special. He was no ordinary child. He had an important call on his life but despite his ‘call’ or being ‘special’ Moses allowed himself to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25). His lifestyle choice doesn’t necessarily look like what I thought a ‘straight path’ should be. “He regards disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:26-27). The footpath he chose was rough but his sight was straight on the invisible.

When we realize that we walk with God on a roadway of ups and downs our outlook changes. *The author of “How To Walk With God” puts it this way,  “…it is not about getting God into rhythm with us; it is getting ourselves into rhythm with Him. That is what it means to walk with God.”

It seems to me that even though I may have dreams and/or a sense of calling on my life God will use the bumps, curves, twists and turns to straighten my vision and help me to walk in rhythm with Him. Moses and many others, both past and present day, walk(ed) a rough road for something greater than themselves.

So back to the questions: What was your childhood dream? Was/Is this dream connected to a deep sense of calling? Now try not to focus on the specifics or have tunnel vision around the fulfillment of the calling. If your focus is on your feet (the bumps, twists, turns and curves in your life) then lift your focus to look at God who will take away your worries, fears and anxieties, and make a straight path to His face and heart. Don’t let go of that dream/calling but rather find delight in walking in rhythm with God and know that He is working all things out for good (Romans 8:28).

snowymountains
A straight path is not without bumps and turns but is easy to walk when our focus is on God who makes even the roughest roads straight. – MB

PICS by thesoulwhispersblog author

*Resources: http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/explore-the-bible/how-to-walk-with-god-11643683.html