Welcome to the first-ever Hear It, Use It community at Graceful! I've been writing these Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday posts for just over a year now. It's been a fruitful way for me to take what I've heard either in the reading on Sunday or in the sermon, ponder it a bit as I walk through my day, and then write a reflection. The process helps solidify the message and makes me more inclined to take it with me throughout the rest of the week...and beyond!
With some gentle prodding from my friend Kim, I decided to launch a link-up community around the Hear It, Use It theme (knees knocking!). I welcome you to blog about what you are hearing from God, how he is whispering (or yelling!) to you and how his words are impacting your life. Feel free to write about what you hear in church on Sunday or a verse that you've been reading or pondering on your own during the week. Also feel free to come back a bit later in the week to link-up if you are not quite ready now (I'll leave the Linky open until Friday).
A few housekeeping details: please link to your actual Hear It, Use It post, not just to your general blog address. That way if readers come by later in the week, they can pop directly over to your relevant post. Please also link back to this community, either by using the button (located to the right in the sidebar) or simply a text link. And lastly, try to visit others in the community to offer encouragement – and to hear what God might be saying to you there, too!
Lastly, a huge smiling thank you to both readers and linkers – you give me the courage to launch this endeavor!
I felt pretty cocky the morning I hoisted my pregnant self into the front seat of the U-Haul, rolled down the window and waved goodbye to my parents and best friend. I was sad, sure, but I was also smug. My husband and I were adventurous: we weren’t content to settle into the same-old, same-old. No, we were taking to the open road, heading over hills and plains toward Nebraska and a brand-new life. I felt like a pioneer, bouncing on the springy truck seat like a bonneted wife on the wagon bench.
The first three weeks or so in Nebraska were great. We painted the baby’s nursery, stocked up on diapers and hung the mobile over the crib. I ate barbeque ribs for the first time, avoided gargantuan grasshoppers that sprung from the hostas and spent afternoons reading beside Blue Stem Lake.
And then came the baby. Noah wasn’t at all what I'd expected. Instead of a burbling bundle of sweet-smelling joy, I got a red-faced, scrunched, screeching howler monkey. I had birthed my worse fear: a colicky baby. Noah cried non-stop, a high-pitched, hyperventilating wailing that simply would not cease, no matter what we did to comfort him.
To make matters worse, two days after we got home from the hospital, Brad went to work. And so I was left alone with the howler, day in and day out in an unfamiliar city, an unfamiliar state, an unfamiliar landscape, my family 1,500 miles away and not a single friend within 600 miles.
Like Jonah, I found myself in the midst of a violent storm. And like Jonah, I refused to acknowledge the root of that storm and chose instead to bury my head in the sand:
"Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep." (Jonah 1:4-5)
Like Jonah, I ignored God. In my defense, I’d been ignoring him for decades so it wasn't a departure from normal behavior on my part. The difference, though was that my disregard for God hadn't mattered before the move to Nebraska. Back then I was firmly in control.
It wasn’t until I was stripped of my securities – my place, my family, my friends, my home, my job and my self-worth – and was left vulnerable and defenseless that I began my slow turn toward God.
At first I tried to fix the problem myself. I enrolled in a yoga class, took up scrapbooking and attended mom’s club meetings at a local church. I filled my life with more and more stuff, more and more distractions, and then wondered why I still felt such loneliness and despair. Finally, worn and defeated, I succumbed to depression.
I’d like to say that my return to God was dramatic, a lightning-strike realization that only God could save me from my reeling hopelessness. But it wasn’t. It was painfully slow. So slow, in fact, that I didn’t even realize it was happening at the time. It wasn’t until much later that I looked back at those early years in Nebraska, and realized that although I hadn’t even considered asking God for help, he’d intervened nonetheless.
The fact is, I was Jonah – pig-headed, self-reliant and utterly in control. Until I wasn't, that is; until things fell apart and the wind blew in gale-force fury and the seas erupted in frothy tumult. In the end it wasn't a fish that got me. The great plains of Nebraska swallowed me whole. And I was spit back out believing, redeemed and reborn.
Your turn – link up your post below...I can't wait to read how God is speaking to you this week! [Note: if you are here to link up or to check out the other participants, and you see nothing below, it's because I am having trouble with the Linky -- or, I should say, Mr. Linky is having trouble with his new server! I apologize. This is my life, people...I start a new linky community on the exact same day the Linky Man goes to a new server...and has trouble!]