I’m going to tell you something I shared with a group of writers and other creative people last week. We were in Oregon, seated in a church where the pews were of the wooden variety, and these pews formed a semi-circle inside the sanctuary. There was a balcony and we were packed in there—some of us fanning ourselves to stave off the warmth that seemed to settle down on us from the soaring ceiling overhead. It was late, and, in this body I’d carried with me from Nebraska to the Pacific Northwest, I was two hours later.
“Talk about risk,” Cornelia said to me, when she invited me to speak to this group gathered in a sanctuary near the shores of the Pacific Ocean. I’d laughed to myself, because, isn’t it all risk? That first letter we type in response to the cursor? That first word we speak from the podium? The first stroke of the brush on canvas? The results of the pregnancy test? The hand on the doorknob of the room where the interview will take place? The lacing up of the running shoe? The knife slicing through all those layers of an onion? Who knows how any of it will turn out?
And what if none of it goes the way we planned it? Can we hold risk loosely? Can we—can I—let God lead the way?
Just a few days before I pulled on my cowboy boots and scanned my boarding pass at the airport to fly to Oregon, I started reading an advance copy of Laura Boggess‘ upcoming book, “Playdates With God.” And the next day, a beautiful thing happened. I emailed Laura to tell her about it. I shared the story with the audience in that church where the pews formed a semi-circle, and I’m sharing it here with you. Because we all need to follow God off the path every now and then.
Recently, I went to eat dinner by myself at one of my favorite little restaurants in town. It’s got a cool vibe, great music (i.e., Adele and Bruno Mars), and really good food. H had a meeting, so I went alone and took Laura’s book with me.
I was savoring….
After some time and pages had passed, and after my plate had been long emptied, I looked up from the book and realized “Broken Hallelujah” was playing through the speakers in the ceiling. Through the picture window, and across the parking lot, I could see the setting sun reflected on the building across the way—like someone had built a campfire, and the glow was being cast upon the bricks. I nearly cried—my heart all folded open because of the words in this book.
The next morning, I read a few words in the bible. Just a few. I couldn’t read more because God kept telling me I should get on the treadmill. I’d just run the night before and surely this morning would be too soon, I thought. But he persisted, and so I did. Once on the treadmill, I had permission to just walk for a bit. And then, an urging to stop walking and do a few squats. Then, back on the treadmill to walk for a bit, while listening to my Israel Houghton station on Pandora. This went on for a while, each action a response to God’s invitation to me.
After a few cycles of walking and squatting, God said, “Come outside with me. I have something to show you.” By now, I was trusting him. Mostly, because he hadn’t made me run on the treadmill. I got my camera and found the battery needed charging. I plugged it in while I put on warmer clothes. When I went to gather up the camera and the battery, God said, “No camera. Just take the dog.”
Santana and I walked through the neighborhood. We rounded a corner and started across a tiny bridge—a footpath over a small, frozen stream of water. I paused at the highest point on that bridge and leaned into the crosshatch of the fence to gaze at the frozen stream below me. And God said, “Come closer.” So I did. Santana and I made our way across the bridge and down the bank and stood on a concrete slab overlooking the giant pipe through which water trickled from some other water source, into the main artery of the stream. I could hear the trickle. It sounded like spring.
And God said, “Come closer.” So we did. We tested the ground beneath us as we gingerly made our way right up to the water’s edge and there…well…I don’t think I can describe it. Water trickling beneath the ice and pooling in round pockets that looked like something I’d see under a microscope. And all of it like crystal, or glass. More beautiful than I could ever imagine.
In my heart, I heard a whisper that said to me, “Spring is coming,” with an exclamation mark.
“I never would have seen all this,” I said out loud to God, and a bird sent her affirmation from the evergreen tree.
“God loves us so much, Santana,” I said. She looked up at me with those big, brown eyes of hers, seeing something more than I’ll ever be able to comprehend. I don’t think I was telling her anything she didn’t already know.
We stood there, Santana and me. Soaking it in. Thanking God. Both of us, so very glad we’d said yes.
With gratitude, to Cornelia Seigneur, and the Faith and Culture Writers crew. Linking up today with Laura.