There have been a few times in my life when I deeply felt that God had put something on my heart.
A direction to go, or an impression of something I needed to pursue. Most of the times I have followed that leading, it has unfolded in a clear enough fashion to confirm that I was hearing correctly.
In December I shared here and on FB my desire to step back from as much “noise” as possible to really seek some quiet for this year. I had a deep impression again, a deep longing, that I thought was the Spirit prompting a direction again. I had a picture of reality for the coming year that felt right, and I was excited. I ended 2009 in the mountains of Colorado with peaceful mornings sipping coffee while gazing at snow-covered fields…and the desire for quiet settled easily on me.
The face of reality changed the day I flew back to Nashville. Mom fell down her stairs and broke her ankle as I was in flight. Dementia deepened with the trauma, as did her stubborn streak. January became a mixture of phone calls to calm mom and snow days that kept little ones filled with cabin fever, and my routine completely disrupted.
February was not much better, and just as we eased out of March and into April things began to settle. The desire for quiet hadn’t lessened, it just had to be shelved in the rush of the immediate needs. The desire came back stronger, and I really thought I was back on track. After another trip to NM, I fly back home into the midst of a flood. The road I drove home on late Saturday night was gone Sunday morning. The next face of reality showed itself, and this one isn’t leaving soon.
The facts of my reality this morning are that my freezer is filled with photographs I’m trying to salvage for Steve’s folks, and my guest room is filled with their dishes-washed, bleached and waiting to be packed away. Steve’s parent’s lives are turned upside down as they now face $80,000 to rebuild their home with no flood insurance at 75 years old. Reality for my dad is determined by my mom’s continued slip into dementia and whether she knows him in the moment or not.
“Facts as facts do not always create a spirit of reality, because reality is a spirit.” – G.K. Chesterton.
The facts I can tell you about the flood here in Nashville can’t create the reality for you….the reality here is marked by the spirit of the people around here. My reality is created not by the facts of my mom’s broken ankle or dementia, or Steve’s parent’s loss…it is created by the foundational fact that God exists and that He leads and directs and nudges and rebukes and corrects. And saves.
I still long deeply for quiet. I don’t think I completely missed what He was prompting in my heart, but I do think I got a little ahead of him and created a vision of what this year would look like. I was wrong. Fact is, I couldn’t have thought any of this up, wouldn’t want to. So, it’s time to regroup a little and try to hear again….maybe God is teaching me instead to understand finding quiet and peace in the midst of the chaos of our world.
There have been other times I thought I heard the direction of God and went for it, and was totally wrong.
I guess the reason for writing this today is to say it doesn’t matter too much. We follow the promptings and the leadings of the Spirit, but sometimes we mess up. Sometimes we hear something that is just a reality we hope for, or a reality we think we deserve. It’s not a bad thing to stop and admit we might have heard wrong.
I’m not suggesting we need to hear God for every turn in the road, or for every meal we eat. I am suggesting that He prompts things in us to prepare for where we are headed. I needed to understand and seek this sense of quiet to rest in Him so I can walk through all the emotionally intense things this year has brought in less than five months. Sometimes we’ll mess up, but that’s okay. It just teaches us to listen more carefully, and God uses our mess-ups as well. So…listen closely and follow boldly and don’t be afraid of messing up sometimes.