Posted by: liturgicalyear | November 23, 2010

“Do whatever he tells you” (Jn2:5) – Part 2

Gulf Shores, AL: Sunrise in GulfshoresThis story continues from my post of last Thursday, where I wrote about how we can listen to Jesus’ voice and do whatever he tells us.  Here, I present part 2, which was never intended from the beginning, but something I want to share.  It begins last Thursday afternoon…

I was on my way to an appointment two towns away, taking the most direct route – route 114.

Now, what you have to understand is that Route 114 is one of those roads.  You know them.  You’ve been on them – the roads that never end: a twelve mile stretch of pavement between 2 major highways occupied by catatonic drivers who go into autopilot when their wheels roll onto the blacktop.  It can be heaven, or it can be hell.  If you time it just right, you can sail along, but other times you may hit every construction site, every light and every slow poke on the road.  The latter occurred to me on Thursday.

It started with my attempt to get onto 114.  Lunchtime traffic.  A long wait to take a left turn onto the roadway.    

Then there were the two trucks, one in front of the other as the road narrowed from two lanes to one – a construction dump truck and an 18 wheeler container truck.  Both slow.  Both in front of me.  I picked up my beads & started to pray. One of them turned off.  Excellent!

Then I hit the construction site.  Slow going, but I made it through without too much of a delay.  The one truck in front of me turned off shortly after. I could go the speed limit.   Excellent! 

Sailing along, I caught up to the slow poke, who had previously been at least a half a mile ahead of me.  He drove ten mph below the speed limit with one car between us.  Two solid yellow lines.  No passing.  No advancing to “Go”.  No collecting $200.

I decided to check in on a  friend who was sick.  I picked up my phone to call, which used to be a fairly easy task, but is no more.  My husband gave me an iPhone for my birthday.  Content with the phone I had, I need no fancy stuff – just a phone. But he thought it was time for something new.  Well…I was used to dialing by feel, but I can’t do that on the new phone because it’s a flat surface – everything feels the same.  I decided to use the voice control. 

That’s when it got interesting.  Somehow, instead of dialing the phone, my voice activated the iPod, and it played a Michael W. Smith’s “Above All”.  Not what I expected, but OK with me.  I love music.  I’ll just forget the phone call and sing.  God must want me to praise Him in song. 

When that song was done, I used the voice control again to ask for “Draw Me Close to You” by the same artist.  Somehow I ended up with an “Oceano” by Josh Groban. I laughed out loud.  Three more attempts yielded the same results to no avail. 

I decided to ask for a different song.  I don’t remember the name of it, but I do remember that when “Dive” by Stephen Curtis Chapman played, I chuckled because that title wasn’t even close.

Meanwhile, I’m still crawling along 114.  The warm sun and the cool air motivated me to crank the tune nice and loud and enjoy this extended time in the car.  I inched along that endless corridor tapping my steering wheel to the remarkable percussion of the music.

It assaulted me again – the slow creep on the asphalt.  I would be late.  My mind went back to what I had written earlier in the day.   “How do we hear his voice?”  I wrote that one of the ways is through the ordinary events of our day.  So, I took my own advice and asked God, “What are you trying to teach me through this roadblock?” 

The answers were immediate and clear: patience and self-control.  I was fighting impatience, deciding to enjoy the music rather than get annoyed at the “idiots” in front of me.  The source of the impatience, though, was my own lack of discipline.  I left the house too late.  I often do.  It’s a bad habit.  Sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn’t.  But whether it matters or not is irrelevant.  What matters is how I value the other, and how I value and respect their time.  I was convicted (yet again) right then and there of the need to grow in self-discipline.  I do know that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.  Therefore, I need to cooperate with God to grow in this fruit.  I need his grace.

I thought, “Thank you, Lord, for speaking so clearly to me!”  He does speak, and we do hear His voice.  Now I have to do what He tells me.  For that, I decide, and I pray. 

Then it happened.  The song changed to the next one on the album I didn’t ask for:   “Speechless” by Stephen Curtis Chapman.  I joined in singing the lyrics:

Words fall like drops of rain
My lips are like clouds
I say so many things
Trying to figure you out
But as mercy opens my eyes
My words are stolen away
With this breathtaking view of your grace

And I am speechless I’m astonished and amazed
I am silenced by your wondrous grace
You have saved me
You have raised me from the grave
And I am speechless in your presence now
I’m astounded as I consider how
You have shown us
A love that leaves us speechless

 As I sang at the top of my lungs, tears filled my eyes when I sang these words:

So what kind of love could this be
That would trade heaven’s throne for a cross
And to think you still celebrate
Over finding just one who was lost
And to know you rejoice over us
The God of this whole universe
It’s a story that’s too great for words

Oh how great is the love
The father has lavished upon us
That we should be called
The sons and the daughters of god

Grasping the intimacy with which God knows and loves us melts me.  It surrounds me and suffocates me.  It is breathtaking. 

You see, about 12 years ago, I went for a period of 2 to 3 years where I felt and heard almost nothing in prayer.  Nothing.  Faith told me He was there, but my senses and my spirit could not find Him. It was empty.  It was lonely.  It was full of doubt.  Consolations were sparse and indiscernible.  When I spoke with my spiritual director about it, he said, “Keep praying.  It is when you feel absolutely nothing that you truly pray in faith.”  Those days were hard.  So now when God speaks so clearly and directly to me in a way that is undeniable, I am brought to tears, brought to praise, and brought to my knees.  I am speechless!

Experiencing the tenderness God has for His Children, and that which is between my loving Father and me personally, leaves me standing in humility before Him…speechless.  Even my bad habits of impatience and tardiness are known to Him, and He wants to root them out so that I can grow in love, so that I can love the other as He does – because He loved first.

As we move forward into Advent I share with you two scripture verses, encouraging you to be thankful for His presence and to recall the times in your life when He has left you speechless.  Pray that during this Advent, as we prepare to receive our Lord and Savior yet again, you will experience His tender mercies anew. 

  • “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”  (Ps 103:1)
  • “…I will call this to mind, as my reason to have hope: The favors of the LORD are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; they are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness.”  (Lam 3:21-23)

Would you join me to today, in listening to the Speechless and contemplating the lyrics standing before our Redeemer speechless, astonished and amazed.

Silently, Anne

 

Speechless by Steven Curtis Chapman

Words fall like drops of rain
My lips are like clouds
I say so many things
Trying to figure you out
But as mercy opens my eyes
My words are stolen away
With this breathtaking view of your grace

And I am speechless I’m astonished and amazed
I am silenced by your wondrous grace
You have saved me
You have raised me from the grave
And I am speechless in your presence now
I’m astounded as I consider how
You have shown us
A love that leaves us speechless

So what kind of love could this be
That would trade heaven’s throne for a cross
And to think you still celebrate
Over finding just one who was lost
And to know you rejoice over us
The God of this whole universe
It’s a story that’s too great for words

Oh how great is the love
The father has lavished upon us
That we should be called
The sons and the daughters of god

We are speechless so amazed
We stand in awe of your grace
We stand in awe of your mercy
You have saved us
We stand in awe of your love
From the grave
We are speechless

We are speechless in your presence now
We stand in awe of your cross
We’re astounded as we consider how
We stand in awe of your power
You have shown us
A love that leaves us speechless
We are speechless

I am speechless

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Responses

  1. moving and inspiring…yet again! Thank you Anne!

    • Twila Paris has a song called, “I Never Get Used to What You Do”. I ditto that. God bless you, Anne


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