At this writing, I’ve just come in from sitting on my patio before going to church on a beautiful Sunday morning. I mean B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. The sky has been swept clean (wish I could say that about my patio…), the birds are singing, the sun is coming up over the horizon, the trees are sporting their new greenery—I even have some new things planted in my garden. And I had a special treat this morning—two Canada geese flew overhead! Great!
That’s the question that came into my mind early one morning as my attention was drawn away from the task at hand while sitting at my “outside desk”. This is a fairly frequent occurrence…not the voice, mind you, but the diversion from the task at hand. The variety and beauty of God’s creation, even in my little back yard, is amazingly distracting! My eyes are consistently opened to new experiences about, well, anything that grows. I can recognize a few of the birds; that is, more than the robin and the cardinal—those were staples even in my limited aviary repertoire when I was a kid back in Indiana. Now I can add several more, just by observing and looking them up in my husband’s very old (but not obsolete!) Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds that he has saved since his high school years. In addition that, I am even beginning to identify some of their songs—the catbird, for instance. I was able to point out that peculiar sound for my daughter when she was home visiting. She actually thought there was a cat nearby!
On this particular morning, here was an exquisite song! And a fairly new one for me. The problem was that the sun was only thinking about waking up, so it was still too dark for me to see the singer.
“Do you want to see the bird?”
Now, was that really God’s voice? Or was I just thinking it? Either way, as I was looking intently for the source of the song, it looked as if the bird had already flown away. Okay, so that was a disappointment. But the bird’s premature departure moreover presented me with a mildly perplexing challenge: if, indeed, God had spoken to me about this lovely part of His creation, why had He not shown it to me when it was in His power to do so? He is not Someone Who holds a piece of candy in front of us only to cruelly take it away, of this much I was confident. From cover to cover in the Bible, the basic foundation of all life is the understanding that God is love, (1). This truth assures me that even the disappointments in my life, whether large or small, have both reason and purpose that are founded in His love for me. These higher plans of God to work in my disappointing circumstances, and sometimes in the especially painful ones, also include what He desires to accomplish through me to benefit others.
Then it hit me. (I can be a little slow on the uptake, but thankfully not this time.) There are times when God, in His loving wisdom, does not immediately provide for my request, at least in the way that I am requesting it. It seems that one of the divine reasons for this apparent refusal, which may be merely a delay rather than a flat out “no”, is so that I can see for myself just how badly I want what I am requesting.
This, then, is the gift that is often times greater than my original request—
that God would show me myself: the true reasons for my desires, unearthing any selfish ambition that lies hidden beneath years of impoverished thinking. (2) It may that I need to be shown my motivation in requesting the gift, which may need to be reworked, (the motivation, that is, not necessarily the request itself), before I can be on the receiving end. (3)
that the gift of waiting would stimulate and produce in me a more clearly defined and better focused desire (4).
that He would prepare my heart and situation to properly receive from Him. (5) I am reminded of what kind of king the Jewish people of Jesus’ day were looking for, and because of their expectations, many missed Him completely. (6)
that I would learn to keep seeking, keep asking, keep knocking. (7) One of the characteristics of true faith is its persistence.
that I would keep trusting His love to provide what He feels is best. (8)
Actually, the end result—or I should say, the intended main objective—is intimate relationship with God. At least, that’s God’s main objective. Which means it would behoove me to make it mine as well.
I’m still not sure what that bird was. Maybe a warbler or a wren. It matters not, because I hope I have received the greater gift, not of connecting with the singer, but of connecting with the Voice.