Do You Hear What I Hear?

Why was our dog shaking so badly under my desk? That’s a safe place. Mo likes to be close to me, and I was working at my desk.

Then I remembered the day our smoke alarm went off. Its shrill sound so frightened Mo, he ran out of our garage and all around our neighborhood. It took a long, scary time to corral him and get him calmed down. (Read about that day in my August 13, 2016, post.)

My computer tower is next to my desk, less than two feet from where Mo was sitting . . . and trembling. Dogs hear some high-pitched sounds we do not hear. I became convinced Mo was hearing a high-pitched sound from my computer that I could not hear.

Moses - Mo
Mo, in a more comfortable place.

This turned into another spiritual lesson I learned from my dog. There are sounds some people hear but others do not. Those sounds sometimes bring us joy and sometimes cause fear in us, as that mystery sound did for Mo.

These sounds of joy or fear do not always go unheard because they are beyond the frequency of our hearing. We may not hear them because we are unaware there are spiritual sounds, or we are deaf to them. The fact that God would want to communicate with us might have never crossed our minds.

I’m not suggesting we listen for actual voices. There are real communications that are not literal. God is continually speaking sounds of hope, peace, joy and love, but God often speaks in whispers; I have experienced them as distinct impressions. I’ve heard these sounds so many times. They are sounds that, when perceived, let us inhale grace. If we take them to heart, we will exhale gratitude.

There is a fascinating account of Elijah’s life recorded in the Old Testament Book of 1 Kings. Elijah is discouraged, defeated, feeling alone, thinking his life might as well be over. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah. It doesn’t say how Elijah heard that word, only that he heard it.

What did Elijah hear? “‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” (1Kings 19:11-12)

In that gentle whisper, God spoke to Elijah. Others might not have heard what Elijah heard, much as I did not hear what frightened our dog heard under my desk. Too often, I have not heard God’s whisper because I was distracted by the noise around me.

On the first Christmas, most people who had come to Bethlehem to pay their taxes did not hear what happened on that eventful night. The God of the universe had come to that little town, but Jesus entered quietly. Shepherds tending their sheep in the fields heard about it, but many others did not. Lowly, despised-by-many, shepherds were tuned to angel sounds and heard the good news.

How many times have we missed a sound of hope, guidance, encouragement or joy because we were unaware that God communicates, and we weren’t paying attention? Instead, we have heard the negative noise and been discouraged and felt hopeless?

For what or to whom are you listening?

Do you hear what I hear?

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

Coincidence? Not in My Book

It was the middle of the night and sleep was escaping me. Isn’t it strange how an issue that is small in the daytime can loom large in the wee hours of the morning? It was one of those nights.

I was facing surgery in a few days. It wasn’t a life threatening surgery. It was a bilateral hernia repair I hoped would relieve some major discomfort I was having. It would be my fourth surgery, so it was not a new experience. So why the worry? Reason is little help in times like these. It was the unknown, a different kind of surgery and the thought of going under anesthetic again. Flipping back and forth between trusting God and worry, the more I thought about it that night, the bigger it grew, the greater the uncertainty, the more I experienced what I have come to know as anticipation anxiety.

At last I fell back to sleep, but the morning came before I was rested. The anxiety lingered and puzzled me, since I had traveled this road before.

We had gotten home late the night before, so we got up later than usual, and my first chore is always to take the dog on a potty walk. Then when we get back to the house I feed him. But that morning, because it was late, I knew he was hungry so I fed him before we went out. As we stepped out on our driveway I could see someone down the street. In the distance I thought it was the man who had done some painting for us. He is a strong believer, loves to read, and he is an avid fisherman, so we hit it off. I waved to him and when he waved back, I was convinced he was who I thought it was. He got in his truck and when he pulled onto our street, he stopped to visit.

“What’s new?” he asked.

“Well, I haven’t been fishing lately,” I responded. I told him about taking our grandson fishing this summer and what a grand time we had. Then, because it was stealing my thoughts, I added, “I’m going to have surgery on Monday, a bilateral hernia repair.”

“Oh, I had that surgery in January of 2016,” he blurted. Then pointed to our neighbor’s house and said, “It was their son-in-law who did my surgery.”

“That’s who will do my surgery,” I chimed in, intrigued.

“He’s a genuine Christ-follower,” he observed.

“Yes, he is,” I agreed, “He prayed with me after he diagnosed what was going on.”

“I got along just great,” he told me enthusiastically, “didn’t even take prescription pain killers.” He explained that he simply took the over-the-counter stuff for pain.

We continued to chat for a few more minutes, as I stood in the breezy cold amazed at what he was telling me.

When I went back into the house, I said to Mary, “Boy I just had a God-sighting!” That’s what I call an experience when it is abundantly clear that God showed up.

Was it coincidence that we happened to get home later than we expected the night before? Was it coincidence that we slept a little later than usual? Was it coincidence that I broke my pattern and fed our dachshund before we went outside, putting me in just the right spot on the driveway to see my painter friend walk out of the distant house at just the right time so he could see my wave? Was it coincidence that he told me the details about his surgery – the same surgery I was to have in two days – with the same surgeon? Why did he tell me how it all turned out, exactly what I needed to hear to put my anxiety to rest? Coincidence?

Call it what you want but I know what/WHO it was. Someone said, “Coincidence is an experience in which God chose to remain anonymous.”

My friend didn’t know I needed to hear what he told me that morning. Though I did tell him, “God sent you here.”

In case you’re wondering, I did come out of the anesthetic. Everyone on the medical team took good care of me. The surgeon prayed with Mary and me before he operated on me. He found a little more work was needed than anticipated, but he skillfully took care of it all.

That was two weeks ago and I’m doing very well. I got along great, just as my friend, Todd, did. I didn’t have to take any of the heavy duty drugs for pain, but got along fine with over-the counter meds. In my post-op visit, my surgeon said everything looked great and I was right where I should be at that point.

God showed up on our sidewalk on that cold, windy morning to bring me the peace only God knew I needed. That morning I inhaled grace, and I exhaled gratitude.