Why do we have to go away—go into the wilderness—go where we are completely unplugged—to hear God?
But sometimes, I do.
Maybe it’s because God whispers?
Maybe it’s because God would rather not shout?
Maybe it’s because I let myself get too busy—let my mind get so cluttered—let my life get so full of everything BUT him that there’s no room in the “inn” FOR him—in my mind, my heart, my soul?
So he calls me to quiet places.
He invites me to walk with him on the trails of our Midwestern horse farm.
Last week, I walked with him on the shore of islands, up the slopes of mountains, through the green of valleys—all in Alaska.
We arrived in the rain.
A downpour, blurring our vision. Wet sheets spread blinders across windshield and side glass. Wipers couldn’t move fast enough. Our campsite nearly flooded as mountain streams bulged, overflowing into low.
Great! We come all this way and we’re socked in with clouds and rain and floods!
Like I’m so special that the weather should cooperate, just for me!
I really didn’t expect to be humbled on my vacation, but my prideful self was a bit spanked, I admit.
So, I decided to practice gratitude instead of complaint and I thanked God for the conditions.
I wondered . . .
Do I thank God in every condition of life?
Do I thank God for every situation of life?
Because let’s face it . . .
Some situations are downright downpours, dampening if not drenching our spirits and we wonder where God is and what he’s doing in such times and spaces.
I’ve asked God to let certain “cups” pass me by.
But then, I remember . . .
God’s ways are not our ways. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8)
This I know.
So, after my lament, I submit. God’s ways are better than mine.
As hard and as dark as life can get, God has a holy plan. God’s in control.
I believe. So I have peace.
Even in the hard.
But get THIS!
God gives some of the greatest blessing in the valleys—in the rain—in the downright deluges of our days!
Toward the end of a 12-hour bus tour to the end of the road—the genuine end of the only road that runs through Denali National Park—I dared to ask God for something.
Yes. I was bold.
First, I thanked God for all the gifts he had given me and my fellow sojourners on the bus that day—the many wondrous sightings of grizzlies (some with cubs!) and caribou and Dall sheep. But we hadn’t see a moose—my husband’s favorite animal. So I prayed, 11.75 hours into our tour. Fifteen minutes ‘til finished.
Oh God, could you PLEASE let us see a MOOSE?
No kidding . . .
Less than five minutes passed when someone in the back of the bus yelled, “MOOSE!”
Unfortunately, the bus driver didn’t hear his call and kept driving.
We MISSED our MOOSE!
I prayed and I MISSED GOD’S GIFT?!
So I gave thanks anyway, grateful that God gave a moose sighting to someone else on the bus.
I realized again that the most wonderful gift I have ever received is the gift of Jesus who died for me—who paid the penalty for all my sin—all my imperfection—all that COSTS in a JUST universe.
I realized again that I could want for nothing better than that old rugged cross that dripped Christ’s blood instead of mine—that caused me to be able to talk with my eternal Creator because of his restorative work on wood, pierced with iron.
I sat peacefully, head resting on window blurred.
And then . . .
Not more than TWO minutes later . . .
Leaning on the bus window, veined with rain . . .
I looked out . . .
And what did I SEE, blurred ‘til I slammed down the window?
The most gorgeous wolf I had ever seen (and I’ve only seen them in photographs) came trotting along the side of the road toward our bus.
Adrenaline raced through my whole body as I screamed, “WOLF! TWELVE O’CLOCK!”
This time, the bus driver needed no prompt to stop. She SAW the wolf!
Hands shaking with excitement, I pulled out my camera, leaned out my window and got THIS . . .
You really caused me NOT to see a moose and caused a WOLF to come instead—which just happens to be MY favorite wild animal?
Some naysayers might say this was coincidence.
Some might say I’m just about getting gifts from God—that I only love him for what he gives.
Some might suppose I’m a “name it and claim it” Christian . . .
But my kids know my motto, spoken probably a million times over the course of their lives . . .
There’s no such thing as coincidence.
God sees all. God knows all. God directs all.
I’m learning to THANK HIM for ALL—the “good” and the “bad” and all in-between.
ALL is GIFT.
I’m learning, more and more, to give thanks in ALL circumstances. Because ALL God allows is good, in the end.
Yes, I prayed for a moose.
And a moose wasn’t for me to see.
Then, a WOLF?
How much FUN I had praising God for THIS gift, never even thought up in my mind!
And along with the wolf, I was reminded that the BEST gift is being able, because of Christ, to walk with God and talk with God in such an intimate manner that, just like a child, I can ask for anything, knowing that the BEST thing is the intimate relationship I have with my heavenly Father whose love I know and feel and trust, more than any other love in my life.
There is nothing so WILD as the WILD grace of God!
However God wants to give.
No matter how we perceive.
Always giving thanks.
Even when we thank through the veined rain of soul sorrow.
Because all God’s gifts are GOOD.
No matter how they look.
No matter how they feel.
Because our greatest gift is always God himself.
And God is always WITH us.
And THAT’S all that really matters.
God is all we REALLY want.
Think this is the end of the story? Just wait ’til next post! It will leave you marveling at the intimacy of God with us even more!