Thursday, February 19, 2009

Going on a Walk

[The message behind my post today:
Christians and non-Christians alike--and, well, people of all faiths and probably even atheists if they're honest about it--struggle often with this question: How does God speak to me? We can't quite grasp the concept of how a God who is Somewhere Out There can communicate with those of us who are Wandering Around Down Here. Although I am still young (relatively speaking!), and I'm sure my clueless-ness will be revealed more and more as I get older and older, I do know that I hear from God. I have this really cool sense of Him walking with me through all the mazes and decisions and "what's going on here?" moments I often have. And I have this sense that God speaks--to all of us--by utilizing several channels. He talks through...other people, my own experiences, words (written and spoken), reassuring moments inside of me, even that little voice inside my head. And He especially likes the concept of Epiphany. He likes to reach me through moments that others might label as "coincidence."]

So, yeah.

Maybe I can communicate this message in the way I try to do it best. With some stories ...

~ Back in November, I was asked to be a leader on a spiritual weekend called "The Walk to Emmaus" (a three-day reatreat, for either men or women, that strives to draw you closer to Christ; Gary and I have both been on it and find it be one of the most meaningful spiritual things we've ever done). When the weekend's lay leader, Delle, asked me to do one of the Walk's talks (there are 13 talks on all sorts of spiritual topics), I literally squealed and jumped up and down; ever since going on my own Walk (all the way back in 2000), I'd wanted to be asked to do a talk. I'd never been asked, but here was my opportunity.

When she told me the dates, though, my heart sank. It was scheduled for the same weekend as our church's annual Family Life Retreat (we just call it "Camp"), which is literally our favorite weekend of the year. I told Delle I would pray about it, and get back to her.

I wanted so badly to serve on the Walk, but felt pulled by this favorite family tradition of ours. I hate to miss out on any special times with Sydney while she is still young (and she LOVES going to camp!), and how would Gary feel about having to be the sole parent there? I prayed about it and sorta stewed on it, not telling anyone yet about my quandary. I guess I was too afraid what they would say. Then, Delle called me one afternoon to ask me if I'd made up my mind yet. I wavered again and told her I was still praying about it. I didn't think I'd heard an answer yet about what I should do.

When I got off the phone, I told Gary for the first time about it. And what was his response? "Go," he said. "Don't even think twice about it. You can go back to camp next year, but nothing will be like this experience. And you'll regret it if you don't go." Gary had served on a music team for two men's Walks and knew how powerful it was to be involved in it like I'd be.

That was all the impetus I needed. I told Gary I loved him, called Delle back, and she told me that she was going to give Gary a big ole hug the next time she saw him. Thank God for a husband who understands, and is willing to be God's megaphone.

~ Once I knew what my talk's topic was (Delle gave me "Growth through Study," which turned out to be really perfectly suited for me), I was a bit blocked on what stories I was going to use in it. (Speakers are encouraged to use a lot of personal stories, to make the points hit home with the attendees.) While everyone else got their talks written, I just kept thinking and thinking about it, and procrastinating a little bit. But I just knew that God would give me the stories He wanted me to use.

Imagine my joy, then, when I had an experience with Sydney that just fit perfectly with my talk. You may remember was the morning when I was so angry and Sydney had me read from First Corinthians to her. (I shared it in THIS POST with you.) That story is now the introduction for my talk, and it works perfectly!

~ All speakers on the Walk get to select a special "speaker song" to be sung as they enter the room. The song often goes along with the theme of the talk, or it has special meaning to the speaker. Even though there are so many songs that I love, I just couldn't find one that really seemed to fit with me yet. After one of our team meetings, I prayed that God would give me the right song.

The next morning at church, I looked at the bulletin and saw that the opening hymn would be "Morning Has Broken." As soon as I saw those words, I knew that it was my speaker song! It's my very favorite hymn (mostly because I grew up singing the Cat Stevens version with my Dad), but we don't sing it very often (maybe two or three times a year); it's also perfect for my talk, because I speak on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. It's first thing in the morning!

~ As I have prepared for the Walk this weekend (I'm leaving in a matter of minutes!), I was most concerned about the girls. I shouldn't have been worried about McKenna and Delaney; they will be doing fun, youth things all weekend and will barely miss me. Sydney, though, was another story, and I waited until yesterday to tell her that I wouldn't be at Camp with her. I guess God had prepared her, though, because she didn't cry...she said she'd be fine and would have fun with her Daddy. I had prayed so hard about her reaction, and look how quickly God answered my concerns?

So, now...I am about to head out the door on my weekend adventure. I am already anticipating the music and the new friends and the wonderful experience that is sure to be waiting there. And I absolutely know that I will hear God's voice. I am anticipating it and expect it, and will grab hold of it when it arrives.


Lynilu said...

Vaya con dios (as if there were any other way!), Cheryl.

Adrienne said...

Awww you will have a wonderful time!

hippo chick said...

As thrilled as I am for you, I am just a little jealous. It sounds so wonderful - so perfectly YOU.

~hippo hugs~

Auburn Kat said...

I hope you have a wonderful time! It sounds like an incredible experience! Enjoy it!

Sheila said...

I'm sure you will have a beautiful time.

Monogram Queen said...

Cheryl those people would have sorely missed out if you had NOT done it! I'm so glad you did!