By Tammy Ellis
Feb. 24, 2013
I was feeling gloomy. Instead of grabbing another handful of chocolate chips, I drove to a small, nearby lake for a prayer walk.
When I arrived at Beck Lake, I plodded to the footpath that circled the water and began mindlessly firing my list of complaints into the air. Finally, my nasally whining became more than I could bear.
“Lord,” I prayed, “I don’t want to hear me today. I want to hear You. Please speak to me, and please speak loud and clear so I can hear You. My head is so full of babble that I … ”
Right then, a dazzling rock just up ahead caught my eye and interrupted my prayer. As I drew near, I saw the rock had a brilliant orange-and-yellow sunburst painted on it with the letters S-O-N printed across it.
I was totally blessed. At the mere thought of the Son, of Jesus, the Son of God, my gloom lightened. The storm in my mind calmed, and I had a sudden, wonderful sense that the Lord had just joined my walk.
Further up the path, I saw another rock, painted radiant blue, shouting a Psalm that said: “Give glory to the God of all glory!”
My skin burst into goose bumps. I raised my hands to the sky and laughed, thanking God for hearing me and answering me so loudly and clearly and quickly and for being so wonderful and even funny.
I loved the rocks! The first one made Jesus my focus, and my problems bowed at the knee. The second one reminded me God is still God, still glorious and praiseworthy, no matter what I am in the midst of.
As I was putting it all together, I saw a third painted rock. Excitedly, I hurried up to a pink one decorated with a tiny flower that said simply, “PRAY.” It directed me right back to where I had started, to praying. But now I was communing with God, not just whimpering into thin air. My nasally drone had become a cheerful song of praise, and my slow, heavy steps had become a dance.
I suddenly felt like a little girl on an Easter egg hunt, bounding along, heart hoping, eyes groping for more colorful treasures hidden in the grass. On the far side of the lake, I hit pay dirt! About every 10 feet, I found another promise from God emblazoned on stone. “By grace you have been saved.” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” “He is my Stronghold.” “He is my Rock.” And many others.
I don’t know who painted and positioned those delightful rocks along the path, but I do know they were inspired by God. And that day they ministered to me in just the way I needed. I even wondered if maybe, just maybe, the Lord himself had dashed around ahead of me, embellishing the stone tablets with His own finger. Curious, I touched one … and the paint was still wet.
The rocks are gone now. I don’t know if people took them home or just threw them into the water. But the messages remain, as does my absolute awe over how God showed up, answered my prayer, and rocked my world.
God reminded me that afternoon that He is always with me. I’m just not always with Him. He is always speaking to me. I’m just not always paying attention. Sometimes I’m scattered in half a dozen directions, leaving only a fraction of myself available to connect with Him. I need to pull myself together and seek Him with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength, not just with my measly leftovers. God promises in Jeremiah 29:13 that I will find Him when I seek Him wholeheartedly.
The Lord doesn’t always speak to me with signs and wonders and rocks. Sometimes, He speaks more softly from His Spirit to mine; sometimes, through Scripture, other people, creation or even daily circumstances. And, sometimes, He speaks through His silence.
God does whatever it takes to best help me hear Him. I believe God beckoned me to the lake that day. His Spirit ushered me to where I needed to be, inside and outside, to hear Him. He gave me the craving for Him, the desperate prayer, the hope and the faith to believe. He gave me creative, vivid messages to penetrate my clogged mind and the wisdom and insight to put it all together. He did everything on His end to show me His love and draw me into a deeper relationship with Him.
But there is another side as well, my side. It takes two to tango. Had I not responded to God’s leading and followed His steps, I would have missed that dance with Him. Had I believed the rocks were just something cute somebody painted and flung around the lake, instead of listening a little more closely and hearing God, that unique answer to my prayer might have brushed past me as mere coincidence.
I could have totally missed that encounter with the Lord and the thrill of experiencing His love and activity in my life. How very sad that would have been. I wonder how often that has happened to me in other life venues.
If God is speaking to me all the time, and I’m not hearing Him, I’m to blame. If I want to seek Him, find Him, know Him, and love Him, I first have to make the choice to believe what the Bible says: that God is always with me. Then, I must acknowledge His presence and choose to look for Him and listen for Him, intentionally and expectantly. If I’m aloof and oblivious, I may miss Him, right beside me, wondering where He is and why He is so distant.
If God is giving and loving with all His might, and our relationship is shallow, flimsy or nonexistent, it’s my fault. If one of us is holding back, it’s me, not God. Ultimately, I control the thermostat of our intimacy.
The Lord loves me so much more than I can hope or imagine or ever comprehend. He chooses to desire and pursue a close, personal relationship with me, even though I am so absent so often, and then blame Him for the sad state of our relationship. God showed me that day at the lake one more example of what lengths He is willing to go to to connect with me and make me feel understood, loved and precious.
I so enjoyed the rocks and that quest for every next word from God that I’m still hunting … but not just for His messages. I want Him. My ears are tuned. My eyes are darting to-and-fro. I’m single-minded and searching wholeheartedly with the same childlike passion, faith and joy that compelled me and propelled me around Beck Lake that day when the rocks cried out.
“But [Jesus] answered and said to [the Pharisees], ‘I tell you that if [My disciples] should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40, NKJV).
TAMMY ELLIS lives in Cody, Wyo.
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