Let me set the scene for you…
I was walking every evening around our high school track in the blessed town of Andrews, Texas. If you’ve never witnessed a West Texas sunset, shame on you. Get in your car now and go. It’s life giving. Those sunset views as I walked, along with a good playlist on my iPod helped…some. I was going through a less than wonderful time in my life…some diagnosed it a midlife crisis behind my back…when in all actuality the midlife crisis didn’t set in for a couple more years. That’s a whole ‘nother blog post. Life was coming in strong and the walks were an attempt to clear my mind and talk to God. I was confused and my mind was a tangled mess that I myself could not unravel. Trust me…I tried. I needed more than wine and a Pinterest Board of motivation and positive quotes. I needed The One who saw fit to plant me on earth in the first place.
I circled that track and circled that track asking God to speak to me. SAY SOMETHING! I DARE YOU! I would tell Him He could totally talk to me and I would keep it just between the two of us. I was politely offering God a safe place to be vocal. Surely He was tired of us making messes and all He could do was remain silent and hope for the best from the free will He bestowed upon us humans. I felt for Him. Probably hard to watch at times…so I was totally there for Him. I just knew He had some things to say to me but feared I would tell “the others” and then “the others” would feel like God loved me more. I would stay hush-hush. If not, it could easily be an all out Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors Revisited…jealousy would commence and neither of us had time for that.
Go ahead…speak. It’s cool…
The skies did not rumble. There wasn’t so much as a whisper in the wind. Night after night of mile walking and He never opened his mouth. He obviously didn’t trust me not to blog about it, so I offered Him the next best thing. Something less “Wow, God spoke to you?” and more “I thought He did that for me too one time!” I told God He could sky write my next move in the clouds. I would ask Him a question and while trying to beat the time on my next mile, I would look up and await His response. I steadily watched the clouds, but the clouds remained just clouds.
Over time my circumstances became heightened seeds of frustration and although I kept walking, I stopped looking up…stopped praying…stopped hoping…gave up.
I knew you could see it on my face. The apathy. The disdain. Those around me began asking with disturbing frequency how I was doing.
Great. Doing great. Thanks.
My pessimism had me convinced and certain they were asking so they would have something to talk about in this one horse town. If I told them how I really was…the battles I was facing…they would offer me some theology and bible verses…the lyrics to a song they heard on K-Love that moved them and was sure to move me.
Don’t want it. Keep it. Save it.
I was teaching journalism during this time and yearbook deadlines were looming. I didn’t want to get out of bed…how am I supposed to show up for these students and make sure we have ample coverage of this school year with photos and stories and captions?! Everything was meaningless. They don’t even care about this dumb book. I was so done and fought a daily battle with marching down to the principals office and telling him I quit.
One evening Hannah and I made a trip to Dollar General…the shopping mecca of our small town…as we were leaving I could not help but notice the looming cloud above us. Wow. It was shaped like a big footprint. There were small clouds around it that looked as if they were participating in the sky painting, but happily played their smaller roles and allowed the much larger cloud to be the star.
There was no ignoring it’s grandeur, but like I said, I was not up for anything…I gave God plenty of opportunities to show up and He was silent…I was done.
Hannah was not done.
MOM! LOOK! LOOK AT THE FOOTPRINT!
Geez. She saw it, too?! She’s 10. I have to be excited…
Yes, Hannah! I see it!
LOOK AT ALL THE LITTLE FEET AROUND IT!
She picked up on that…
I see that Hannah. What does that say to you?
The big foot is God’s and all the little ones are our footprints!
Ummm….yes. I can see that. Perhaps it means God goes before us and won’t take us anywhere He hasn’t already been.
Did I just say that?
October 22, 2007. The Next Morning.
I get to work and turn on my computer. First thing before the students arrive I check emails. I have a message from a friend and fellow photographer that stood down on the field with me during football games to get shots of the game.
Good Morning Gina. I hope you are doing well.
He signed his name and typed, Deuteronomy 31:8
That was odd but okay…
I go home for lunch and as I’m sitting on the couch my bible…the bible that I had not opened in months…was all but screaming at me to open it. I wonder why he emailed me and I wonder what that verse says. It’s Old Testament. Probably something about God’s anger and how I’m doing everything to disappoint Him and vengeance is rising. I was well aware my life must be a poor reflection of what would honor God and I didn’t appreciate this guy sending me a reminder. After arguing with myself, and unable to eat until I solve the mystery of the day, I turn to the verse.
Amazing how life springs from the pages of this book. I recall the evening before and my words to Hannah, God goes before us and won’t take us anywhere He hasn’t already been. Hashtag affirmation. Hashtag heartsoftening.
Hello tears. There you are…
I had to gather myself to go back to work. Why did he send me that email? He never emailed me before? It made no sense? So random. And that verse?
I message him to ask why…
He tells me he was getting ready to leave town and didn’t have a minute to spare but sending that to me would not leave him alone…He said he wasn’t sure where the words were in the bible and had to take time to look it up, and then sent it rather quickly so he could scoot.
I am with you.
I will be with you.
I go before you.
I will not take you anywhere I have not already been.
Do not fear.
Stop being discouraged.
I’m not going anywhere…even when you ignore me…I’m here.
I’ve got you.
Y’all. This was 11 years ago! The life I’ve experienced since that day on that couch to now…NOT EASY. He knew. He saw it before I got there. He was already there. He has gone before me. He totally hears me. He is not silent.
His voice is as loud and close as the nearest open page of His Word.
And He knows He totally has permission to get audible with me and sky write me all the things….
And He totally knows I won’t be quiet about it…
Hey. You. Yes, You. Life can feel like too much sometimes. Relationships are hard. Our children can break our hearts. We can break our children’s hearts. It seems like nothing will be the same…and nothing will change. I understand.
He goes before you, too…