Any time someone says, “God must have a sense of humor.” I smile and nod.
It’s true. I’ve seen the evidence of it time and time again in my life.
You know what else is true? The times I experience His sense of humor in action, I also experience His profound love. His deep knowledge of me is revealed in those times. The sheer irony of his ways just tickles me.
It always, without fail, happens after those long bouts of silence. You know the ones I’m talking about. The days, months – even years where you wake up every morning and go to bed every night asking the questions, “God are you there? Do you even see me? Do you truly understand my circumstances?”
He finally speaks up in the most profound way. And the funny thing is, the answer is usually the same. He pats me on the shoulder and says, “I’ve been here this whole time. Do you see? I told you it would work out. That was the direction you were meant to walk in. Now look at the result.”
He spoke to me again tonight. He had me smiling and shaking my head. If it wasn’t so funny, I think I might have cried.
You see, I’m a bit of a pessimist. Yes, I joke around and insist it’s realism. But honestly, it’s pessimism wearing a realist’s mask. For as long as I can recall, I’ve excelled at doubting myself and what I do. Every action, every conversation, every decision – I second guess it and beat myself up over it.
I’ve branded myself a failure over and over again.
It’s called fear, and I’m no stranger to living under its shadow. Maybe you can relate. Fear of failure can have a crippling affect. Up until now, I didn’t think it possible to escape it. Each day that passed, I’d look back and think on all the ways I failed. I’d see an entire string of failures in my wake and wonder, “Is this my lot in life? To fail?”
God would whisper “No,” and keep urging me on. But it seemed for every effort I made, more failure was there to greet me in the end. It roused the fear all the more.
Then something snapped! The light came on, and I found myself staring reality in the face. It was as though God took me by the shoulders, moved me over a step, then whispered in my ear, “Stop holding yourself back. Get out of your own way.”
The revelation was so stunning, I could only sit there and blink. He unfurled the past six years before my eyes. Wounds I harbored from horrible experiences with our past churches made me afraid of people. So I hid from them. Later, loneliness and the conviction of seeing my children living in seclusion with me, caused me to branch out and integrate myself with people again.
I looked at God, “You did that?”
Years of sitting on my butt, slowly wasting away in depression and self doubt, took its toll on me physically and emotionally. The reflection in the mirror was so shocking this year that I hardly recognized myself. Next thing I knew, I was taking strides to improve my health and make our home a better place for my family.
God helped me to be more physically present for my husband and my kids.
Then lastly, he turned me toward my writing. My novel and my series that has drug out for over 12 years. The first voice that popped into my head was that of a pessimist.
“You’ll never publish it.”
God shook His head. “Don’t listen.”
“I don’t want to, but I’m afraid it’s true.”
“I am not the author of fear.”
In the silence I accepted His answer. Then, stepping out in faith, I began to make this the year to earnestly seek publication.
Immediately, the road blocks were thrown up. It seemed like one thing after another started to reach for me – to cause me to stumble. Yesterday, I found myself entertaining the same doubts. Was God really calling me to finish what I started? Does he really want me to be published, or am I just dreaming it all up. Ha! I mean, there’s no question I’ve got the imagination for it. For goodness sake, I’m a writer!
Morning came and I plunged forward. It was a good day to focus on writing. My husband took the kids out to play outside on the ranch. The house was quiet, and barring the occasional child coming through the door for a drink before returning to play in the summer sun, I had it all to myself.
Hours went by and the muse just struck. Which is an odd thing when you’re working on line by line edits. The manuscript seemed to open up into new facets that I’d never considered before. Next thing you know, evening rolled around and I’d completed a chapter and a half. And it didn’t feel like a failure. Honestly, I felt as though I’d just climbed a mountain and reached the summit. It was so strange and so wonderful at the same time.
This sense of ease overcame me and I felt as though it was alright to set the manuscript aside and be done for the day. Then my husband popped in a new movie that we were curious about. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Oh man! As it began, I thought, Oh this is just silly! But as the movie progressed and its message unfolded, I could only sit in awestruck wonder. Here was a guy who lived his life in obscurity – in fear. He didn’t think he was worth all that much, and by all evinced, it seemed others shared that opinion. All except one guy. An unlikely guy – one who from Walter’s perspective, had done it all and wasn’t afraid of anything. That guy saw Walter’s importance – his dependability. Through the encouragement he bestowed, Walter’s eyes began to open. Suddenly he was stepping out and doing things he never dreamed possible. Things that were impossible simply because he feared them.
Once he stepped out, then his eyes were opened – not only to the world around him, but to how much he was genuinely valued by those around him. That was something special.
Then it dawned on me how much I felt like that character. I empathized so much more than I cared to admit. Could fear really be the only thing holding me back?
God spoke again.
I bet you can guess what He said.
So I guess that means it’s time to listen up. Because when God speaks…
It’s truly a life-altering experience.