Yesterday was one of those days. I had an unusually long work week. Ten-plus hour days three, maybe four of the days. On top of that we discovered that one of our boys was terribly behind in school work (partly my fault…long story), so in the little time I wasn’t at work, I was trying to help him figure things out and get caught up. My husband pitched in by making meals, and throwing in some laundry. I did bits and pieces of the dishes, whatever we needed to survive through the next day. Friday night is usually grocery night, so that I can spend Saturday catching up. But I worked so late Friday, I had to get groceries on Saturday. And getting groceries for a family with 5 men/boys for an entire week is no easy task. It literally takes hours. Then we can toss in the 2 younger boys who were with me on the trip because my husband and the 2 older boys were helping Grandma and Grandpa with work around their house. So now my grocery trip was extended by boys who would have much rather been playing…and found the way to do that in every aisle of the store.

I knew that if I didn’t spend time with God right away in the morning, I would be a hopeless cause. So I forced myself to sit and read, and attempt to pray…while the groceries, dishes and laundry waited. No matter how hard I tried, I could not give God the attention I usually strive to give. Finally I loaded the boys in the car and we started on the 20 minute drive to town. Actually, we went right through town, and another 10 miles to the pumpkin farm. Things went fairly well. We enjoyed wandering around the farm looking at the various pumpkins and gourds, pulling a large wagon behind and heaving the biggest ones on board. We loaded them in the front and back seat of the car because we needed to save the trunk for a week’s worth of groceries. Then back to town for lunch…and battle. Of course, by the time we actually got to the first store, I was viewing my watch with panic. I was edgy, impatient, and certainly did not look like a woman after God’s heart.

The grocery trip seemed to drag on and on. My attitude was horrible. I can’t say that I even tried to pray. I was so fixated on my list, the time, and the distractions my boys were making, that there was no way I could see Jesus in the chaos. I could hear Him calling to me, though. Way back at the back of my mind, where I had pushed Him. Ever-so-faintly. I couldn’t even make out what He was saying. It really was just a vague awareness of Him trying to reach me. I was too busy to stop and acknowledge Him. There was too much on my list to do to take a break and see what He wanted. Besides, I had already given Him His time in the morning.

By the time we arrived home, and unloaded the groceries from the car, I was softening just a bit. What I wanted most was to just plug in the Roku, turn on Star Trek Voyager, and let my mind get lost in another world while I started the laundry, put away the bags and bags of food, and wash the dishes. The boys went outside to play, and I wrestled with TV and Roku cords…until I gave up and grudgingly worked in silence. It was now 6:30 p.m.

God was still calling to me. I turned on the Christian radio station, thinking maybe singing some praises would help bring me out of this funk. It wasn’t really working. I knew my heart was not right, and I had treated my boys badly, so I called them in to apologize for being impatient and unkind. Now maybe I could move on. I sought God’s forgiveness…as I continued to rush through my work.

At 8:00 p.m. my husband and older boys arrived home, fed and tired. Now I needed to come up with something to feed the little boys, and I was just putting the finishing touches on the groceries (it takes longer when you work on the laundry and dishes at the same time). My husband said something to me…and I snapped. I cried that I was trying, and that I had been battling all day, and I was failing at every turn. Now, with food on the table for myself and the little ones, I finally dropped down to my chair and prayed. I confessed with a truly contrite heart, and did what I should have done hours before, give my list of to-do’s to Him, and ask Him to help me. The tears streamed down my face as I admitted, once again, that I can’t do this without Him. And I can’t change me. I need Him to change me. I surrendered…again…to Him. Sigh.

The irony is that God was getting me ready for this difficult day. He warned me. A day or so before, I read a blog post that I use in my devotions. The woman talked about how she was snapping at her husband while under stress…right after praising God in her devotion time. I nodded my head because I knew what that was like.

Later I read 1 Kings 19:11-13 when the discouraged prophet Elijah called out to God. “The Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go, stand in front of me on the mountain, and I will pass by you.’ Then a very strong wind blew until it caused the mountains to fall apart and large rocks to break in front of The Lord. But The Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but The Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire, but The Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there was a quiet, gentle sound. When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his coat and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.” [Some versions say ‘a still, small voice.’]

Then I read Psalm 46:10 – “God says, ‘Be quiet and know that I am God. I will be supreme over all the nations; I will be supreme in the earth.'”

Yesterday, I read the story in Matthew 14 of when Jesus walked on water. Peter joined him and was able to walk on the wind-blown waves…as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. As soon as he looked away, he began to sink.

If I need this many warnings, and more, it is a wonder God doesn’t give up on me! But He doesn’t. He didn’t. He called to me with patience, but persistence, until I returned. What I needed most of all was to keep my eyes on Him, through the strong wind, through the earthquake, and through the fire, so that I could be still and hear His still, small voice Then He could hold my feet up to walk on the waves. As soon as I did that, I had the peace that comes from the source of all peace. I also had the resources to fight the spiritual battle that took place afterwards, when Satan realized he lost.

I am so grateful that God does not show Himself in the strong wind, earthquake and fire when He calls to us! He is patient! He waits. And He allows us to chose to come to Him. He could force us, or frighten us into coming with His greatness and power. Instead, He comes to us in a whisper. Shhh. A still, small voice down in the deepest recesses of our beings, calling, gently, lovingly, patiently, unwaveringly. You hear Him. You know His voice. Come back, and walk on water!