I’m going to attempt something a little different today. Bear with me as I muddle through. It won’t be my most eloquent post, but I feel like it is important that I try and share.
As I have lived my Christian walk I have often found myself impatiently waiting on God to reveal His plan to me. Sometimes I wait with excitement and anticipation, other times I brace myself with expectancy and fear. But almost every time in the midst of my frustration and impatience, I call my Dad for direction. The response is always the same, “Katie, be still.” I feel my emotions coming to the surface as I think of the words. I am always both grateful and frustrated by that sentence. I don’t WANT to be still. I wasn’t designed to be still. “Katie, be still. God is getting you ready. Don’t rush it.”
So a few years ago I asked God to lay a purpose or need on my heart. “Use me where you want me Lord.” I knew how dangerous this request was, knowing full well that I might not like the work God chose for me. Almost immediately I was in touch with the Tim Tebow Foundation. “We work with orphans in Haiti, and we need to collect shoes for these kids. Do you think your family can help?” Little did I know that God would open the flood gates of blessings. Together with the help of friends, and friends of friends, we collected 375 pairs of shoes. I was overjoyed, and the Tebow Foundation was overwhelmed. It took multiple mission trips to get the shoes over to the kids.
Next we collected Christmas gifts for these orphans. This time a private school teamed up with my family. God was opening new doors and new opportunities. We ended up filling a small Uhaul to the ceiling with toys for orphans. It was incredible. And when it was over, I felt the way you do the day after a vacation. There was this emptiness. It was over, and I didn’t know what I was supposed to do next.
I called my dad, more than a little bummed out. “What now Dad? I don’t have a mission. What does He want me to do now?” “Be still, and wait.” I am a woman of action. This was really getting old. “Quit telling me that. I’m no good at it.” “Well, God is going to keep making you be still until you learn from it. Now BE STILL.”
It was months before I felt God tug on my heart again. This time I raised my eyebrows and thought maybe I had misunderstood. “You want me to do WHAT?!” God was leading me to do prison ministry in our local women’s prison. Sadly the timing didn’t work. There is extensive training that has to be done, clearances to be obtained, and then placement. It takes months, and we were moving.
I moved, started a new job, and didn’t think about it again. Until God placed a boy on my heart. I just couldn’t shake it. J was the son of a friend. He was a good boy who had lost his way, and now was sitting in prison. ALONE. LONELY. Again I felt God’s voice. “Write him. Tell him he isn’t alone. Love on him.” I wrote J. He wrote back. We now write every week, sometimes multiple times a week. I finally asked J, “If you could share anything on my blog, what would it be?” Here is what he wrote…
From J’s pen to my keyboard, “Listen, Not Hear”
“People talk to me every day. One thing I have noticed is that most of the people who I talk to aren’t really listening. They are just waiting their turn to speak. I can be in the middle of painstakingly describing something that I have seen or been through, and I notice the person I am talking to is just saying “Yeah yeah”, and when I finish they don’t even respond. They say something like, “Well this one time…” I guess this is the product of people not being listened to themselves, and in turn they feel the need to be heard. Maybe it’s their pride? Maybe they are insecure, and feel they must talk and be heard to prove something to themselves and everyone around them? I’m not really sure, but I DO know that it is more beneficial and fulfilling to listen actively, respond accordingly, progressing in deep conversation. Try to understand and feel where someone is coming from instead of waiting to be heard. I suppose there are much more pressing issues in this world right now, but what would it hurt to just listen a little more often? So the next time your buddy has something to say, listen, don’t just hear.” -J
As I read these words, I was forced to be still. I can’t fathom the life J has, nor do I understand every choice he has made. But I don’t have to understand. That’s God’s business. J really is on to something. What if we all just took a minute to be still and listen? Darkness envelopes us sometimes, and the words come spilling out looking for the light. Let’s stop leaving them in the black abyss, and instead embrace those words, wrap our minds around them, and help them find the light.
So often I do to God exactly what J is describing. “But Lord, I need to tell you something. Can you just be quiet for a minute? Let me tell you what I think.” But in the quietness of a cell, J gets it. Be still. Just listen.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10