Can I just say, it was crazy. Fun. Full house. Lots and lots of kiddos running around, shrieking, giggling, fighting, playing, deciding who was spending the night with whom. Staying up way too late. A baby way off schedule (thankfully she's very adaptable). A wood burning stove getting delivered...sort of. A birthday party squished into the middle of the chaos making crazy fun even crazier fun. And then came Sunday. I got up tired...and a slight bit grouchy. One kid had a icky stomach and I almost stayed home from church with her.
If I had I would have missed God speaking directly to me. The sermon that Thanksgiving Sunday, preached in the church I grew up in has been on my heart so heavily these past few weeks. The message my dad preached has touched me deeply. The scripture was Psalm 116 -
"I love the Lord,for he heard my voice; for he heard my cry for mercy,
Because he turned his ear toward me, I will call on him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangle me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was over come by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the LORD, "LORD save me!"
The Lord is gracious and righteous, our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul, the LORD has been good to you.
For you, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
I trusted in the LORD when I said 'I am greatly afflicted'; in my alarm I said 'Everyone is a liar'.
What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones.
Truly I am your servant, LORD. I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.
I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the LORD - in your midst Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD."
I've heard God speak to me in a still small voice.
I've had Him speak to me in ways I couldn't miss, but never would have expected. Like the time I was begging Him to let me know that He really loved me. This sounds really, really odd but He called me "sweetie". Yep, that was unexpected.
Then there has been time when I expected to hear His voice. I waited with eager anticipation for it, and instead there was blessed silence. I felt Him. It was the closest thing I've experienced to a heavenly hug. Silent and present. Something I often need from Him.
And then there have been times where I got a spiritual slap. Even more unexpected then some of the thoughts I've heard were the times I got a little too audacious with the LORD. A few years ago I was praying for a miracle for my brother-in-law. I was mad. Mad that Jim had cancer. Mad that loss was a part of life. Mad that my mother-in-law was sick. Mad. Mad that God would let this happen. Mad that sin had to be a part of life. Mad the the world He had created to be beautiful wasn't looking so rosy. Mad that I was dealing with post-partum depression and couldn't just enjoy my baby girl.
And I told Him.
And He told me.
"If you just want someone to do what you ask, go get a dog."
That has stayed with me as I've walked with Him. And now there are new bumpy roads to walk. Roads that I would never choose to travel. But I'm on them. And He's with me. What's even better is He's before me and behind me.
As my dad preached that Sunday, he read this Psalm. He talked of our need to praise and thank the Lord no matter our circumstances. That thanking him and praising him opened the way to the throne room. That thanksgiving and praise sometimes just have to be a matter of the will.
But what had the hairs on my arms standing on end as God spoke to me through my earthly Daddy was this. Matthew 26 tells of the night before the crucifixion. After Jesus had eaten the Last Supper with his disciples they "sang a hymn." Psalm 116 is one of the hymns. To read the Psalm and know that the One who died for me sang praise to His Father before being betrayed, beaten, mocked, spit upon, nailed to a cross, and left utterly alone humbles me. If He could thank His Father and sing praise to Him, no matter what my life circumstances are, I can too. I get to choose. I pray He gives me the grace to keep praising Him. To keep thanking Him. To press close to His wounded hands and pierced brow so that I can remember, so that I will never forget - He alone is worthy.