When You Aren’t Ready To Answer

by | Aug 6, 2012 | Uncategorized

The earth’s cheeks sink in for lack of water. Dust lies on luxuriant branches waiting to breathe again. It’s a glimpse of the world absent of her wildflowers. Colors of waving joy faded to sepia while He withholds water and we wait in shallow breathe. Perhaps it’s a living mural of how a soul turns cracked and dried up without living water.

I’m walking along this cottage road in Ontario, Canada I’ve travelled consecutive years of summers. Her gravel chest knows the shape of my feet, tall branches blink leafy eyelash at the crown of my head.  I’m missing her color-strewn side arms. The way spikes of lavender and gold wave above tall grass and blooming weeds.

The family table misses the vase holding the bouquet from her arms this year.

Docks sit idle empty in water to ankles of steel while boats anchor far from shore. Corn chews tasteless on the cob and beans string skinny.  And when a chipmunk scurries across the road, stopping suddenly for a portrait, I hear Him ask the same question he asks the blind men sitting on the roadside when he passes by, “What do you want me to do for you.” Matthew 29:32

I read this question from the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson earlier in the week. It echoes now among the stillness of familiar path. He’s asking me the question directly and I’m feeling like an unprepared contestant on Jeopardy, not ready to respond.

Because this is about more than the need for rain to satiate thirst, it’s about vague prayers and squelched expectancy when it comes to dreams for the future.  My dreams and desires; the result of the perimeters of my own capabilities. He’s asking me to be specific, to trade my impotence for his omnipotence.

How will you respond when He asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Like the two blind men calling out to Jesus on the roadside, I’m asking Him to help me see. Open blind places of the heart to dream. Glorify Him beyond the rooms I’ve created in the house of circumstance.

Batterson describes it this way: “Most of us don’t get what we want simply because we don’t know what we want. We’ve never circled any of God’s promises . . . our dreams are as nebulous as cumulus clouds.”

Do you know what you want?

Lone voices echo from inside cottages, like pine cones crashing to the ground on an icy winter day. The wail of a child’s cry bounces off tall pines. And those of us enjoying the stillness of morning, we’re unprepared for the fury of what comes hours later.

He answers pleading prayers on the shore of floating clouds in a way unexpected, illustrating truth I hope never to forget.

Please join me for the continuation of this story on Wednesday.

Counting gifts with Ann today:  

  • For Ontario peaches and cream for breakfast.
  • The way Harrison’s heart soars when he gets on the kneeboard behind the boat.
  • The call of the loon outside our bedroom window to welcome us back on our first day of vacation.
  • A flock of geese, larger than I’ve ever seen, floating by at first morning glance out the window.
  • How everyone wants to go for our first grocery shopping trip in Killaloe, even the kids.
  • Because eating food you don’t get at home is such a treat.
  • Sitting outside in the gazebo for dinner, watching the sun set over the lake.
  • Red Rose tea, cheese curds and milk in a bag.
  • The way I made everyone laugh trying to act out the word skateboard during a family game of Cranium.

Linking with these friends too: Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday, Playdates with God, Soli Deo Gloria, Just Write.

Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. Christina

    Good question, what do I want? Looking forward to Wednesdays post. Looks like you had a relaxing, restorative trip. Welcome back!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It’s one I’ve been praying over for days now and wrestling through all the noise to hear my own heart. Thanks for the welcome back, it was good to sleep in my own bed last night but I can’t say I’m excited to be back into the lists of every day life after all the fun and rest.

  2. Dea

    I heard a loons for the first time this summer. Loved it. Love that the couples are life partners. Would love to “hear” that question from the Lord right now. I heard it once when I was sick years ago. You wouldn’t believe what I asked for and got. I passed on healing that day. Looking back I see how small my prayer was, but God in His grace gave me healing just a little further up the road. He answered a prayer a dear friend “circled” around me on the day he told her to fast for me. That began my journey back. I’ve prayed “circles” for years. I just didn’t know it until I read Mark’s book. 🙂 See ya Wednesday…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I love the way God creates. Was so astounded by the lessons in creation on our vacation. The way the loons are alone, yet geese travel in huge groups. Hearing that call of the loon is a real gift though.
      I think I’ve discovered how small my prayers have been for myself after reading this book and a few others that just “happened” to echo the same message He was speaking to me. I can pray circles for others but when it comes to myself I’ve had a bit of a wake up call. Thanks for being here Dea, you’re a nice place to return to after being away my friend.

  3. Sylvia R

    Oh my, the cry of the loon and Red Rose tea! Funny the little details that give me the strongest memories: of summers in Ontario. Uh! I miss it! And this piece of yours, so beautiful with imagery, prompts me to circle a promise right now. Thank you, Shelly. God bless you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It’s nice to know I have a kindred friend in you when it comes to Ontario Sylvia. I had no idea. I brought home many boxes of that tea to savor until next summer. Glad you were encouraged to circle a promise here.

  4. LuAnn

    Thank you Shelly. Sometimes the living water turns solid during a soul’s winter and your words often work like an ice pick for the “frozen tundra of the mind”.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Lu, I’m praying for you. Glad you are finding some thaw here my dear friend.

  5. Nancy Franson (@nancyfranson)

    I’m feeling that same sense of vague cloudiness when I consider that question, too. Looking forward to hearing more from you about this. Hope your time up north was refreshing despite the dryness. I’ve missed hearing your voice around here.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Glad to know I’m in good company. I’ve been wondering if the cloudiness is about season of life or just the hazy view that comes with the tyranny of the urgent that pushes the big picture aside. Whatever it is, I’m trusting in Him for revelation. And its good to be missed by you, that means a lot to me. It’s nice to be back, connecting with wonderful on-line friends like you.

  6. A Little R & R

    Wow! What a profound post. I am going to be pondering this a lot this week. Thank you for sharing this. Hopping over from Playdates. Blessings from Croatia: A Little R & R: http://www.littlerandr.org

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So nice to meet you, glad you stopped by from Playdates. Laura’s place is one of my favorite places to hang out. Hope you’ll come back on Wednesday and share more.

  7. joy

    First time dropping by from @ Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday. I admire people like you who can really write and make my mind really saturate every word that was written. And thanks God for people like you who gives inspiration to someone like me:)

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh my, thank you for your kind encouragement. So nice to meet you here from Hear it, Use it. I hope you’ll come back on Wednesday and share more about you.

  8. Stacey Thacker (@stacey29lincoln)

    I’ve been thinking about this too, I’m reading the book now. In some ways, it is the first thing you think of when you read the question. In other ways, it is an answer you have hid deep and are afraid to say out loud.

    Lovely words friend. Saying a prayer for you!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Stacey, I noticed you were reading it when you posted something on Facebook. My husband got a signed copy in the mail from Mark when it launched and its been sitting in a stack next to our bed ever since. The timing was perfect for me actually. Miraculously, all the books I took on vacation echoed the same message. He knows I need repetition to get it! And I agree with you, sometimes you know right away and then sometimes it takes some wrestling and excavation to get to the bottom of it. Appreciate your prayers, very much.

  9. Hannah Avery

    Beautiful words! Thanks also for commenting on my blog several weeks ago. Been taking a blogging break lately!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Hannah, glad you stopped by. And I’m back from a two week blogging hiatus this week too. So no worries on responding. Just glad you commented.

  10. Sarah Koci Scheilz

    Shelly — What you write blesses me constantly!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Aww, that blesses me big time to know that Sarah. Thank you.

  11. Jennifer@GDWJ

    I’ve been reading Batterson’s book, too, but got sidetracked. This is a great reminder to get back in to it.

    Good stuff here, as usual, Shelly. Thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’ve had it laying on a stack for awhile Jennifer, but the timing for me to read it over vacation was perfect. Emily Freeman posted a quote from the book and it was my sacred echo to take it with me. So glad I did.

  12. r.elliott

    to trade my impotence for his omnipotence….love this…He has me here too…blessings and safe travels…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Ro. We got home last night. It was good to sleep in my own bed but I have to admit I would rather wake up to the call of the loon on the lake through my open window. It’s hard to leave that beautiful place.

  13. Stefanie

    I have “The Circle Maker” sitting right on the desk in front of me. I’m more challenged than ever to begin reading it.
    As usual, I leave your space blessed…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I had it sitting on a stack for a long time too. Then I read a quote from it on Emily Freeman’s blog and it was my sacred echo to read it on vacation. It’s an easy read Stefanie, think you’ll enjoy the riches he writes.

      • Stefanie

        How funny! I was introduced to it though Emily’s blog, too.
        Looking forward to diving into it:))

  14. kelliwoodford

    ooh, can’t wait to hear the rest.
    your question is a good one. one i will be thinking on.

    and as usual, you write such living words.
    thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Kelli, always enjoy your contagious enthusiasm for Him and love seeing you here in the comments.

  15. Michelle DeRusha

    Missed you while you were on hiatus, Shelly. And as always your words here are so wise and so deep. I often avoid asking God for what I really want because I’m afraid to be disappointed if his answer is different from the one I desire.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Aww, thanks Michelle, its good to be missed. I thought about you, read your posts while I was gone. Hope you had a good break too. And I think your on to something here. Its probably why I don’t ask for the big, audacious, God sized dreams too. Thanks for the insight.

  16. Laura

    I am on the edge of my seat here :). Do I know what I want? That question stirs deep to my roots. Maybe I need asking too, Shelly. Love hearing your voice today–loved seeing you over at (in)courage this week. Can’t wait to read the rest of the story :

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You’re such an encourager to me Laura, can’t tell you how much it means to me friend.

Pin It on Pinterest