When You Aren’t Ready to Answer . . . Love Waits

by | Aug 8, 2012 | Uncategorized

Squawking from a tribe of geese gliding over the lake surface startles me awake from sleep. When I roll over, I hear Him say, “This is a lesson in letting go.” But He’s not talking about the geese.

Over the past twenty-four hours, we’ve been dumping buckets of lake water into toilets for flushing, cooking eggs on the barbecue and catching mice that scurry among the dirty dishes lining the counter in wait.

We’re a few too many days without a shower.

We scoop bowls of chili by the light of two red pillar candles; wash our hands with wet wipes. When we need milk from the refrigerator we make sure not to leave the door open so long the food will get warm inside.

It’s our vacation.

It makes sense to me now, why I felt so strongly about buying that battery powered lantern at Costco before we left home. When the cashier asked me how I was going to use it, I had no idea it would be our main source of light in the aftermath of a storm.

On our second day at the family cottage in Ontario Canada, I answer the phone hanging on the wall with a towel around me to soak up water droplets cascading from my swimsuit.  It’s my uncle, warning us about the storm headed our way in just an hour, in case we were planning to be out in the boat.

Through the kitchen window, I watch kids swim in the lake, a canoe family paddle by, boats pulling tubes of laughing kids in the distance. It’s hard to believe this sunny sky would deceive me.

But the earth’s been holding her breathe so long here, she finally exhales a fury of wind and rain a few hours later. Gales so strong they snap trees like matchsticks, push anchored boats around like toys in a bathtub.  The ground becomes a battlefield of sticks raining from branches.

I couldn’t feel more helpless watching it unfold from my spot at that same window.

And I hear him ask me again, “What do you want me to do for you?” the same way he asked me on the dusty road the day before.  He shows me through the strength of a storm, the smallness of my eternal expectancy.

Because we can pray for rain, anticipating a drink to satisfy thirsty soil, and forget He holds water in the heavens like a balloon waiting to pop. We can ask for a juicy ribeye to satisfy a craving like the Israelites and get a storm of 105 million quail on the front lawn. (Numbers 11:18-20)

He holds our dreams in the palm of his hand outstretched like this too. Do we dare think our dreams, our prayers, larger than his hands? Or too insignificant to utter?

Hours before the storm, I walked along the Bonnechere River, stood on the shore of mirrored trees and said how good it is to be here, surrounded by what looms larger than me.  Remembering that God’s dreams for me, and you, they stand taller than our perspective. And fear keeps life stuck small.

I cannot control the yelp of a flock of geese before the sun sets golden, how fast the wind blows or where it chooses to snap a tree. I don’t determine how or when rain falls, the way sunlight makes a leaf glow. How succulent an ear of corn grows on the stalk or how sweet berries taste on the vine.

A cool breeze kisses my cheeks, head sinks back into the pillow and I do the only thing I can control: pray specific prayers. And while I wait and listen to the silence of letting go, I’m praying that the truth of His words back to me will stick to my feet like yellow pollen falling in spring, leaving an imprint of His glory wherever I go.

 “It’s a frightening thing to open oneself to this strange and dark side of the divine; it means letting go of our sane self-control, that control which gives us the illusion of safety. But safety is only an illusion, and letting it go is part of listening to the silence, and to the Spirit.” Madeline L’Engle, Walking on Water

This post is a continuation from Monday’s post, inspired by The Circle Maker written by Mark Batterson.

Also linking with God Bumps and God Incidences, WLWW, Walk With Him Wednesday.

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


  1. Deidra Riggs

    I just finished reading “Leaving Church” by Barbara Brown Taylor. She talks a lot about geese in that book (and other things, of course). But this reminds me of that book, and of how little in life goes the way we had planned, and how opening yourself up is the best way of all…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I saw that at my used bookstore and I thought it rang a bell. Did you like her new one too? Maybe I will go back and buy it. What you describe is where I am, opening myself up to be surprised by Him.

  2. Kim

    This will stick with me today. Thank you! “And while I wait and listen to the silence of letting go, I’m praying that the truth of His words back to me will stick to my feet like yellow pollen falling in spring, leaving an imprint of His glory wherever I go.”

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Kim, so glad you dropped by. And if you have insights you want to share as you ponder, I hope you’ll come back and share them here in community.

  3. Susan Stilwell

    Isn’t it interesting that some of the worst storms come when things look brightest? And yet, He controls it all. Thanks for sharing, Shelly. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Your right Susan. And even though were pressed in by our circumstances, we just kept on playing and enjoying the time away while He showed us His power.

  4. Robin

    So wonderful to have you back.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Robin . . and for the sweet birthday card awaiting me when I collected the mail. Love you loads.

  5. Lynn Morrissey

    Shelly, thank you for such an exquisitely beautiful post. I agree w/ L’Engle that “safety is only an illusion.” I think, perhaps, that I’d shared here about how fearful I can be–sometimes not venturing out into my life in an effort to remain safe, and then a glass fell on my lip, swelling it, when I pulled it from a high self. I wasn’t even safe attempting to get a drink of water in my own house! That incident taught me a lesson. But safety *is* a reality if we remember we are *in* Christ, in Whom we live and move and have our being. What do I want Him to do for me … to remind me that I am in Him and He is in me. And what else do I want Him to do? … to interpret my “wants” to be *His* wants for me, because, truth be told, often I don’t even know what I want or want what is best for me. I don’t even trust myself that far. And so I say, “Lord, I long to want what YOU want!” Thank you for sharing your heart, Shelly.

    • Jillie

      Well put, my Friend. So glad you’re back from your journaling retreat. How did it go? I was praying.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        So good to see you at Shelly’s place, Jillie. The journaling retreat was far beyond what I could have imagined. I can’t begin to tell you all God did…….here……so I will write to you! =] Great to reconnect.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I quoted Batterson in my previous post that links with this one and you echoed his words eloquently. That most of us don’t even know what we want, how to respond when He asks. But he isn’t hindered by our inability to respond in the moment. He waits like a gentlemen, loving us patiently while we wait for the fog to clear and understanding to present herself. Nice to connect with you again Lynn. Hope you had a nice time away. You were in my prayers along that dusty path on several mornings. (And I picked up a Victoria magazine at your nudge.)

      • Lynn Morrissey

        Oh Shelly, I am so very touched that you would pray for me! I can’t thank you enough. Yes, I do think that God sometimes slowly reveals His will and HIs messages for our lives, and perhaps it is He who is clearing that fog when He knows we are ready to receive. On my journaling retreat alone, God overwhelmed me with His presence–*and* His presents: so many deep, soulful insights as I communed with Him, pen in hand! I had not read your previous post or the Batterson quote, so it is quite serendipitous and interesting to me that I should comment as I did. This was the first post of yours that I have read in some time, with our both being away…..and I was having SHelly withdrawals again! =] Have you read Batterson’s Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity? It’s excellent! And how fun that you have been reading Victoria. As I think you might realize, I preferred the older issues (and I shudder to tell you what I paid for the VERY FIRST ISSUE EVER! I started subscribing w/ issue #2 and after Victoria stopped printing for several years, I purchased issue #1 in auction on E-Bay). I will be looking for *your* writing in those ethereal pages!! I do think the magazine is definitely on the upswing though w/ the new editor and writers, etc., since its comeback. I’m so glad you had a good trip and that youare safe. I praise God for protecting you and your precious family!

        • Redemption's Beauty

          I hear your genuine heart after the Lord Jesus and know that your words matter to Him and make a difference for others. It’s why I’m praying for you.

  6. Jillie

    This is so strange, Shelly. I was actually sitting in my livingroom, listening to the weather report that very day. Miss Weathergirl—I think her name was Stormie Clearweather—said there would be rather intense weather in the Ottawa Valley, and I immediately thought of you and wondered if you’d be affected by it? Now I know. We do get intense weather, just like you in the southern regions of our continent. Isn’t it ridiculous, really, how we ‘think’ we have some measure of control…when we really don’t. Especially over the weather. But “God’s got it!” as Jennifer Dukes Lee’s Husband always says. I loved your phrase, “But the earth’s been holding her breath so long here…” I’ve never heard it expressed like that, but it’s so true. I am so glad you’re back. I’ve missed your gifting expressed toward us, your readers. Do tell more about my beloved Ontario…and maybe more too, about England. I never tire (?) of hearing. Bless you Shelly!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh wow, isn’t that something . . how the Lord put me on your heart at the weather report. Some people were without power the entire time we were there. We were lucky to only have it out for two days. I’ve got lots of pictures from beautiful Ontario Jillie. I’ll keep sharing them.

  7. Christina

    What if our dreams were God-sized and our expectations grander? I love the way He shows us that He can do so much more than we imagine. Beautiful words of hope and truth here. Glad you are back!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think I’ve always known that for other people, maybe not as much for myself. But I’m getting there. Thanks Christina, its good to be back.

  8. Dea

    One of my sons used to pray for “everything to go smooth.” Every time I heard those words, I knew that smooth isn’t a day to day reality. Living by the ocean you know it can be like glass one day and churning and tossing the next. I like to see both beauties but the churning sea reminds me of God’s power–like your storm. I sit on the cusp of having the courage to ask for big. Now if I do, will I wait for it. Deep thoughtful post. You are a blessing to me.

    BTW–I took a battery powered lantern to MN. Bought it on a whim at Target. Turned out to be great for knowing exactly where the spiders were in the outhouse. 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I remember those kind of prayers, I prayed them myself. And you’re so right, life is full of unexpected churning and He’s in the smooth and stormy. I have a strong feeling that if you ask for the big, He’ll give you what you need to say yes when it comes. Love you Dea, can just see you carrying that lantern to the outhouse.

  9. Laura

    Oh, yes, I needed to read this today. This perfect ending. Specific prayers….how can I not? He dreams bid for me and you, Shelly. Sometimes I forget.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Love God’s perfect timing, glad you found it here. Makes my heart happy.

  10. Paula

    I think we often need that reminder that we are NOT in control of everything. Glad it was only two days of “roughing it”, yet another reminder of how fortunate and blessed we really are. Glad to look forward to your sweet observations of life once again.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I was reading the Poisonwood Bible the whole vacation, about a missionary family from the south moving to the Congo in the 1960’s. I was already there mentally when the power went out. We just brushed our teeth with bottled water like we did in Rwanda and kept on living.

  11. simplystriving

    I’ve missed your words, Shelly! When I was young, I remember asking my great-grandmother what it meant to fear God. She talked about the biggest storm she’d ever experienced. How it was calm and blissful before. How the soothing patters on the roof turned into raging pellets. How the safety of walls were shattered by mere wind — something we cannot see.

    And she said “Nikki, we fear Him because we know what He’s capable of. But really all that means is we spend our time admiring His controlled displays of grace. You stick close to Him, child. right under His wing. The closer you are to the source of life, the less you have to fear.”

    Thank you for reminding me of that…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It’s what I love about blogging, the way it brings so much of life together and creates a big picture we couldn’t see before. What a beautiful moment you shared here Nikki, read it twice. I missed you too, can’t wait to catch up on your posts. I haven’t even unpacked yet, its been crazy.

  12. Kris Camealy (@AlwaysAlleluia)

    Shelly~ This was a breath of grace to read. Your words bare such a beautiful glimpse of your heart… I’m just going to sit and soak in this,…I needed these words to remind me today, to encourage me… Thank you for this.

    And I am so glad you are back and safe. I missed you! 😉

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Missed you too Kris, thought about you many times and prayed for you while I was away. Nice to be connected again.

  13. MaryBeth@NewLifeSteward

    Great quote from L’Engle at the end! The Circle Maker is next on my list! I can’t wait to dig into it!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It’s on my list too Mary Beth, can’t wait to savor it. Reading a Wrinkle in Time now, somehow I missed that one growing up.

  14. Heather Kopp at SoberBoots.com

    Shelly, this is so beautiful! Thank you for your words, photos, and the quote by ML. I just love your blog. It is so refreshing.Thanks for being you. H

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Your encouragement means so much to me Heather, thank you. So glad to know you.

  15. Elizabeth Stewart

    Both of these posts have had me praying some specific prayers. Thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh, I love that Elizabeth. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Tereasa

    We experienced storms that left us powerless for days when we lived close to where you cottaged. We learned that lesson of letting go. No running water, no lights, not hydro at all. The day I melted snow on the fireplace to give my children a drink was life-changing.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh wow, what a moment Tereasa. It makes us grateful for all the things we take for granted doesn’t it?

  17. lolitavalle


    Thank you for another beautiful post and deep thoughts. I love the yellow pollen imprints. It is so clear in mind. I am smiling thinking about it and I feel like Nancy Drew wanting to spot and spy where the prints would lead me to.


    • Redemption's Beauty

      God gave me that picture during prayer time. I notice that His words are usually the ones that resonate most with people in my posts, which is exactly the way it should be. Love you Lolita. Thank you so much for all your love and encouragement, I treasure it.

      • lolitavalle

        Love you too, Shelly. Thank you that we share so much insights…. usually more for myself from you.

  18. Linda

    This is so beautifully written and speaks volumes to my heart. I was thinking of a couple of simple lines (can’t remember where I read them) while praying the other day: “Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring.” I sometimes feel my specifics are “too much to ask,” but I know He holds everything in His hands, and that nothing is too difficult for Him.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think we share that “too much to ask” feeling Linda, along with many others according to the comments. So glad to know this resonated with you. God is good.

  19. Jennifer@GDWJ

    I like the image of that yellow pollen. And all the footprints one might leave that way, each one a prayer.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      He gave me that image during a time of prayer. It’s fun to see the way readers pick up most on the words and images He gives me during the writing process. What a gift!

  20. Joanne Norton

    Whew! This drought issue is so strongly invading so many of us. WE HAD RAIN THIS EVENING, a real storm… the first in weeks and weeks. Our power wasn’t hit, though… and so sorry for you and yours to walk through that including the “mice” issue.

    Always enjoy you, Shelly.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I know Joanne and we’re getting so much rain here on the coast its almost embarrassing. I asked the Lord to spread it around to those parched places on the earth yesterday. Despite the storm . . and mice, we had a wonderful time. It didn’t really hinder our fun at all. It gives us more memories to talk about later.

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