I took an unknown route, walking along a deserted stretch of straight road, gravel crunching beneath my shoes, a wall of tall grass stretching over my head banking each side. No movement, no sound of human life, only the faint hum of bees hovering around a splash of flowers budding from scraggly weeds, birds flitting between branches, and the sun high overhead.
As I looked up toward a billowy parade of clouds, I noticed the bare tips of stark pine branches like arms lifted in endless surrender. I imagined God’s watchful presence peeking over those timber shoulders, towering in the wide expanse of bluest sky.
How far should I walk into the unknown, I debated.
I have children to feed, books to read, a shower to take and a family who expects me to be present.
It was then that I noticed the beginning of a new road converging right. Intrigued by where it was leading, I was surprised by what I discovered as I walked closer.
The road was actually a driveway, the entrance to a pristine house deckled with swinging fuchsia pots on a carpet of green grass, unnoticeable from my vantage point down the road. Like opening a gift you never knew you wanted, I circled around and walked back.
It is said that Brother Lawrence experienced conversion at the age of eighteen during a midwinter walk when he happened on a dry, leafless tree standing gaunt against the snow. The presence of the tree stirred deep thoughts about changes to come with spring. He spent his life washing dishes and repairing sandals, yet earned the reputation of living in the continual presence of God.
And I can’t see it but I can feel the chameleon change in the deep wells of my spirit like life returning to dry bones.
Because there is no place that God isn’t present, no destiny too distant for hope to pull us through.
What a difference it would make if we stopped limiting the sound of his voice to sermons, intentional small groups, hanging our heads over inspiring books and potlucks. And we abhorred mediocrity instead of giving in to it.
The presence of God and the manifestation of His presence are not the same thing, they are different. One is a knowing acceptance, while the other requires receptivity and action; doing something about what your soul longs to experience, cultivating surrender while remaining expectant.
We will hear him speak, when we learn to listen and desire his voice. Listening isn’t passive, it’s intentional.
If we push past the tall hedge of our insular experience, we will discover the mystery hidden from plain sight. The unexpected joy of beauty we didn’t know existed until we found courage to walk past fear into the driveway of the unknown.
We wander around looking for hope and perhaps we already possess it. We take it with us wherever we go.