While surfing the web last evening, I overheard my Mom talking on the phone. She was holding a conversation with my brother, who called to announce that he and my sister-in-law made it safe to their home in Chicago. My family visited me in North Carolina for my birthday (SouthernChi5.0, aye!) and although my Mom was nearby, to be sure, I could have heard her anywhere in the house as her voice carries. That shall be my excuse for ear hustling her conversation! LOL! At any rate, my Mom reared us as a single parent. My father passed when I was 5 and my brother 15. I didn’t fully realize the extent to which our financial situation changed, until I was older. My Mom returned to work after my father’s death. She worked a rewarding job as a preschool teacher, but as you know the value that we as a society place on education is not reflected through adequate compensation. Yet, the hours was conducive and allowed her to be home shortly after we arrived from school. I have lots of memories of my Mom providing our needs and quite a few wants. I knew that she was meticulous about managing her resources. I witnessed what I now know was nothing short of miraculous in terms of keeping us afloat. Our electricity was never compromised, I never was hungry and I was privy to her regulated self care that included long naps, Country Time Lemonade and popcorn on Friday nights, bubble baths with our dishwashing detergent and episodes of Dallas. While we went to church EVERY Sunday, and I knew my Mom to be a believer, I don’t recall hearing much about her faith walk. She constantly witnessed to others, and anyone who spent the night at our house on a Saturday night knew in advance that church attendance was par for the course, but I just don’t recall any evidence that my Mom was being challenged in ways that I feel like I am spiritually. As I type, I wonder the extent to which my daughter would answer this consideration about me. To what extent do we create an actual portrait of the highs and lows of living a life through Christ? How pronounced should we be in expressing the dichotomy that is visceral in the walking out of (Romans 7:21)? I’m not confident I know the appropriate response, but I would suggest engaging in a deeper exploration.
As I surfed the web, I noticed a shift in my Mom’s conversation beyond the pleasantries and acknowledgement of the wonderful weekend we’d shared. She went on, “One Sunday I was in church, in the sanctuary, and I was mighty low. I decided that I would go downstairs to the fellowship hall. There were always people downstairs who for whatever reason elected not to be in service. I thought I’ll just go sit there. I departed the sanctuary and went downstairs. Believe it or not, no one was there! I mean that never happened. I sat there, hoping someone would come in, but no on ever did. So, I decided to go back upstairs to the sanctuary. I sat down. Rev. Johnson was speaking. He said, “Someone here has been praying for their child. I want you to know that God honors your prayers! Even if you are six feet under, that doesn’t stop God!” My Mom said, she just bursted inside! That Word was for her! My Mom didn’t share on the phone what exactly was troubling her, but she received assurance, confirmation and encouragement to go onward! She went on, “I thank God at least three times for God fearing children!” I could hear the joy and relief in my Mom’s voice. Neither me nor my brother have had it easy by no means, but we know God, and that faith was cultivated by the triumphs as well as tribulations that our Mom experienced.
The world offers a lot of noise! It is loud, conflicting, inaccurate, confusing, discouraging, incomplete, disappointing, self-serving and nonsensical – every attribute imaginable in direct opposition to our God! Above all else, noise is easily accessible. We must be intentional and deliberate and consistent in finding the space to hear from the Lord amidst the chatter! It’s not always expressed in what is most pronounced, but in the small, still voice (I Kings 19:11-13). My Mom was looking for the noise, the distraction, that she’d become accustomed to. She went on the hunt for it, but in the end, the Holy Spirit, which leads us into all truth (John 16:13) led her back to the place of quiet, of solace, of conviction, in the Holy Temple, where the presence of God is both nurtured and poured upon His people, to give each of us what what we need in that moment. We don’t have to ear hustle for what we want, but we must create space to ear hustle for what we need. Thank God for grace! He that hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew 11:15).