So, here's a shocker... I didn't journal through this journey... I mean I think that's why they call it a journal... JOURNal... JOURNey... get it? I'm supposed to document my journey! But truth be told I simply lacked the energy and mental clarity to write anything that made sense. I tried a few times, but I just didn't have it in me. So I'm praying to God for grace to give me the memories I need to be sharing with you all. So it may not be the whole story, but it's the story that God wants me to share.
I'm going to try to go in order of how this all has progressed, just so I can keep track of everything. I want to make sense to everyone. As you know, God is a God of order. We see that in creation. Everything may be complicated, but it all makes sense and has order.
So I'd love to say I'll start at the beginning, but truth be told, I'm going to start BEFORE the beginning, because that's where the story really starts.
At the beginning of December, I started to feel like my life was truly out of control. I had no job, no self-esteem, no desire to put myself in a position to lose another job due to lack of skill or focus or concentration or whatever number of reasons I was left unemployed. I wanted to badly to be one of those people who stays in the same place for 10-15 years, not because I wanted to stay in one place, but because I wanted someone to want me in the same place for that long. Weird, I know, but there you have it, that's how my brain works :).
I was also growing increasingly depressed. I was wasting my days watching DVD movies (no, you don't need cable to waste time...). I didn't have internet at home, and I didn't feel like making the "drive" to the McDonald's that is literally less than a quarter of a mile away from me, to get online there. I didn't want to waste my time applying to jobs that I already knew from experience weren't going to hire me. I was stuck, in a huge rut of despair.
So I decided to make a change. But before making this change, I wanted to take some long, uninterrupted time with my Lord. So I went to the park. I hadn't planned on sharing what He told me, but it's so fitting, I can't imagine telling my story without it!
Let me back up just a bit first. Before I went to the park, I had started reading The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. I was almost done with it, but I still had about 5 chapters left. The night before I'd planned my mini retreat, God kept me awake. Now what you may not know about me is that I can't read at night. I read about 3 pages or so and I'm so groggy I can't see the words anymore. So the fact that late at night, God kept me awake long enough to read those 5 chapters is proof of His providence.
When I first came to the park, I was astounded by the silence. It was what drew me to it. It was why I chose the park I did for my quiet reflection with God. It seemed perfect for drowning out the noise of my life. So I went to a little spot and sat down. But I found I couldn't focus because I couldn't get a comfortable spot. so I moved somewhere else. slowly I became distracted by noises I hadn't heard before, noises nature makes that I don't get to hear because I'm too busy with man-made distractions. God had me sit down and listen to the difference being set apart from the noise was making. I was still hearing noise. It was one of those "if a tree falls in the forest and no one's there to hear" situations... the palm trees always make noise when wind hits them, but do we always hear it? No...
In the same way, God is always speaking to us. He's always speaking His love, guidance, rebuke, discipline, peace, joy, revelation, to us. But are we always listening? No. But if we stop and listen, we'll start to hear that still, small Voice of our great, powerful God.
I distinctly remember feeling as though He was speaking into my heart, "you need to listen to Me." So I responded, "Well, I'm listening now." To which He responded, "Listen daily."
Little did I know He was about to take me on a journey that would make His voice and His character loud and clear. Daily. Hourly. In every horrifying, painful moment.
God prepares His people. And the beauty is we really don't know why until we look back and say the only thing we are fit to say: "Wow, praise be to God."