Went for a long walk in the rain on Sunday. This was not one of those sweet little spring mists that land dewy-like on budding trees and flowers, leaving as quietly as it arrives. No, this was one of those pounding storms where delicate blossoms shake in fright. On walks like this, you know that the outrageously oversized golf umbrella you’ve borrowed from your husband is not going to prevent your pants from being soaked through by the time you return. If you return.
It was kind of peaceful, though, as the staccato assault of raindrops overhead played lively counter-rhythms to the march of my splash-cymbal steps. For that one hour, I felt safely sheltered under the soft red glow of my canopy, just my Shepherd and me.
I’d been needing a conversation with Him. This transition from writing a book to promoting it had already taken more of an emotional toll than I’d expected. As we walked, I asked Him, “Lord, is there something I need to hear from You right now?” He was silent for awhile, but then He spoke. Not audibly, but unmistakably. One word.
I wasn’t expecting this word. I thought He might give me some advice about prioritizing or compartmentalizing. Maybe an admonition to trust.
Then He went on: It’s all about love, all that you do. Nothing matters more. In this next season, you need to make space to love others. Space in your heart. Space in your days.
Two days later, Greg and I set out on a drive through some of God’s most spectacular creation. Before we set out, Greg asked how he could pray for me. I answered, “Just pray that I would remember to make space to love others as I enter this new season.”
About an hour into our drive, we noticed a roadside area for viewing mountain goats. Though we’d driven this road many times through the years, we’d never seen the turnoff. This day, we were not in a hurry, so we pulled to the side of the road and walked the few yards to the viewing station. We spent a few minutes looking intently for these elusive animals, but to no avail.
Finally, we turned around to walk back to the car. It was then that we saw the bench, with this sign:
I do not know what was in the heart of this 48-year-old dying woman that led her to speak these beautiful words. But I do know why our Shepherd stopped us here, on this day, to notice them: He was answering the prayer I’d asked Greg to pray, that prayer about remembering to make space to love.
A word driven home
As if a word in the rain, or a sign on a bench, weren’t enough, God simultaneously gave me opportunities to practice this love He was calling me to remember: carving out time to meet with the three young women who approached me Sunday about hanging out with them for encouragement; responding kindly to the beleaguered and irritable hotel desk clerk; paying special attention to the shy middle-aged man behind the counter at the movie theater; being fully present to my one-year-old grandson in the middle of my busy day; coming alongside my dad as we took my mom to the doctor; helping the frazzled doctor when my mom’s appointment turned out to be a little more involved than any of us had counted on.
I hope I remember this word, love. I could lose sight of it this next hour as I email the Worship Leader Magazine people about promotional opportunities. It could slip my mind as I practice music for tonight’s worship team rehearsal. I could forget to love with the next phone call, or text, or random encounter with a neighbor on the street.
But somehow I have a feeling my Shepherd will keep reminding me.
He’s persistent that way.
How about you?
Friends, has your Shepherd reminded you recently about the importance of loving others? What an encouragement to me and to other readers it would be if you would “comment” below and tell us about it!