I’ve walked down this street, and this exact spot, for the last 8 years more times than I can count. And yet today, for some reason, my dog pulled me to the edge of the sidewalk. I looked down and gasped. My name etched into the concrete. Clearly it had lived there for a length of time, but I never saw it until today. Funny how something so obvious can remain completely unnoticed.
The same can be said for our experience of God’s presence in our lives. He’s constant, He’s attentive, and yet we go about our day to day living with barely an acknowledgment. We pass Him by without a glance. But God on the other hand, He’s very aware of us. In fact while we are often oblivious, He’s got His attention fixed upon us. Seeing my name in the concrete caught me off guard, and immediately I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit prompting me. My physical reaction was a mirror of my spiritual reaction when I suddenly see God at work, or hear His voice. I’m surprised that He’d grant me attention. But why?
My upstairs neighbor has an automatic vacuum. Every day I hear it gliding around their apartment presumably being an efficient worker. Periodically it gets caught, perhaps in a corner or under a couch - somewhere it can’t maneuver itself out of. It pounds repeatedly, hitting hard edges attempting to break free, knocking like a frantic prisoner desperate for escape. And then suddenly all goes quiet. The timer quits and I know it’s struggle is over. Restlessness works just the same way in our lives. We’re
A tall, solitary palm tree grows on the lawn of the house next to mine. On stormy days the enormous lime colored leaves sway and bend, almost as if they are dancing. And once in a while a leaf will flex too far and snap. One morning I caught my neighbor cleaning up a fallen casualty and we chatted about the history of the tree. When he moved into the house years prior, the palm was only as tall as him, but now it practically surpassed his roof.
As we stared up at the soaring spectacle, climbing into the California skies, I asked him how tall it might become. He looked at me and said “It’s anyone’s guess as to how big this thing will get.” And in that moment the Holy Spirit had my attention. A voice in my heart said “Exactly. That’s just like my work in your life Ruthie. Just imagine how big this thing could get.” I walked away and I knew exactly what God was saying.
Life is terrifying. The journey is arduous. We weather conditions that change us and as we watch ourselves wince and recoil, we wonder if we'll survive, if we'll find our feet, our voice or our strength. But it's less about finding, and more about creating - and creation is always a process. At any point in the process it appears messy and chaotic, like disorganized mayhem or untamed energy. But with a broad lens it all builds towards something meaningful. Something bountiful.
A life fully alive craves expansion. It wants to spread out, take up space and live a little bigger. I’ve been feeling that recently. Maybe some of you have too. Feeling like your soul is stretching outward, forward even, hungry to be all that God created you to be. Maybe you’ve been dreaming big dreams, feeling the nudge towards courage, vulnerability and healing, but perhaps you've also felt resistance too.