Recently I went on a cruise, courtesy of my wonderful mother-in-law. We had a great time, she, my sisters-in-law, and I. All three of these women are Christians who make God an integral part of their lives. I went expecting to hear from God, expecting that I would spend time in the Word because these women with whom I was traveling are the kind who will encourage that. I was looking forward to it.
Well, that just did not happen. I did not have the expected time in the morning when I would pray and read my Bible. In fact, our trip did not seem to center on the Lord at all in the way that I had anticipated. Instead, it centered on rest and relationship. There was a time on the trip that I commented on this to my roommate/sister-in-law. It wasn’t that I was disappointed or felt badly about it. It’s just that it seemed odd. She felt the same way. In retrospect, I think God just wanted us to be together and enjoy one another, resting as we all needed to do so much. It was just right to have that kind of low-key downtime.
Other than that conversation, I confess that I did not think much about my lack of meditation or other spiritual exercise, so imagine my surprise when I clearly heard from God! (He surprises me that way.) I was standing on our balcony one night near the end of our cruise. In the faint light from the ship I could see the water kick up into little waves as the ship cut through it. The water was pitch black. There was really nothing to see out on the ocean; no lights, no forms.
As I stood mindlessly looking over the edge, I began to see lights coming from the deep. Little specks of glowing light, just small pricks here and there in groups. I knew some about the existence of bioluminescent marine life, being a veteran of National Geographic Magazine and Discovery channel. It was intriguing to watch in person.
As I watched these little lights in the sea, the strong message came over me that I should be mindful to watch for light in unexpected places. I wanted badly to make that message “watch for light in dark places,” after all the sea was dark, and I had been in a dark place the last two years. But that is not what was said. Rather, it was, “Watch for light in unexpected places.” (Although I can’t resist the last word on this: that dark places are unexpected places for the light!).
Standing on the ship I thought about all the unexpected ways God communicated with His people in the Bible stories: through a donkey, handwriting on the wall, a burning bush. Yes, there was definitely precedent for the God speaking in odd ways to people, although I guess for some any direct communication from God would be odd.
This ship experience came back to me this morning—a Sunday, nearly a month later. Early this morning I found an e mail awaiting me from an old friend. She inquired after me, and I replied to her, saying that I was “…taking it day-by-day,” adding that I have come to believe that the day we are in is all any of us have—not what happened in the past, not the future, just the present.
I was amazed to hear the sermon later in the morning on this very thing: living in the “now.” We must let go of the past and avoid worrying about the future. It was good to hear this on the heels of my own e-mail statement of that philosophy just earlier that morning. And it made me think of the message of the light in the seas once again, understanding that God had used e-mail (of all things) to reinforce to me something I needed this morning. The repetition of the theme caused me to pay attention and to reflect, as I needed to do. It was light from Him in an unexpected place.
So, what is the value to me of these little pinpricks of light coming from unexpected places? It isn’t that I have only now learned that we must let go of the past and not worry about the future. I have long known that intellectually—don’t always do that, but I know it. The point is not that the message was particularly profound, but rather that the message is being sent at all. I do, as a matter of fact, need to be reminded to let go of the past. But the really important point is that God speaks, and He does so in unexpected ways. The light comes from unexpected places. Sheep C, 2/3/09