I hug my knees against my chest, boots plunged into February sand, watching foamy waves crash onto Northern California shore. Two hundred other women join me, scattered across this quiet stretch of beach—sitting on dunes, dipping bare toes in cold water, or treading over dirt paths. The rustic retreat center is a mile away but otherwise, for this group of women, seemingly off the map. The retreat speaker invited us to spend an hour of meditation, with God. From the moment the speaker’s talk ended and for the next hour, we need to be silent—any temptation to speak reserved for communication, in our hearts, with the Father.
This is the first time I’ve considered being quiet with God, and I have never had anyone share with me that God could talk to them, that He uses our hearts to communicate with us. I had been used to praying to Him, reading the Bible and being in awe of the way God spoke to the hearts of people in the Bible. I am trying to imagine the possibility of God speaking to me, too.
White seagulls squawked and crested surging waves. I open the journal I grabbed from my bedside table at home, the one I took on our first mission trip, to Ethiopia, two years before and hadn’t opened since. Where do I begin? How does one have a conversation with God?
I read what I had scrawled out in my journal during that trip, remembering His faithfulness, His clearing the path for my husband and me to go. I want to feel His closeness now. I want to discern His words in me, His voice bringing peace, but I don’t know how to begin the conversation. So I watch the waves and then scribble down a prayer:
“Father, draw me to you. I remember how you were with us, so near, while in Ethiopia, and I miss you now. Are you here, too? What do you want me to do?” And He tells me, one of the first whispers in my heart I recognize as His, “Be. Just be, and then I will take you where you want to go.”
Previously, my relationship with God was one of convenience—me asking Him for help. So, His response—“Just be”—was something brand new and unfamiliar. I was used to striving, reaching for God—as if His life in me was something I could attain so I could be a better person. His speaking to me on the beach, whispering directly to my heart, took my breath away because it revealed that He was already here.
We are each desperate to be loved for who we already are, this very moment, not for who we believe we need to strive to be. “Just be” answers the cries of our hearts, the prayer that underlies each attempt we make to try to be more than the girl our Father has already created. Who we are, right now, with Him, is more amazing and beautiful than we can even imagine.
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
Let me tell you something girls . . . I’ve have had to learn this truth the hard way—that God’s presence is not something for us to attain, but, rather, receive. Striving to be in control was the only life I knew how to live, for so long. And it prevented me from realizing that listening to His voice within me, and heeding it, was the only path to the freedom and joy that I truly craved. Is this the case for you, too?
I would love to know your thoughts about God whispering to you, and how we might pray for each other as we surrender and let ourselves be with Him, rather than trying to chase Him down by earning His approval.
Listening with you now,