Conversations With God

I had an interesting conversation with God the other day.  No, not a prayer.  I have conversations – you know, the kind where I say something, He says something, I say something…

People often give me a funny look when I say God talks to me, as if they expect me to start waving a sign saying stuff like “Prepare to meet thy Doom!” or something.  Nah.  The folks at my small church gave me that look when I first joined them, but since I’m a cheerful sort and often have humorous conversations with God that I remark on, they’ve relaxed.

I’ve had these conversations for as long as I can remember.  My parents, bless their hearts, just nodded and said stuff like, “How interesting.”  They were used to my storytelling, which started about the same time, and they might have thought that was just another story.  But it’s not fiction to me.  To me, God’s voice is as real as my mother’s, more trustworthy than anybody I know, and I never have to ask Him to speak up, stop mumbling, or clarify whether something He said was sarcasm or a joke.

A little girl, hearing me say God told me something, asked what God sounded like.  “Ever had a friend stand behind you and say something over your shoulder?” I asked her.  “He sounds just like that.  You don’t see Him, but you can hear him clearly.  You know His voice because you hear Him all the time. That’s what He sounds like.”

Some people say God speaks to them through the Bible, others say they have visions.  That happens to me, too, but I also get the audio version, which is better for me, since I can ask questions and get immediate answers.  I don’t always LIKE the answers, and sometimes He tells me my brain doesn’t have the words to understand the answer.  Like calculus, I guess.  I still don’t get that, either.  Algebra barely got through.

The conversation I had the other day was fairly typical.  He’s never really been able to get me to learn two things: self discipline and patience.  Especially patience.  Ever heard that old joke?  “Give me patience, NOW!”  That’s me.  My sister and I were cleaning all the Christmas decorations out of the house and putting them back into storage for another year.  We got the storage bins out of the storage building outside, filled them up, opened the door to take them back to the storage, and discovered a downpour occurring.

“Come on, God, give us a break!” I complained.  “Cut the rain off for just half an hour, can’t You?  Just give us enough time to get these boxes back into the storage building and You can let it rain all the rest of the day!  What do You say?” No response, and the rain just seemed to come down harder.  A couple of minutes passed, and finally my sister and I both shrugged.  We’re not sweet enough to melt in the rain, after all.

We lugged the plastic bins out of the house and into the storage building, getting incredibly soaked in the process, and no, we didn’t melt.  But just as I shut the storage building door and locked it, the rain stopped.  Perfectly timed.  I shook my fist at the sky.  “God, that’s not funny!” I shouted.  My sister just shook her head and laughed.  But God replied quite clearly.

“No, it’s not funny,” He agreed, sounding annoyed.  “If you had shown enough faith to wait a mere ten minutes, you would have been completely dry, wouldn’t you?”

I hate it when He makes a point so true I can’t argue.

A lot of the writing I do is at His order.  For instance, I’ve never been much into angels.  I just never paid much attention to the subject, other than the mentions of them in Bible stories.  But when I started writing a Christmas story for the Sunday School teachers in my church every year (I’m the Sunday School director) I discovered there were angels in every story, and so when I published the first collection of Christmas stories “Once Upon A Christmastime” I put an angel on the cover.  “Standing Next To A Miracle”, my second collection of short stories, is about the people who were friends and family of the people in Bible stories of miracles, but my third collection, coming out shortly (I’m planning, anyway) is all about angels.  “Angels With Attitude” it will be called.

I wasn’t planning on writing anything like any of these short stories.  I was planning to be a novelist, and already had a long list of novels I was planning to write as soon as I retired and finally got the time to sit back and pound the keyboard.  But when I finally do, what comes out?  Short stories about angels and Bible characters.  Huh.  I never know what will emerge.  I’m quite often surprised.  I usually can’t remember them, so I have to go back and reread them for myself.  I only half-jokingly remarked to my church members that I was ghostwriting for God.

This past Christmas was a hard one for our church.  Our church treasurer and a dear friend to many died of illness.  At her funeral we discovered a young man who had grown up in our church had died in an accident on his way back to his parents’ home the night before.  It was during his funeral a few days later that God spoke to me.  I never know until just before Christmas what the gift story will be about.   I always just wait for inspiration to strike, find stuff to go into gift bags that goes with the story, and type like mad when it hits.  But this time I got it during the funeral, and I was appalled.

You see, there was a story I had been planning to write for the “Angels With Attitude” collection, but I hadn’t got it on my computer yet.  God told me this story would be my Christmas gift.  I didn’t want to put it in a Christmas gift.  It’s a good story (I believe) but horribly inappropriate for any member of my church at Christmastime during our grief.  I was even more appalled when I discovered a short while later that the husband of one of the Sunday School teachers had just been diagnosed with a nasty form of cancer.

The story, you see, is about an angel of death (yeah, not THE angel of death – he explains it in the story) appearing to a young cancer patient.  I argued fiercely with God.  Okay, not argued; protested is really the correct word, since argument is a two way arrangement.  God doesn’t bother to argue.  You do it His way, or face the consequences.  What happens to me is I am placed under unction.  I heard that phrase once and thought it sounded appropriate, since that’s the sound I make: “Unnnn!”  Essentially, that means since I agreed a long time ago to do what He tells me to do, He’s going to keep nagging me until I do it.  In the Bible they called it anointing.  Wonder if any of those anointed folk felt like going “Unnn!”

He got His way, of course, but I added a letter outside the story to tell the teachers not to blame me for the story.  Apparently, God thought it was necessary for SOMEBODY to read it, so there it went.  I haven’t heard from any of them yet.  Maybe I’ll put an excerpt on my website and see what everybody else thinks of it.  Buy the book to read the whole thing.  Or look up one of the teachers I gave it to.  They might let you borrow it.  But I’d rather you buy the book.  You’ll like the other stories, too.  God said so.

Update: Just heard from a relative of the young man whose funeral I attended.  She said the story helped break her from her deep well of grief and begin to live again.  Whew!  Never try to second guess God.  I’ve learned to just ask to see the results of acting on His orders once in a while.  Got to get this third book published.

 

The Gardeners

By Peggy Perry copyright 2015
The garden path was smoothed and cleared by the gardeners gone before.
Flowers bloom, birds fly and sing. It seems to need no more.

Butterflies soar gently by, sweet scents float on the air,
The sun shines warmly on the scene. Contentment is found there.

But this is not our garden path to simply walk along.
It only shows what we must do to keep from going wrong.

Our work starts at their garden’s edge with their work finally done.
Plow the soil, plant the seeds, and work for the Chosen One.

Can it be called a heavy task to leave behind such beauty?
To spend our lives doing His will cannot be called mere duty!

The best memorial to give the loved ones we recall
Is to continue on the work for which Jesus gave His all.

God’s Goofy Gifts

I felt bad for my mom.  She’d had it rough for the past few years.  At a few weeks shy of 78 years old, she has lost the use of her legs and most of her vision.  She lives on a small pension from her late husband.  She doesn’t get out much.  She doesn’t have much, and she’s losing more.

She’s outlived her parents, which is normal.  But she’s also outlived her two youngest brothers, her husband and son in law, two nephews, and a great niece.  She worried through four of her five daughters’ bouts with cancer.  Now she was facing the funeral of her middle sister.

She rarely got to talk to her family.  They aren’t much for phone conversations, don’t like writing letters, and live pretty spread out.  Lately the only time she saw them was at funerals.  This funeral was hard because we had to go from the suffocating humid heat of South Texas to the blistering dry heat of North Texas.  For some reason, all the hotels we usually stayed at were booked solid and we wound up in a local motel currently undergoing renovations.  The only rooms we could get were not handicap accessible, and by the time we met her youngest sister at the funeral home, we were all hot, tired, and miserable.  Mom kept apologizing for being such a bother, which made me feel worse.  She was seriously depressed.

When we got to the funeral home, the director told us that at my aunt’s request, they had asked a local preacher if he could do the burial service for us since my late aunt did not have a home church at that time.  We were fine with that.  Then the guy arrived, and everything changed.

We all get blessings from God, even if we don’t always recognize them.  We receive grace and mercy, and even occasionally miracles.  But every once in a while, God will give us a goofy gift.  My mom got one that day.

The preacher wasn’t goofy.  He’s intelligent, charming, witty, and a good Christian man.  He does radio shows at the local station there and preaches at a local church.  No, what made it goofy was that he was one of Mom’s favorite radio personalities from her local radio station back home who had moved away a few years ago.  Almost unable to see him, she recognized his voice as soon as he spoke and her face expressed her surprise and wonder.

He had seen Mom’s town of residence on my aunt’s obituary and was curious to see who we are.  We all spent the next two hours talking about what he’d been doing and people we all knew and what they were doing now.  He was relieved to find we were willing and able to talk about our aunt because it’s hard to do a funeral service for someone you don’t know.

My mom wasn’t depressed after that.   She still grieved for her sister, but the depression had lifted.  When God gives you a goofy gift, you smile and chuckle and shake your head at the unexpected.  My mom is still exclaiming over the amazing coincidence (read God’s handiwork). Instead of sitting in the dark and grieving quietly, she remembers meeting someone who had always seemed like a friend to her during the years she listened to him on the radio, and who became a friend in person exactly when she needed one the most.

God’s goofy gifts lift you up.  They cheer you when you’re down, amaze you when you’re jaded, make you laugh, make you sit up and pay attention and realize God still cares.  Have you ever given someone a goofy gift just to make them feel better?  Did it make you feel better to see them perk up?  The more I think about it the more I am amazed.  God placed that preacher where he could most help my mom years before they met.

The preacher even told us he had received a serious disappointment that led him to his present location.  His prayers were answered with a solid “No” because God knew he would be needed, years later, in a different location.  I have no doubt others have needed him in his new location, but God in His omniscience knew my mother would need him and made sure he would be available that day.  It’s so nice to have an all powerful God who takes a moment out of running the universe to make a grieving old lady feel better just when she needed it most.