I lay in my bed with my cold room lit by a nightlight, and pulled the quilts up closer to my chin. Only eight years old, the guilt and shame choked me. I closed my eyes and tried to forget, but I could still feel the hands pulling at my clothes, and the voices, coaxing me. Opening my eyes and looking around my little parsonage bedroom, there was no one there, but the fear pressed me into the mattress, even as my heart raced with the desire to flee. And slowly, slowly, as sleep crept in to claim me, I heard the whisper. I was with you.
Nine years old, I stood and stared out the window, across the street at the flashing lights. Watched EMTs—my Dad, Mr. Jack, and others—loading the gurney onto the ambulance. The rain had stopped, but mirroring my emotions, thunder rumbled in the distance as the siren wailed its way towards emergency surgery. Minutes after the silence had returned, I still stared out the window. I felt Mrs. Long come into the room, stare at me, and quietly slip out again. What do you say to a little girl who had never seen a gun until the one that sent a bullet ripping through her brother? I stood alone for hours… That night, lying in a borrowed bed, next to my sleeping mother—while my dad held vigil in ICU, I heard the whisper. I’m here.
Over the years, the whisper hasn’t always been so easy to hear. Maybe that’s part of what Jesus meant when He said we must come as a child. My eleven, fifteen, eighteen, thirty-year-old ears haven’t always heard so well. Scary words have been spoken in my life: Pneumonia. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Cancer. Chemotherapy. Sick. Barren. Unemployed. Alone. And I have needed to hear the whisper. But maybe I wasn’t ready to hear. Or maybe I wasn’t really listening.
Right now, I can hear Rich Mullins singing, “And I wake up in the night and feel the dark. It’s so hot inside my soul, I swear there must be blisters on my heart…”
I know how that feels.
And I also know how it feels to wake up the next morning so aware that God has spent the night with me that my first inclination is to check the pillow next to me to see if He left an imprint. And though I don’t, I still hear the whisper. I’m here.
A.W. Tozer reminded me: “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” (Tozer, 37)
Tonight, maybe I’ll hear the whisper again. But even if I don’t, I know He’s here.
This post is part of a weekly discussion that a group of my friends and I have been having about A.W. Tozer’s classic, “Pursuit of God.” You don’t need to read the chapters to discuss with us. Feel free to share your thoughts! If you’ve written a response to this week’s chapter, please feel free to link up your post on the widget at my co-facilitator, Jason’s place, Connecting to Impact. I’ll see you back here next week to begin Chapter 6.