Just a nudge in the pre-dawn thoughts on a Wednesday morning in late January–like a poke from a friend on Facebook.
I woke up and knew I was to speak at my Dad’s memorial service. I also knew exactly what I was supposed to say.
Now understand, Dad wasn’t dead or dying. Yes, he was 88-years old and in assisted living, but he was still very much alive and ornery as ever.
But that prompting in my spirit was undeniable. I emailed two of my siblings and asked them if they would agree to my speaking.
Both said, “Yes!”
Here is some context. I am the youngest of my five-sibling brood. My oldest brother is a world-class preacher. It would seem that upon my Father’s passing he, as the newly crowned patriarch of our family, would have been the likely candidate to speak to and for us.
Seems a bit presumptuous for the runt of the litter to claim the podium.
But there was that nudge…and that message.
Skip ahead to March. A gut-wrenching call from my oldest brother letting me know my nephew had died unexpectedly. I put the phone down and heard a whisper. “You’ll be doing this memorial service.” I sat down and began to write…no hint of the request in sight.
Seemed out-of-place. Didn’t make sense. But the next morning my niece asked me to speak.
That memorial service at a packed church sanctuary fronted by nearly 150 uniformed fire-fighters, heard a message poured from God’s heart through mine based on only a hint that I would be His channel of hope and comfort.
Fast forward two weeks. With blinding speed my Dad’s health failed and he passed. Memorial number two cast its shadow on my grieving heart.
I had not shared with anyone the substance of Dad’s eulogy that had been given to me that January morning. No one knew that I was basing my words around what was one of my Dad’s signature sermons. He called it, “The Cedars of Lebanon.”
As we stood in the receiving line a man who knew my Dad but didn’t really know me shook my hand and said these words: “Your Dad preached one of the greatest messages I’ve ever heard…The Cedars of Lebanon.”
That’s all he said. Then he moved on down the line toward my siblings.
I was speechless. Shocked at this little whisper of confirmation.
Later in the service, my oldest brother read some comments from an elderly preacher who was my Dad’s dearest friend. As Hal read, the bulk of the reflection was quotes from the manuscript of one of Dad’s sermon.
You guessed it, The Cedars of Lebanon.
Another whisper…but a bit louder. It appears God knew I needed some assurance.
You see the final years of Dad’s life were somewhat chaotic and painful for my family. He made some choices that left us wounded and nearly cost us any relationship with him.
God was able to redeem some time for some of us, but the truth is the relationship was nothing less than complicated.
I believe that’s why God woke me in January and spoke some words into my heart that could bring a measure of healing to those wounds as we said goodbye to this beautiful, broken man.
But I am becoming aware that for me there was a lot more to these divine inklings.
My wife and I have been praying for a number of years about some big dreams we feel God has dropped into our hearts.
To say that we have been disheartened at times by delays, distractions and dead-ends is to understate the reality.
These recent whispers in our dark moments–the unexpected nudging of an unpredictable God–have encouraged and awakened our hearts again.
As I have seen a common but hidden thread that has been running through so much of what I’ve felt, read and experienced in the last year, my requests before God have taken on new urgency. Something is in the air.
Oh, it’s not much. But that seems to be God’s M.O.
- First it was “a cloud the size of a man’s hand” after seven rounds of prayer during a seemingly endless drought. (1 Kings 18:44)
- Then it was a “still small voice” after the noise and chaos of a firestorm while he was moping in a cave. (1 Kings 19:12)
In both cases, it was a quiet impression that something was coming. An encouragement to keep asking and expecting.
Is there some place in your life where you’ve:
- Heard a gentle whisper that’s breathing life into a dying dream?
- Felt a small push to take the first step in a scary new adventure?
- Seen a little sign that sparked new interest in an old idea?
That’s what these gentle prods to my spirit have been for me. Honestly, the circumstances felt like a sucker punch to the gut.
Turns out, what I needed was just a swift quick in the ask.