I peered out the floor to ceiling windows divided by mahogany wood frames at the steady flurry of swirling white flakes. I was cozy in the warmth of a heated classroom, but my bones still felt the deep chill of the Chicago winter that was foreign to my Southern California disposition.
My body couldn’t shake the goosebumps, but my ears also couldn’t shake the echo of 20,000 voices ringing loud in Jesus-jumping celebration in the huge arena I had just come from. The hub of Urbana 2000.
But through the cold and the crowds, the incredible worship and inspiring speakers, through the voice of the nicely dressed man presenting a missions opportunity before me now, there was something that rose above it all.
God’s whisper to my heart. I heard it first in the massive arena, and I heard it again in this moment while taking in winter’s beauty: Are you willing to give Me your summer?
Even after almost twenty years, that moment is clear because it’s one of the first times I remembering hearing the voice of God undeniably in my heart, knowing that He was asking something of me and choosing to respond. That winter whisper I heard in Illinois led me to Kings Canyon National Park the following summer.
I really had no idea what to expect as a nineteen-year-old driving 222 miles in my white Honda Civic up the windy mountain road to my first college summer adventure. I knew I would be living and working at the park and doing some kind of ministry.
I knew God had asked me to go so I was going.
But I didn’t know how that summer would test me, stretch me.
I didn’t know that God would use forty hours a week of clearing dirty dishes off red-checkered vinyl tables in a mountain diner to press me into Him and teach me to persevere in the mundane tasks for the sake of bringing light to His name.
I didn’t know about the rat that would share my tiny ramshackle cabin or the alcohol and drugs that would be consumed by my village-mates each night under the stars. I didn’t know how the discomfort of my environment would push me to find deeper comfort in my Creator.
I didn’t know that miles of trails, the huff of my own breath, and the prickly red Manzanitas would become the backdrop of my most treasured moments.
I didn’t know God would use what He whispered in the middle of a white winter to lead me to a green meadow surrounded by towering sequoias, a place where I would again hear His voice asking, Are you willing?
It’s been nearly two decades, and in some ways, I hardly recognize myself in that teenage girl at Urbana bundled in excessive layers or the girl tromping through the woods in brown REI boots. But I do still recognize her spirit of adventure — the spirit God gave her so she could say yes to His whispers, even when it seemed crazy to others.
But God? I recognize all of Him. Yes, He is the same.
He’s still in the business of surprising and stretching me — still pursuing my heart, still showing that He’s not done writing my story as part of His.
And again, when I quiet my heart long enough listen to the rain pelt on my back porch overhang or stroll around the block hand-in-hand with my kids, I hear God’s whispered invitation wrapped in a question: Are you willing?
Becky, are you willing to still follow wherever I lead? With your words? With ministry? With your whole life?
I know my answer will dictate the level of my next adventure.
And again I’m saying, “Yes!”
When was the first time you remember hearing God whisper to your heart?
What kind of adventure is He asking you to take with Him now?
God's still in the business of surprising and stretching us -- still pursuing our hearts, still showing that He's not done writing our story as part of His. -@beckykeife: Click To Tweet