I am learning so much so fast. God has taken me on the most amazing adventure this last month or so. It is amazing what doors will open before you when you live surrendered to the One who holds they keys to all the doors!
To begin I would just like to state that I often find myself surprised about how much I don’t know. Many of the things that I don’t know seem to fall in the category of “Christianity 101”. I don’t know some of the basics. For example, I know about The Trinity. I could explain them to you in theory. However, I don’t actually know The Trinity.
I have had an ongoing dialogue with The Lord that looks like this:
“God, which one of you do I address in prayer? If You are in Heaven and The Holy Spirit (HS) is on earth, then do I pray to HS and He relays the message back up to you? Or, if Jesus is in my heart then does He make intercession FOR me from IN me? Is Jesus seated at Gods right hand or in my actual heart? Is asking Jesus into a heart even a real thing? I confessed with my mouth and believed in my heart that Jesus is Lord. Does that mean that He literally resides in my heart organ? Or, is my heart a metaphor for my mind,will, and emotions? In that case Jesus actually dwells in my soul? And who in the world is the HS and what exactly is His role in my life? Why do some people call Him THE HS and others call Him just HS? I feel Him all over me. Does that mean I am “filled with Him”? Is He like the yummy cream filling in a Twinkie? Please God settle this for me!”
You know a story is going to be good when someone prefaces it by saying “I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried”! Well, this is going to be a doozie. Disclaimer: This post may challenge your religious thinking. Not everyone lives life expecting weird supernatural encounters. No worries friend. I didn’t used to either. Once I learned that the word “weird” is actually defined as “pertaining to destiny”, I started embracing the weird. I own it now 🙂
So one day I was driving alone in the car and I struck up a conversation with whatever part of The Trinity was listening. I made a wild guess and pictured the HS sitting in the passenger seat. I was complaining about how frustrated I get when my kids ignore me. I asked for extra grace and wisdom to run my home. I told The HS that I bet He could relate. It seems as though He is the most ignored person in the church. (Solid burn)
What happened next was most unexpected. My “invisible passenger” suddenly spoke up. He said “You are having trouble understanding me because of my name. HS is an adjective and what you need is a noun. Please, call me Hank.”
Me: (almost driving off of the road) “Get behind me satan! Um, I mean, WHAT WAS THAT? HS did you just casually invite me to call you HANK??!! If it was really You then You would have known about me that the only thing I would find more confusing than calling you HS is calling you Hank! I picture a hitchhiker in a red flannel shirt when I hear the name “Hank”. I ain’t doin’ it.
I proceeded to turn my back toward the passenger seat in an effort to ignore my weird passenger. Before I did I got the impression that He had big gentle brown eyes, dark hair and a beard, an actual red flannel shirt, and a big smile. The smile stuck with me. It was the smile that one only has when they know something that you don’t know. It was more of a very joyful smirk. Maybe the church has it right. Maybe He is the weird One of The Trinity. Maybe He has gone rogue. Maybe I should just join them in ignoring Him.
A few days passed. I began questioning if any of that had actually happened. Out of nothing more than morbid curiosity I decided to look up what the name “Hank” means. I have learned That God often times hides meaning in names. I was hoping that definition would help to settle in my heart that I wasn’t actually certifiably crazy.
I now understand why my invisible hitchhiking passenger was smiling so big. It turns out He did know something that I didn’t know. The name “Hank” means “authority of the home”. If I had been driving when I read that I would have most assuredly run off of the road! Only My God could put an end to my confusion AND define His Spirit’s roll in my life with just one word! He is Hank, and He is in charge of my home.
I smiled a smug smile of my own. It WAS God talking to me (through the HS) and I wasn’t actually crazy! I smiled even bigger as I thought about being welcomed by God to go casual with Him. He created the world, yet He gave me a personal name for Him. Lastly, I smiled as the following scenario played out in my head…
“Kids! You better stop ignoring me and pay attention! Don’t you make me get Hank!”
A few weeks have past now and I am getting comfortable with Hank. I call on Him by name to guide me in affairs of my home. I even have the best visual of Him now. I picture myself sitting down and having a casual conversation with this guy…
I’m learning how to be a friend to Jesus. Simple, right? It isn’t for me.
You see, I know the song “I am a friend of God”. That implies we are friends, right? The Bible tells us that Jesus calls us His friends (John 15:15). I believe the Bible is true. Therefore logically I am Jesus’s friend.
But I didn’t realize that the title “friend” isn’t just bestowed on me. It’s not a badge to wear. It’s not credentials to frame and hang on my wall. Friendship with Jesus takes RELATIONSHIP. I am learning this one the hard way.
Every day since our world shut down from Covid 19 I have been spending my mornings with God. I get up at 5:00, go outside, make a bonfire, journal, pray for my friends, read scripture, and listen to podcasts about Him. I have done this for weeks now! It has been great quiet time and so have learned a lot.
During this time I have even started asking Jesus questions that I have learned from having had leadership coaching. “Jesus, check in! How are you feeling? Is there anything you need? What is on your mind? What are you dreaming about?”
This morning I felt the warm familiar presence of Jesus. I know it’s Him because He is the one who walks with me in my garden. His presence is unmistakable. He has a sense of humor. He laughs with me at silly things that nobody else would get. He lovingly provokes and instigates comical verbal sparring with me sometimes. He’s a hoot! The religious Jesus I learned about in church is so boring compared to my friend Jesus!
This morning I asked Jesus to check in. He actually said “you know, I like bon fires too”. I wasn’t sure I heard Him right. Ok, so Jesus likes fire. Now what? “Jesus what do you need?” He said “I’d like a seat at the table”.
That cut through me like a blade. Here I was spending all of this time outside praying, listening, journaling, and learning, and I never invited Jesus to join me. I completely left Him out. The realization that Jesus was a friend to me and I was a lousy friend to Him crushed me. There was no condemnation in His voice. He just asked for a seat next to me by the fire.
There is a table by the fire pit. There is one chair there…mine. So I pulled up a second chair and invited Him to join me. There was a large and exceptionally creepy spider in His chair. I laughed and asked Him why in the world He would ever have made such a thing. Then He sat down and began to poke the fire with a stick. Epic morning.
So if you drive by my house in the morning and see me talking to a chair, just smile. Jesus and I are just “checking in” with each other. And don’t judge when I start offering Him s’mores…
Worlds Longest Blog Post About A Very Epic Beginning… Our story begins with me crouching down in the kitchen hiding from my 3 and 4 year old children. I’m not proud. I was holding something tiny, gold, and very dead in my hand. His name was Turbo. Turbo was our “pet” snail, and he had apparently drowned in his water dish.
I was hiding with the stupid dead snail because I needed to buy some time to think about how I was going to tell the kids that their treasured snail was dead. He was very dead. No question about it. His shiny gold shell was see-through. We often marveled at how cool it was to watch his heart beat through the shell. This time his heart wasn’t beating. At all. He was oh-so-very dead. Poor fella. Who knows how long he had been dead in his water dish? But he was definitely very dead. He wasn’t even mostly dead. It is very important for you to know how very very dead Turbo was. The snail was definitely a goner.
It was a shame that Turbo had most definitely died this time. I say “this time” because the last time Turbo was at deaths door God healed him. Oh yes my friend. You heard me. God.healed.a.snail. Oh I know how crazy I sound. Imagine how crazy I felt trying to explain it to my kids.
You see, My 4 year old son first found Turbo crawling on our pool early in the summer. None of us had ever seen a bright gold metallic snail before. He was magnificent! He almost glowed! Of course we had to keep him. We jumped on the internet and began learning all about snails. We made a habitat for him. We stopped swimming in the pool so it would produce algae for him to eat. We gave him tons of rotten fruit. He was a happy little snail…until one fateful day when my son accidently launched him off of the pool and on to the hard cement below.
My son was choking back tears when he brought Turbo inside. “I didn’t mean to hurt him! I was just taking him for a walk. I thought he might want to get out of his home and go on a field trip with me to the back deck!”, he sobbed. I took a close look at Turbo. His beautiful gold shell was cracked worse than an egg. I didn’t know what to say or what to do, so naturally I hopped back on the internet. Sadly, the only information I could find clearly stated that a cracked shell is most definitely always fatal for a snail.
As I was debating whether I should attempt to put nail polish on the crack or duct tape (you know, so at least I could console the kids by telling them that at least I tried SOMETHING) , a thought came into my head. What if we laid hands on the shattered invertebrate and prayed for him? It was a hail mary attempt at best, but at least I wouldn’t have to cut microscopic strips of duct tape. So I did what any reasonable snail mother would do and grabbed the anointing oil, Ahem, I mean olive oil out of the cabinet. Turbo wasn’t going down on my watch!
I held Turbo in my hand and called the kids in. We each touched him with one finger. I muddled some sort of super religious prayer with big fancy words. I assumed that the holier the prayer sounded to my kids the more they would believe that I had done literally everything possible to save our precious “pet”. At least we would know that my lack of fancy praying skills wouldn’t be the reason that he croaked. I nailed it!
We put turbo back in his home and brought him some fresh algae. I tried to reassure the kids that Turbo would be “good as new” in the morning. I kissed their sad faces, tucked them in bed, and said “God’s got Turbo”. Then I went downstairs to rehearse which reason I would give them as to why they woke up and found Turbo dead. I was debating between “It wasn’t God’s will”, “God needed another angel”, and “He didn’t get his healing on earth but he’s healed now in heaven”. I decided to go to bed myself and just wing it with the excuse when I woke up. “After all”, I told myself, “kids are resilient.”
Early the next morning I sensed a presence in my room. As I clawed my way out of a deep sleep and in to reality, I saw the shape of my son. As my eyes began to focus I realized that he wasn’t alone. He held Turbo in his hand as he climbed in bed with me. “Mom! Turbo has a new shell! God healed him”. I shot straight up, partially out of confusion and partially because there was now a snail in my bed. I cleared the sleep from my eyes, put my glasses on, and reached for the snail. I thought I was being pranked.
I couldn’t believe what I saw! Every place on Turbos shell that had been cracked the day before had a sealed ridge on it. It literally looked like the stupid snail had been to an auto body shop overnight and had been welded back together. You know, welded with shiny gold shell welding material or something. Or maybe God used caulking. Who knew? Not me! So I left my son jumping on the bed and hopped on the internet again. Nope. Snail shells don’t regenerate on their own. I was at a total loss.
Then another idea crept in. What if God had ACTUALLY healed the snail? Could He? Would He? Was my prayer just so good that God couldn’t ignore it? Was the olive oil magic? WHAT JUST HAPPENED? One thing I knew for sure…that snail was special! Or maybe God was just weird. Regardless, it was now settled in my heart that Turbo was most definitely “our pet”.
So back to me hiding in the kitchen. In light of the previous snail welding, I have to confess that I was disappointed to be holding a dead body. The little guy had grown on me. As I crouched down next to the dishwasher I had a conversation with God. I’m not going to lie, it was kind of disrespectful. “Um, God? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?????!!!!! I literally just explained to my kids how you healed their pet. We all experienced you reaching down from heaven to touch our snail and our hearts. Turbo taught us that you care about your creation. Turbo showed us that you do creative miracles. Turbo taught us that you care about even the silly things that vex us. We experienced YOU because of this silly snail. Now all we have is a shiny gold welded shell as a shallow reminder. Do you care, or don’t you? I’m confused.” That was all I could manage to get out before I heard the pitter patter of my kids running in to the kitchen.
“Hi mom”, my son said. “Whatcha got there?” Busted. I had no time to think so I just said the first thing that came to my mind. “I was just getting ready to call you and your sister in to help me pray for Turbo. It seems he is not feeling well. I think he might have had too much water last night.” I know, I know. As the words came out of my mouth I felt like a complete idiot. It was the best I could do considering that I had just been caught hiding in the kitchen with a dead body.
So my son grabbed my daughter and I grabbed the olive oil. Again we each placed a finger on the tiny gold shell. It was unclear to me whether the kids actually knew that Turbo was gone, so I prayed a very vague prayer. I didn’t want them to know that this was a “raise the dead” situation, so I said a simple “heal the sick” prayer so as not to point out the obvious. We all said “amen”, then I slipped Turbos tiny lifeless body back in his home. I swallowed hard, and then whispered “Please God, don’t smite me for lying!” under my breath.
Later that afternoon I saw my son and daughter outside harvesting algae off of the pool. Turbos home was outside with them. I braced myself for the worst. I was now certain that they had discovered that Turbo was dead, although I wasn’t sure why they were still harvesting algae for him. I went to our treat basket and grabbed some candy to take to the kids. I was hoping that candy would help to “soften the blow” of learning of Turbo’s tragic demise and Gods sudden disinterest in our pet. I mentally rehearsed my “he got his healing in heaven” speech, took a deep breath, and slowly stepped outside.
When I got close to the kids I suddenly realized that they weren’t alone. You could not have convinced me in that moment that ghosts don’t exist. I had to blink a few times because I wasn’t sure I was seeing correctly. Yup. It was definitely there. Turbo was adhered to the pool and taking an afternoon stroll. Behind him was a fresh “snail trail” of slime. I got closer just to verify that the snail in question was definitely Turbo and definitely not a ghost. Gold shell, Check! Gold ridge over the formerly broken gold shell, Check. Beating heart observed through formerly broken but now welded gold shell, check. Definitely Turbo and definitely alive. I’m not going to lie, I don’t think it was a “hallelujah” that came out of my mouth.
“Whatcha guys doing”, was all I could manage to say to my kids after I had gained my composure. “Hi mom! Turbo is feeling better so we decided to take him out for another field trip. Oh, and he needs fresh water and algae.” “I’m so glad he is feeling better”, I said still in disbelief. “What do you guys think happened? Why is he suddenly alive, -I mean- well?” “God healed him again”, they both said matter-of-factly. They didn’t even look up when they said it. They just kept gathering algae like it was a perfectly normal day. I retreated slowly back in to the house like a complete coward.
I had either just witnessed my second creative miracle, or I was certifiable. I wasn’t sure which one. As I watched my kids play on the back deck I started talking to God. Again, I was a bit disrespectful. “Um, God? WHAT WAS THAT? I can’t even explain what happened to myself, let alone my kids! What is with you and this snail? Did you really just heal a SNAIL twice? My best friend just died of metastatic breast cancer. Did you give her miracle to the stupid snail?” It was just too risky for my heart to believe. There was too much at stake. I ended my prayer with “God you are just so weird”. It was the only “respectful” insult I could think of to hurl at God.
But God wasn’t through with me yet, and he certainly wasn’t through with Turbo. Turbo enjoyed a lovely summer with the kids. He slept upside down in his home at night, and ate fresh algae and rotten fruit in between field trips to the back deck each day. His weld ridge filled gold shell shone brilliantly imperfect in the summer sun. As the kids began to lose interest in their pet, I slowly took over caring for him. I’m really more of a dog person, but that silly snail had really grown on me. I even caught myself affectionately calling him “Lazarus” from time to time.
In late summer the unthinkable happened. I woke up one morning and realized that I had forgotten about our tiny pet. The kids hadn’t mentioned him and I had otherwise occupied myself with the business of “momming”. As I walked downstairs I tried to remember the last time I had fed Turbo or even checked on him. I got close to his home and stopped dead in my tracks. Evidently it had been quite a while. The smell was awful! I no longer held on to the hope that Turbo had managed to survive my negligence. The scene was horrific. There was rotten fruit and rotten snail all tangled together in a putrid web. I could barely tell where one stopped and the other started. Both the fruit and the snail were growing hair, I mean mold. He was no doubt, unmistakably, deader that dead this time. He was barely recognizable. Alas, such a tragic end to such a cool pet!
It WOULD be tragic if that was ACTUALLY the end. But our story doesn’t end here. You see, I had learned some things along the way. I had learned that I can’t kill that which God has ordained to live (with my apologies to all of the dead succulents in my house). I had also learned that clearly what I say in a prayer doesn’t matter. I had prayed a fancy prayer the first time, and I had straight lied to my kids in prayer the second time. The snail didn’t live BECAUSE OF my prayer, it lived IN SPITE of my prayer. I also learned that my kids clearly had more belief than I did. It wasn’t a stretch for them to believe that God would heal their snail. They inspired me to let go and start believing like a child again. Lastly, I had always been told that a person was healed (or not) solely based on their level faith. Those with faith were healed. Those without faith were not. Yet, the weirdness of the great snail healings had now caused me to reexamine this belief. How could the snail have faith? He was dead. Ah, and he was a SNAIL. Snails cant have faith, can they?
You know who else couldn’t have had faith for healing because he was also dead? Lazarus. And I bet he was just as stinky as Turbo. With the story of Lazarus fresh in my head, I put on gloves and a mask and removed the gold ridged shell from his hairy home. I held him in my gloved hand for a minute, then checked for a heartbeat. I wanted to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything. Not only was there no heartbeat, but there was no discernable body. Only the shell (and the smell) remained. Yet, I couldn’t seem to put him down. “Why not go for it”, I dared myself.
I didn’t bother with the oil this time. I simply thanked God for all that He had taught me throughout our journey with Turbo. I read the story of Lazarus out loud over Turbos shell. Like Jesus, I thanked God that He heard me. Then I mustered up as much childlike belief as I could and commanded Turbo to “Come Out!” I opened my eyes and waited. Drumroll please…
Nothing. No triumphant resurrection. No sudden manifestation of a new body. No heartbeat. Just a gold ridged shell with mold. “Oh well”, I said as I put the shell in a cup. It wasn’t a total loss. At least we had a cool shell to keep. It would forever remind us of the summer that God used a tiny snail to teach us about His weirdness, I mean His greatness.
I have taught my kids since infancy that there are no sad endings in life thanks to Jesus. Jesus redeems EVERYTHING. If the bad guys look like they are winning, it just means the story isn’t done yet. Hang on for the end and see how Jesus redeems the good guys! If the good guys are experiencing tragedy that just means the story isn’t done yet! Hang on for the happy ending! There may be bad guys in their lives. There may be tragedy in their lives. There may be sadness in their lives. But, that isn’t where their story ends. It just means God isn’t done writing the end yet. Hang on for the happy ending.
Guess what? Not only did Turbos story NOT end in death, but it had the happiest of endings possible! I think Turbo would agree that he had a happy ending. Up until that summer I would have never imagined that a snail could feel happy. But then again, I would have never imagined that a snail could be welded or raised from the dead twice either. You heard me right. TWICE. Yet there I was, scooping up a very much ALIVE snail from the cup I had placed him in earlier that day. I put his bodiless shell in the cup by the sink, and discovered him walking around the rim of the cup later that day when I went to wash dishes. I couldn’t make this up if I tried. I assure you that this is all gospel truth.
Turbos story ends with him being surrounded by his whole family. We decided that it was time to let our miracle snail go. Together we released him in to my garden on the back deck. He could eat all the rotten fruit he wanted to there, and it was right next to the algae tub…I mean pool. He would always be our first pet. He would always be our weirdest pet. He would forever be the reason that I got to know “Weird God”.
Weird (Adjective) Connected with fate or destiny; able to influence fate.