Wandering Back Into the Light


Debby Howell-Moroney, her husband Michael and their, at
that time, small children Maddy and Ian, were part of our Delaware church while
Michael was getting his PhD. They moved on to Birmingham many years ago, but we
were so thankful to see them this summer when they visited the Mid-Atlantic
region. Debby is a tireless advocate for social justice, so I asked her to do a
guest blog. It’s different from what I expected, but I believe you will find it
as challenging as I did.
I am finally coming out of a long dry spell, spiritually
speaking. If you’ve been a believer longer than a week, you probably know
exactly what I am talking about. Never one to see things as “half-empty,” I
like to reflect on the children of Israel being led into the wilderness. God
rescued them from Egypt, but this wasn’t exactly the Promised Land either.
There was—and still is— a purpose to the wilderness. God doesn’t intend to
leave us there either. That is what keeps me going. God had something better,
awesome, amazing, planned for the children of Israel on the other side—they
just couldn’t see it from where they were.
God has something better for you and God had something
better for me too, and I think I caught a glimpse of it today. Back when I was
feeling loved and special and basking in His glow (while I drove my minivan to
ballet practice, changed diapers, and did mountains of laundry), my spiritual
life consisted of daily conversations and meditations with God in the most
unlikely places: the shower, while driving, or sitting in the car-pool line at
preschool. I am, and maybe will always be, a completely undisciplined and
rebellious Bible reader. I don’t want anyone making me feel guilty about how
and when and with what frequency I “do” a “quiet time.”
Thankfully, God finds a way of smooshing in through the
cracks and the spilled cans of soda. Bless Seeds Family Worship and The Donut
Man—they are largely responsible for my knowledge of Scripture, with their
catchy little jangles and funky little beats. (Those and my sweet childhood
friend who dragged me along to every VBS and Awana meeting they held at her
church.) God takes snippets of Scripture and puts meditations in my mind—often
during “McPrayers” or while humming praise music that has stuck in my brain
from Sunday morning worship.
I don’t know when He stopped speaking to me or, more likely,
when I stopped hearing Him.
Somewhere in there we stopped leading a small group at our
home on Sunday night. I stopped attending the playgroup that I have been going
to since we moved to Alabama in 2002. I no longer have a preschool age child to
use as an excuse to show up, religiously, for a recharge. Money got tight and
we got busier with the busyness of life. Our desire to be foster parents ground
to a halt as the certification process was inexplicably prolonged by
bureaucratic inefficiencies. My 2½-year tenure of hip-hop dance fitness ended
right as I was completing the process of becoming an instructor. What does it
all really matter anyway?
Sometimes I think we get lost in similar “what does it
matter” funk. We get to feeling as though we can’t make a difference on our own
in the world around us or in the world at large. It’s not that I ever really
felt like what I do doesn’t matter; I
just felt like if I
didn’t do
those things, that wouldn’t matter either. After all, what is one Bible study
group, more or less?
I received a note in the mail this week that began the
course of my redemption from this dry place. It was from Alabama Youth Home.
AYH regularly uses telemarketing to raise money for the youth they serve in
several group homes. I typically pledge 10 or 20 bucks when they call and
faithfully write a check when the pledge form arrives.
But this wasn’t a typical mailing from them. Inside was a
letter reminding me of a $10 pledge I made back in January 2010 that I hadn’t
mailed in. “Unbelievable,” I thought. Can you imagine—they were collecting on a
commitment that I had made back in January and neglected to fulfill. As I am
sure you can imagine, our budget was tight in January in the post-holiday
crunch. I had made my usual pledge, but by the time the collection envelope had
arrived, our money was nearly gone for the month and I had blown it off. What
is $10, anyway? No big deal. Right?
Why on earth would they be collecting now? That seems crazy.
Surely people make pledges and don’t pay them all the time, right? Maybe, but
it struck me as incredible, brilliant. Assuming they are coming up on the end
of their budget year and with a tightening economy, what an interesting thing
to count unpaid pledges as assets. I love it. I made a pledge; I needed to
honor it. I was convicted, and so I wrote a check—for $20—and dropped it in the
I don’t know when it happened. Maybe it was last night when
I was washing dishes and God shared the phrase, “Be a person worthy of respect,
because it is the right thing to do. Don’t do it for recognition because you
will largely go unnoticed.” Or perhaps it was in the car today when I clearly
heard Him say, “No act, done in love, is too small when it’s done in my name.”
That’s when I realized I had really missed hearing His voice. I am glad it is
back or that I am listening again.

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