“Excuse me…sorry, you don’t know me…but I believe The Lord has given me a word for you, would it be ok if I shared it with you?”
It was a bright Monday evening in July 2016, I was sitting in a catering tent in Sligo at New Wine, miles from home, alone, and finishing my dinner. A mere hour before this most bizarre of introductions I had been in the throes of an emotional meltdown, which had involved getting lost on campus with two hangry children and many internal shouty claims that I was going home/wished I’d never come. I may have also been rather hangry myself (it’s a problem, people).
I had signed up to be on the New Wine team along with many close friends, thinking it would be a safe way for the kids and I to get a week away in the safety of knowing so many honourary aunts and uncles would be on hand to help. Except life is never that straightforward, and whilst my friends are the best, I had found myself stretched paper thin. A mix-up with accommodation, some general confusion trying to navigate around a new place, and two very clingy kids had left me seriously regretting my decision. To even confess aloud that I wanted to go home is troublesome for a woman as stubborn as myself…it’s not my style. But I was just worn out.
That morning, on my way to drop the kids off at the (incredible, might I add) kid’s programme, I threw up a frustrated prayer to God as I hurriedly rushed along.
“Right. I came here thinking I’d get time to properly reflect on what you want me to do with my life now, God. But it’s been nothing but rushing about, and since I’m on the AV team I’m technically “working” during ministry time, so I can’t even go for prayer. Is this all just going to be a waste of time where I go home more exhausted than when I came?!”
Now this is hard to describe to those who have never experienced it, but just as I stopped ranting my silent prayer, I felt a very clear internal voice say “Don’t worry…I’ll come to you”. I actually laughed. Audibly, in fact—such was my haughty position in that moment. “Yeah, right. Go for it.”…and off I rushed.
Four hours, yes, four hours later: “Excuse me…sorry, you don’t know me…but I believe The Lord has given me a word for you, would it be ok if I shared it with you?”
At this point I was on my own—most friends had left for soundcheck, another beloved friend was looking after my daughter outside and my son was sleeping in his buggy in the other side of the room. I was just a random woman eating her dinner in a catering tent, and now a complete stranger (named Bruce) was asking me if he could give me a word from God. The same God who told me not to worry about finding him, because he would come to me. Ok, well now I’m intrigued (but still churlishly cynical).
We began our conversation and he began telling me of private exchanges I had with God, all accurate.
Ok, I’m listening.
Then some affirmations of things intrinsic to my character, none of which would have been apparent to a stranger (some even a bit cringey). Again, all accurate. Ok…well now I’m definitely listening.
“You have a deep compassion for the broken hearted. This is something I’m hearing very clearly”—well it takes one to know one, Bruce. I know a little about being broken hearted. Keep in mind at this point Bruce literally knows nothing about me other than my name, and what he can see in front of him.
And now, the sucker punch.
“You aren’t married…but you…were?”
“And you have children, yes?”
*more being stunned* “Yes, two…I’m a widow.”
“That’s it. I couldn’t put my finger on it…I understand now. I need to ask you something, but it feels very impertinent…no…I can’t. No…it’s too much.”
“Oh, go ahead, I’m pretty unshockable, I promise.”
“Well…would you ever consider remarrying?”
Well, knock me down with a feather. It was 1.5yrs since Craig had died (I filled in some of the details for Bruce after explaining I was a widow)…his reluctance to ask me that question was palpable and I could completely understand why. That’s no time, is it?
But here’s the truth.
I had reached a point where I was wrestling almost daily with God, saying “I don’t want to be alone forever…if you want me to be alone then that’s ok, but can you just tell me/give me a sign/make it clear to me? I’m not rushing, I just want to know what you want for me.” Back and forth this one-sided conversation went, with nothing in reply. My week in Sligo was partially an attempt to clear the channels of communication and finally hear something.
And, the sledgehammer message delivered to me, a final parting gift from Bruce: “This is what the Lord is telling me loud and clear for you: He wants you to ask him. Does that make sense?”
And suddenly it hit me—my pleas with God were all about him telling me what to do. Oh, what a martyr I am. Tell me how I am to suffer and I shall endure, Lord. Isn’t that how it is? And here was Bruce telling me that God wants me to ask him for what I want. Surely not. It felt appalling to me. How greedy, to ask to find love again after having such a happy marriage. How brazen, so early on in my years of widowhood to dare to think of this.
But I was thinking it. A lot. I had just never been so bold as to ask for it.
Bruce and I parted ways and I thanked him for his words…so much to ponder. The rest of the week passed and I tossed and turned with this word and his proposition, uneasy about what that would mean.
Finally, on the Friday night, we were packing down and getting ready to go home. Two friends came and asked if they could pray for me, I happily obliged, and it was all very positive. Naturally I could explain away everything they were saying because they know me well and have journeyed with me in my grief…but then something odd happened. We had finished praying and were just standing chatting, when one of them put his hand on my arm, looked me right in the eye and assertively said “The Lord has told me you have to ask him for what you want. You have to ask him.”
I burst out laughing. Like, properly laughing. Ok God, I GET IT!!!
In that moment I finally gave into my pride and I asked God for a “someone” for the first time. Not a sign. Not a command. Just a someone. And I felt genuine joy.
Three months later in October 2016 I met that someone.
In October 2017, almost a year after our first happenstance meeting (at a gig, of all places), he asked me to marry him. I said yes, by the way.
Our year in-between was a time filled with BIG new emotions and new experiences; including 8 months of long-distance with 350 miles between us, ups and downs, turmoil and bliss (mostly bliss).
My outward writing (namely this blog) took a fairly long hiatus while I waited for it to feel right to begin again. And here we are.
Curiously, my last post was written in October 2016, two days before I met Scott. I spoke of trusting God in a time of wilderness, of waiting, of feeling numb. Two days later and that numbness was entirely obliterated, replaced by hope.
And in it all, God’s voice, so gentle and counterintuitive, forever taking me by surprise.
“Don’t worry, I’ll come to you…”
“Ask me for what you want, that’s all you need to do”
And they say he doesn’t speak to us.