The mercury in our thermometer is dipping, along with my desire to ride out another New England winter. I never thought I would be so jealous of geese. That unmistakable honking is actually geese laughing at those who can’t fly south for the winter. And the V-shape flying pattern? Just a reminder of the warmer climate where I won’t be heading: Virgin Islands. Granted, at least I don’t have to fear being golden and crispy, spending Christmas at a timeshare silver platter with apple sage stuffing and a side of mushroom gravy. Warm, but not in a good way.
The fear of impending arctic temperatures had me itching to go outside one mild November morning. As I was homeschooling our children, I noticed their attention was plummeting due to the gorgeous autumnal scene beckoning from the bay window. Surely their eyes had more glaze than an Easter ham.
I decided to chuck the planned lessons and allow the kids to learn more from an hour of exploring God’s world than they ever could from a textbook. When I announced that we were going for a walk, the kids awoke from their lesson-induced comas. I wiped the cobwebs off their brains and bundled them in more layers than a club sandwich, for the temperature had dropped below seventy and my blood was thinning.
The crisp, clean air punctured our lungs as we stepped outside and allowed autumn to intoxicate our senses. We inhaled the scent of decaying leaves as we crunched through their corpses of crimson reds, rustic oranges, and earthy browns. Their colors reminded me of apples, pumpkins, and cinnamon, and I suddenly felt the urge to bake a pie.
The half-naked trees stretched their arms to the heavens and reminded me that even when we are losing our leaves, we should still praise God for His goodness. We headed to the beach and trudged through the barren sand. There is something achingly beautiful about a beach that has been stripped of humans for several months, and I felt mildly guilty for disturbing its solitude.
The kids ran freely into the wind, stopping only to collect seashells, which had been laid out for them like hundreds of tiny Christmas presents from the sea. As I surveyed the stark beauty of the moment, the feathers of tiny tears tickled my face.
Just when I thought nothing could disturb this reverie, I heard the sound of a goose honking, no, laughing at me from overhead. No goose was going to ruin my mood with his fowl play. I started to sing:
“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…”
My four-year-old piped up, “Mommy, please stop singing now.”
I didn’t think the singing was that bad, but apparently Simon Cowell had appeared in miniature form beside me.
“You need to stop singing because I hear God talking,” Nate explained.
Now I wondered if God was sending a prophetic message that my singing had to stop.
“What do you hear?” I asked him.
“God is talking. Don’t you hear it?”
I stopped and listened, but all I heard was the wind and the waves. “What does it sound like?”
“The wind! The waves! Don’t you hear it?”
I love it when I’m reproved by someone who still has to use a step stool to climb up in bed. This young child was hearing the voice of God when I was too busy making noise to hear it. I listened more carefully and realized that the only way to hear God is to shut out the rest of the world.
Be still, and know that I am God.
I thought of Elijah, who was told by God to go out on the mountain and wait for the LORD to pass by. Elijah waited through the hurricane, earthquake, and fire, only to hear God in a gentle whisper.
1 Kings 19:13-14
When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
My response? Um…you told me to come here?
Elijah’s response: “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty.”
Bingo, Elijah. When we seek God and we are zealous for His presence, the world will be drowned out by His whisper.
As I surveyed the deserted beach, I shivered, but not from the chill in the air. Everything in creation was speaking to me–even His geese. I had learned to hear Him in a still, small voice and a honk.