God got my attention this weekend. Seriously – God GOT my ATTENTION! God got my attention in an “Okay God – I’m listening” – kind of way which honestly doesn’t happen all of the time at my house. Sure – I am a card carrying clergy person – but I am also a regular human being. I live in the real world just like everyone else. I get busy and distracted and lose my focus too. But God put an end to that over the weekend – because this weekend – God got my attention!
Jason and I were out for a walk at Broad Run. Nothing surprising about the elder McFarlands being out for a walk in the woods – but what kept happening was surprising. Really surprising.
First of all – Broad Run Park is nifty. It is downright pretty in places. We enjoy the time we spend there. But Broad Run is right here in Louisville. Broad Run is on the edge of a major metro area (for Kentucky anyway). It is highly accessible to lots and lots of people and most of the trails are actually paved! This means Broad Run is a busy – bustling place almost all of the time. The only times we have been at Broad Run when it wasn’t busy were in January and February. Even then there were some cyclists buzzing around in their sassy riding shorts declaring “on your left” as they whizzed by looking all aerodynamic and zippy-bippy.
This busyness means Broad Run is a place to look at beautiful trees. There are great wildflowers at Broad Run. We see pretty yellow finches – red-winged black birds – and stunningly beautiful indigo buntings. I can spot a great sky filled with clouds that intrigue and delight me almost anywhere.
But the truly impressive nature sightings tend to happen elsewhere – on other hikes – when we are further from the city.
Not so this weekend. Not so on this particular walk around Broad Run. From the moment we started our walk until the moment we headed home – we encountered beauty and God’s creatures that literally stopped us in our tracks again and again. We were dazzled and awestruck and delighted and amazed!
Right off we spotted two gorgeous yellow finches dining on lavender thistles in a field as we walked by. Then we saw a pair of red-winged black birds followed quickly by a bright blue indigo bunting.
Then – then right on the path basking in the sun was a baby black rat snake. She was all stretched out – completely relaxed and totally at peace with her world and our world too for that matter! We just stood over her and admired her beauty for quite some time. Seriously – she was completely stretched out on the trail sunbathing and she didn’t want to move. I informed her – she needed to pick a safer place to sunbathe. The cyclists who use the path were going to think she was a stick and ride right over her. So – we ushered her into the grass. She didn’t appreciate this at all and shook her tail at us pretending to be a scary venomous snake – but we had seen her head and knew she was just putting a show!
Oh how I wish I had brought my camera with me on this hike – but alas – no camera . . .
Then it was a fluttering butterfly – followed by another shockingly blue indigo bunting. Then as we came out of the woods Jason spotted a deer running through a field.
I watched a Monarch butterfly flutter around a field of wildflowers for quite some time – delighting in its beauty and delicate elegance.
We decided to follow a trail that meanders along the Floyds Fork River for a bit and we were delighted and amazed by what we saw along the river. We spotted a heron standing majestically along the shore hunting for its brunch.
We happened upon a huge soft-shelled turtle. I am talking HUGE! It was the size of a hubcap. And NO, it was NOT a hubcap! It had a head and the head moved!!!
Just a bit further along the trail we spied 6 turtles basking in the summer sunshine on a fallen log along the river. They looked like they were incredibly content.
But the best – the coolest – the niftiest moment of our day was when we heard two walkers about 30 feet in front of us gasp and exclaim as they appeared to clutch one another and then jump back about 40 feet!!! This of course got our attention. And wow and I glad they did because right in the middle of the trail was a great big snake! It was a grown-up – 4-foot long black rat snake casually making its way to the river for a spot of fishing.
I have lived with Jason long enough now (and I have been listening to him) so even I knew the snake wasn’t venomous. So I did the craziest thing – I ran towards the snake! Yes – I ran towards a BIG snake!!!
The snake wasn’t in a hurry and we were able to get a really good look at it. It was beautiful in a kinda – sorta strange snake-y way. I am not a “snake person” – but I am a “nature person” big time. And I am frankly intrigued by God’s creatures and by God’s creation (even snakes).
After our BIG SNAKE sighting – Jason turned to me and said – “Perhaps – we should consider the fact that God might be trying to get our attention this morning . . .”
“Yeah – Jas – I think so!?!” came my slightly stunned – awestruck reply. “I don’t think God is even being subtle this morning. AND I REALLY don’t want to see a copperhead or a rattlesnake next!”
Jason replied – “God would probably just go for an impressive thunderstorm – but you never know!”
Sometimes (okay probably almost all of the time) we get so busy living our lives we don’t even hear or see God’s presence in our lives. And when we pray we tend to spend most of that time telling God what we want God to do (when we bother to talk to God at all). We all tend to think we would be rather good at the whole “God gig” if he would just give us the chance!
We forget to listen. We forget to take those moments in our lives to seek God’s guidance for our lives. I know that I do.
We forget to live the words of Psalm 46:
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.’
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
I am spending some time this week trying to listen (wow is that challenging . . .). I am spending some time seeking and exploring and being as still as I can be (which means going for walks – I think my brain would melt out my ears if I just had to “to still” for very long!)
I am trying to be a bit more like brave – faithful young Samuel who declared – ” Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” when God spoke to him in the night (1 Samuel 3:10).
God always with us. And God is always making his presence in our lives and in our world known – but far too often we just aren’t listening or seeking or looking for him.
Listening for God – seeking God – following God – isn’t easy. It makes us vulnerable – because we might need to admit we aren’t actually in charge (we are so totally NOT in charge). It challenges us to be different than the rest of the world around us. We might sound weird (okay that isn’t new for me!). But who knows what adventures God might be inviting us on – if we are listening?
Have you listened lately? Have you let yourself seek? Have you been vulnerable enough to explore?
What is God up to in your life?
You are all in my heart – thoughts – and prayers.
In Christ and with Love –