I was sitting on our screened-in porch listening to the early morning songs of my backyard bird friends when God told me to get ready.
This is my porch. This is where I sit every morning in my robe, cradling a steaming cup of coffee and sucking in a few deep breaths of oxygen to wake my sleepy self up. I curl up on the Target patio furniture we bought on Mother’s Day nine years ago when I was pregnant with my firstborn, and keep readjusting to find a comfortable seat because the new cushions I recently bought on clearance are not nearly as thick as they should be for a comfortable seat. I am surrounded by my Bible, a journal, and a slew of devotional books waiting to deliver a message that always seems custom-made just for me.
When we bought our current home, it was newly constructed and the back porch was not yet screened in. The builders would add it, though, if we so desired and I fought for this. Can we please find room in the budget to add a screened-in porch?, I asked my husband. I want to be able to sit outside and watch our children play and drink sweet tea and count the lightning bugs but not get bit by bugs and laugh with you. Yes, he agrees to make room in the budget for this screened-in porch. I did not dream that this would be the setting for countless conversations with God when I fought for my porch, but the conversations I remember the most happen here. Get ready, Heather.
I am sitting on this porch one early morning late last summer. I’ve skipped a few mornings here because my heart was broken. But this is the week I return and my porch offers up the sweet blessings that are always there, whether I return to it or not.
The cardinal, in his brilliant red feathers, chirps out a staccato warning to the other birds that he was at the feeder first. My husband and son are not awake yet, and neither is the neighborhood. It’s just me, the birds, the breeze, and the sunrise.
I read the devotional message for that day and begin the slow process of turning my heart towards God’s voice. My mind wanders…don’t forget to pick up deli meat from the grocery store today. I reread the devotional. Did I turn in Thomas’ field trip money? Read it again, Heather. I need to edit my playlist for tonight’s yoga class. Focus, girl, the boys will be up soon.
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The morning breeze rustles the pages of my Bible, given to me by my grandparents almost twenty-seven years ago on the Christmas just after my mother died, and I close my eyes. I take a deep breath and with every exhale, one by one, I push away the scattered thoughts running through my mind. This takes time.
I begin to see the words of Psalm 119:105 floating behind closed eyelids and this is where I stay. Inhale. Exhale. Listen.
Get ready, Heather.
Get ready?? Get ready for what? The miscarriage? I know it’s coming Lord…will it be very painful? I’ve only delivered one child and he was brought into this world six weeks early via emergency c-section. I have no idea what real labor feels like. Is this what I am getting ready for? But we already know the miscarriage is coming and I think I’m ready for that. Please, let me be ready for that. Is there something else that I need to be ready for???
Get ready, Heather.
Ummm, okay. Get dinner ready for tonight?? I’m terrible about thinking ahead for dinner, so my family could probably benefit from some extra prep time here. Get ready for the weekend?? Weekends are usually busy. Sure, I’ll find time to take a nap and get Thomas’ hockey gear washed. Okay, whatever. I don’t know what I’m getting ready for, Lord, but I’ll…um…I’ll do my best! Insert furrowed brow and confused face here.
I write the two words down in my devotional book and hustle into the kitchen to scramble some eggs for the eight-year old with bed head who just came down the stairs. I go about my day and convince myself that the two little words I heard were not from God, but instead were just the ramblings of a busy mind trying to sort out the to-do list for the week.
The next morning, I return to my porch and follow the same pattern. I hear them again: Get ready, Heather. I hear them in conversation with my husband and friends. I see them in print. I hear them when my son chivalrously opens my car door for me and always asks, “are you ready, Mom?” before he closes it. Words that were innocent before now repeatedly shout at me as I go about the everyday tasks of marriage and motherhood.
The next morning, I return to my porch and decide I should pay attention. I always question whether what I am hearing from God is from Him or from me. My brain likes to say things. A lot of things, actually. And since we can’t literally hear God’s voice like we would hear a friend’s voice over the phone, I’m never sure if it’s my brain or God who is doing the talking.
Your word, Lord, your word will light my path.
whim nudge from the Holy Spirit, I decide to look up all the verses in the Bible that include these two words: get ready. As it turns out, I’m not the first person who has heard those two words from God.
I take my son to school and then spend the better part of the morning back on my porch reading through all the verses that I found and their chapters that tell the story of God instructing His people to get ready. Most of the verses revolve around preparing oneself for some sort of battle, physical or spiritual, or both. Knowing what we know now, it gives me chills when I think about how gracious our loving Father is, to have prepared me for what was to come.
Your word will not return to you empty, Father. It will accomplish all that you have planned for it.
At the time, however, I simply ask my husband and a dear friend who is a fierce prayer warrior to pray over these two words, to pray that I would be able to discern God’s voice on this above anything else.
And then I dig deeper into the chapter of the Bible where the words get ready first appear: Joshua 1.
And I listen.
Read the next step in the story here.