I refuse to let this consume my thoughts. The first time I said it I was video-recording an AWANA lesson, first weeks of the Coronavirus. I looked into my iPhone and told the families. We’ll need to be sure we’re giving God more time than the news. Or social media. Because whatever—or whomever—we’re listening to most. That’s who will get first dibs on our brains.
I said it again to my sister last weekend, talking about this house we’re building. “I’m determined to keep this from consuming my thoughts.” Now more than ever, and I mean it. Now, when it’s the voice of Jesus I need to be hearing—and I can’t be muddling things up with plumbing decisions and over-thinking the great room lighting.
The true test comes at night. In dreams. And the inevitable loop of not-quite-sleeping. It was some of each, a few nights back, and I knew, waking, I should pay attention. This dream-picture image as honest as any, revealing my current state of mind. I shared it with Kyle, the next morning.
I was dreaming about our lake place. This land we love, in all its wild beauty. Two years now we’ve been watching its seasons and receiving its peace. “I’d pitch my tent and stay forever.” I’d said this from the beginning. And then, lately, before we broke ground, wondering what we should do with the world upside-down. “I’d give up the house and live in a trailer, just to be there.” And I meant it, mostly.
But before we could blink, a hole was dug, a foundation laid, walls erected. No turning back. Thus, the dream. Strangest dream. A marriage. A wedding. Between land and a house. Our land, and this house. The two becoming one, and what’s been joined together, no one can part. And there in my not-quite-sleep it hit me. We can’t turn back now. If we lose the one, we lose the other.
All night I grappled, like Jacob, wrestling this thought. Fear of loss. Dread of future. Until. I surrendered. This, too, in sleep. Opening hands. Opening heart. Giving to God what He’s given to us. The next morning, remembering. Aware. Thoughts tested. An idol laid bare. There. Full circle.
Now more than ever—it has to be Jesus consuming my thoughts. Every morning I open my Bible, open my heart. Every night, soul surrender, trusting. And listening.
Tenth chapter of John. A thief. A wolf. The Good Shepherd. My sheep know my voice. This voice, in all this noise, and I can’t let other distractions keep me from hearing. Not now, not ever. Not with this world, cacophony of loud opinion, competing for my attention and NO. No—I refuse to let anything consume me that’s not HIM. I need to know my Shepherd’s voice.
It’s a day or two after the wedding dream, and I’m driving, alone. Home from an appointment, music playing. A playlist I’ve mentioned here before.*
How I live for the moments
Where I'm still in Your presence
All the noise dies down
Lord speak to me now...
And I don’t even realize I’m listening until I notice the tears. Shepherd speaking, tenderly, sweetly. His presence, thick, there in my car. Consumed. He’s got my attention. His voice, above all the others.
I open up my heart to You now
So do what only You can
Jesus have Your way in me now...
I gasp out loud, an audible cry from a soul desperate for His Consuming. Not fear or greed or any old idol. HIM.
And I refuse to let anything else consume me, now.
When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But They will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. John 10:4-5
*Touch of Heaven by Hillsong Worship can be found on Nils Anderson’s “goat worship songs” playlist on Spotify.