Yesterday was a brilliantly sunny Saturday in Orange County, the kind of day where the smog has been blown out to see by the recent deluge of storms, leaving the stunning snowy mountains as a testament to God’s breathtaking beauty, and reminding us why the first settlers to this area knew exactly what they were doing in parking it here so long ago.
For 12 hours yesterday, I was (somewhat) cooped up in a house as a part of a day-long retreat kicking off a week-long orientation for new staff of CRM Empowering Leaders, the non-profit mission organization I have recently gone full-time with as Field Staff for NieuCommunities South Africa. I gathered with 27 new staff from literally all across the United States, and even the world, for an amazing day of teaching, heartfelt worship, and slowing down to consider what the Spirit is saying to us as we move forward in missional service.
During the late afternoon, we carved out 90 minutes for silent reflection, simply choosing to refrain from speaking in order to give space to the God who often whispers. (I should mention at this point that several infants had joined us throughout this retreat day, and a rotating cadre of mothers and fathers cycled out to care for hungry cries, dirty diapers, and the near-constant need for an affectionate touch. In reality, it was a beautiful sight to be reminded of how consistently helpless a newborn actually is). Shortly after we entered into silence, Nina started crying, the 3-month little girl of Chris and Anya Gandy, who are preparing to head overseas to St. Petersburg, Russia this Fall.
I had busied myself at a reflection station full of beautiful irises, ‘considering the lilies of the field’ a la Matthew 6, as irises are actually a cousin to the lily. Upon realizing just how deeply I am filled with anxiety six weeks before leaving for 2 more years in South Africa (So much money to raise! I am really doing this! My life is changing! An old life has ended! I am confident God is directing me, but aaaaahhh!), I had not moved from this spot for about 30 minutes.
Initially, her cry irritated me, as I was already quite distracted with my own anxiety, let alone the fussing of a newborn little girl. Until I heard her father gently respond to her, quieting her in love through a tender “shh.” As he sang over his daugther, tears welled in my eyes, the Spirit gently making obvious something God must see all the time: that in fact, I am that infant, fussing and crying over needs that remain undefined, wailing at times simply to hear the strength of my own lungs, all the while refusing initially the comfort of a tender Father singing a made-up song over me, rocking me back to calm with the soft ‘shh’ of His Voice.
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)