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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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Dandelions are Weeds

Posted by admin in October 31st, 2008
Published in faith, Uncategorized

You know, I always get a little nervous when I hear someone say, “The Lord told me this and that and such and such.” I can’t resist saying, “Really? Did He call you on your cell?” I mean I wish it was that simple. I have never heard God’s voice. Not audibly anyway. And we’re human. We make mistakes. I know better than anyone how fallible human beings are. Hey, I am the worst case scenario. A pastor told me once, “When the Divine occurs there is always a little dirt mixed in.” In my case it is a whole lotta dirt! So if the Lord doesn’t speak directly to me in an audible voice, or if He doesn’t send me a text message, then how do I know what His will is? Not just for my life, but for my daily operations? “Hey, God, whadaya want me to do today?” “What’s my assignment?”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. The Bible tells us that God wants to communicate to His people: “My sheep hear My voice.” And believe me I am not from the dispensation that thinks God DOESN’T speak today. I believe. I do. No! I really DO believe God communicates to us today…through the Bible, but also through other means as well. Sadly though age, experience and life have taught me that the communication breakdown between me and God, well the breakdown is always on my end of things.

Learning to hear God’s voice, if that is even possible, is tough! And sometimes the most sincere, dedicated Christian (uh-huh I mean me) can miss Him or misinterpret what He is saying. But I really believe that in God’s grace and generous love toward His children, He blesses us, and sometimes He blesses our best efforts to obey Him, even if what we are doing wasn’t exactly what He had in mind. However, I think that when we yearn to obey Him, I believe He takes notice. When we do our best, I think it counts. Here, let me tell you a quick story…

Years ago I used to teach in Moscow (the big one in Russia, not the other one in Idaho). One day I showed up for class and my department chair told me all of my classes were cancelled. She said in a very heavy Russian accent, “The freshmun class must go to field to pick potatoes today. You vill have class with them in two weeks.” Okay. Potatoes. Why do they have to pick potatoes? I stupidly asked. She looked at me as if I were some kind of moron, “Because it is their turn!” Of course. How silly I am.

Honestly? I was ticked off because no one had let me know. They could have called me. I had classes that evening across town but now it was too early to show up for those classes and too late to go home for a rest (okay, for a snack).

Maaaaan! I was standing on the steps of the administration building wondering what the heck I was going to do. It was a freezing October day and it was starting to sleet. Crud! What should I do with this free time? “Lord, do you have any suggestions?” I was being sarcastic and very insincere. You see, I wanted to complain to somebody. I wanted somebody to know what I was suffering all because the stupid university didn’t let me know about freshman potato picking. Not like we have that holiday in the States.

Still bent out of shape, I headed to the Metro to take the loop train around town. Yes, it goes in circles. But it is warm, fairly clean and it would give me a place to eat my lunch and catch up on some grading. In that very grumpy, hateful, angry state I heard something. Not a huge booming something. But something. In fact, it sounded like my own voice. (And no I don’t often hear voices!) I heard, “Take the bus.”

I never took the bus in Moscow. They take twice as long as the Metro and they usually required transfers. Buses are dirty, cold and they breakdown constantly. No way am I gonna take the stupid bus. And I headed toward the Metro. I stopped. There it was. I heard it again, “Take the bus.” OH MY GOSH! There is no way on earth that I am gonna take the bus! So, why did I stop? Well, my thought process went a little like this: if I am wrong and this is not God’s voice, who cares? It’s not like I heard a voice telling me to walk naked in the streets (and all the citizens of Moscow sighed with relief). No, it was TAKE THE BUS. What would it hurt? If I am wrong, no big deal. BUT, and this is a very big but, if I am right, then it counts. You know…counts toward my bonus points in heaven. Yes, God keeps track of these things. So, as I walked toward the bus I asked God to let this count toward my bonus points even if I was wrong. “Hey, Jesus! Can this count as obedience because I simply THINK I am following you?” I hoped it did. So, I headed across the street and caught the slow, crowded, dirty, unheated, unreliable bus.

For forty-five minutes I rode that stinkin’ bus without any incidents–no one to witness to, no crises, no signs from the Lord. When it came time to get off the No. 4, to catch my transfer, I stepped off the bus and waited for the traffic light to change so I could cross the crazy busy street to my next stop. Only two of us got off there—me and a thick-ankled, head-scarf-wearing babushka with two giant sacks of groceries.

Traffic in Moscow is terrible. In fact, pedestrians are open game for drivers. Seriously, people are killed there just crossing the street because aggressive drivers don’t care. My friends and I used to say that crossing the street in Moscow was a faith walk and we always re-committed our lives to the Lord before attempting it. Once I saw an old woman hit by a car in Moscow while crossing the street. I will never forget her body flying through the air like a weightless rag doll. That image was always in my mind when crossing the street in Moscow. So, when the light turned green I started hauling it.

Halfway through the crossing the light turned yellow, which for many Muscovite drivers this is the same as green. I saw the lanes filled with oncoming traffic and I began to pick up the pace to get to the other curb. Then I heard it. A strange sort of thud followed by a groan. I turned around and it was that old babushka. She had fallen in the middle of the street; her sacks of groceries spilled out and oranges were rolling everywhere.

I looked up and three lanes of cars were racing towards us. If I left her on the street she would without a doubt be killed; if I stayed with her we were both likely to sustain some type of injury. My first instincts were to survive. But I knew that wasn’t right. So I cried out, “Jesus help me! Lord Jesus help us!” (Ann Lamott says there are only two real prayers: Help me, help me, help me! and Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!). I ran to the old woman and helped her to her feet. Her coat was covered with black gunk from the road. Her support stockings were torn and her knees were bleeding. Oranges were everywhere. I grabbed her by the arm. I screamed, “Hurry! Hurry!” She started to move and then paused, “My oranges. My oranges.” The cars were coming and we had only seconds before we were gonna get hit. Like an idiot I grabbed as many of the oranges as I could but was still crying, “Lord Jesus! Lord Jesus!” Me and the babushka stepped up onto the curb and (I swear) the moment our feet stepped up on that curb we felt the gush of air from passing vehicles. Dang! Too close for comfort. Thankfully there was a bench nearby and we both plunked down there shaking, a little bit dazed, out of breath.

I began to clean up her cuts and scrapes with Handiwipes from my purse (I never leave home without them). I managed to save several oranges, but those that were left behind were now simply pulp. We comforted each other and sighed a big relief. Then something really weird happened. With tears in her eyes she took my face in her hands and said, “You saved me. If you had not been here today I would have been killed by those crazy drivers.” Then it hit me. Had the Spirit prompted me to really take the bus? Did I hear from God?

We were waiting for the same transfer bus. When it arrived we got on the bus sat down. My babushka held my hand the entire final leg of our trip. She talked, she cried, she thanked me. Finally, in my most broken and terrible Russian I said to her, “God sent me to you today. He knows you and He knows where you are. He sent me to tell you that…(for some reason I hesitated)…He loves you.” She wept and began whispering, “Slavaboga. Slavaboga.” Praise God. Praise God.

My babushka got off the bus one stop before mine. She kissed me, gave me a couple of oranges. I looked out the dirty window of the bus and saw her waving until we were out of sight.

I don’t know. I like to think all these years later that God was directing my steps that day. I’d like to think He wanted to touch an old woman’s life; to let her know He knows her name. Simple acts of obedience form us and shape us. They allow us to view God through a dark glass and see His hand in our everyday lives. And if we attempt something, just because we think He is leading us that way, does it really hurt anyone? I think of it like this: Have you ever been given a bouquet of dandelions by a little child? Those little yellow flowers are known to all of us as weeds? Yet little kids see those flowers and pick them for important people like teachers, and mommies, and aunties, and grandparents. When a child gives you that bouquet of dandelions you take them and praise the child for her thoughtfulness. You put those nasty weeds in a small vase and set them on the kitchen table because you know what they represent. They represent something more important than what they actually are. We don’t smack kids upside the head and yell at them, “Those are weeds you idiot!” No, we take them graciously, caringly and see them as an expression of that child’s love. I think it is that way with God. When we step out in obedience, even in our own frail human way, we might get it wrong; we might be giving God dandelions. But his Father’s heart is kind and compassionate and He receives our acts of obedience as a beautiful bouquet offered to Him out of love.

Knowing God’s will is sometimes difficult, but fear of making a mistake or missing His will should not paralyze us to inactivity. We should be free to try and realize that dandelions are a good gift when our hearts are in the right place. Peace.

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27. pbishop said,
November 4th, 2008 at 5:16 pm

Teri,
Great story. I have had similar experinces, but in contrast, many times there was no dramatic finish. What’s up with that? Well, perhaps, G^D is letting me exercise obedience so I will learn to be obedient.

Take the trash incident, for example… but this is going too long.

I actually do hear from G^d pretty often, but mostly when preparing to teach Scripture. That’s a key reason for me to teach.

May G^d give you and me good hearing.

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28. admin said,
November 5th, 2008 at 7:59 am

Thanks Phil! You’re right, there are lots more times I don’t have a dramatic finish and wonder if I really heard from God. One verse I don’t hear much from the pulpit is, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” I hate learning obedience that way! Teri

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