Category Archives: God’s voice

Into the Cloud

I came across a verse this Sabbath afternoon while working my way through HeBrews: a Better Blend. I don’t think my author-friend, Leah, meant for me to park my thoughts at this particular verse for any length of time; nevertheless it parked alongside me, keeping company with my soul for the last several hours.

“The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” –Exodus 20:21

Where God was.

Where was God? In the cloud – shrouded by thick darkness. Moses knew it; the Israelites knew it. Still and yet, they allowed their fear to overrule any measure of faith. Moses? Well, he’d been down that road with God before, back in those beginning days when his fear might have kept him from the greatest faith-adventure of his life. Instead of giving into the fear, Moses approached the darkness—the burning bush, the throne of Pharaoh, the Red Sea. Why?

Because God was in there, in those places of great testing. Moses, better than the Israelites, valued the presence of God and understood that, sometimes, it’s in the darkness where the Light is most radiantly revealed. God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. But in the darkness, when we cannot see clearly for the thick fog surrounding us, God’s light is a holy, welcome resource.

We should not fear the unseen. Just because we cannot see the light doesn’t mean that the light isn’t waiting for us just beyond the veil. Sometimes the way through is clear and obvious. Sometimes, it’s only by taking those initial steps of faith into the cloud that the light will be revealed. Sometimes, it’s our steps forward that bring the sacred flame into focus.

Not long ago, I stepped into the cloud to meet with God. Was I afraid? A little. But like Moses, there was a greater fear that penetrated my heart – The fear of not taking those steps forward. I think that Moses, like me, clearly knew that God had something more for him (beginning at the ripe young age of 80) . . . something beyond the routine of sheep-tending on the plains of Midian. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with sheep-tending. Sheep-tending is a good living unless God wants to move our tending to the other side of the pasture, or in Moses’ case, the other side of the Red Sea.

Every now and again, we have to be willing to let go of good pastureland in order to take hold of God’s Promised Land.

And so, I said “yes” to God and stepped into the thick darkness surrounding my “yes.” Do you know what I found once I did?

His extraordinary “yes” on the other side, brilliant light radiating deeply into my heart and bathing my soul in peace. Why? Because God was there. God is there, and God wants me to be where he is.

Friends, I don’t want to live my life beneath a cloudless sky if it means missing the beauty of a trust-filled walk with the Lover of my soul. I don’t want sunny skies if it means I cannot have the thickness of God’s presence surrounding me. I don’t ask for the darkness; I much prefer sacred revelation without it. But I’ve walked with God long enough to know when he’s inviting me to a deeper level of trust. This is one of those seasons. Accordingly, I have stepped beyond the veil in recent days, and I have seen with my own eyes and felt deeply within my soul what it is to move beyond my fears and to walk with faith as my anchor.

Have I crossed the Red Sea? Not yet, but I’ve dipped my toes into the waters of anticipation, and I’m ready to make that journey through on dry ground.

This is faith from the inside-out, all the way through to Canaan. God is there. He is my next, and he is my peace . . . for the journey. I can’t wait to read the next chapter in this crazy book called “My Life.” Thank you for joining me on the road.

PS:The winner of a surprise gift from Lisa Dixon is Cindy from Letters From Midlife.

Leave a comment today for a chance to win a copy of Leah’s new study, HeBrews: a Better Blend. It is a fascinating, challenging dig into the life of faith. I hope you’ll take advantage of this soul-stretching resource!

Also, have you heard about my summer-combo book deal? You can secure copies of Peace for the Journey and Beyond the Scars for $20 (includes shipping – USA orders only). I’ll be happy to sign them for you and get them in the mail this week (sent media mail). You may order through paypal using the link below or by contacting me directly by clicking here.


Living Faith-Attentive


“Be on guard, Elaine. You’re going to see a snake. Be looking for a snake.”

God’s voice couldn’t have been clearer in my spirit yesterday afternoon while I was out for an afternoon stroll. His certainty forced my immediate, audible response.

“Yes, Lord, I’ll be watching for the snake.”

One lap around the block, then two, almost three before a thunderstorm blew in and interrupted my search. No snakes in sight, just a caution in my spirit that lingered inside of me throughout the nighttime hours.

“Be on guard, Elaine. You’re going to see a snake. Be looking for a snake.”

Morning came, this Sabbath morning. My body ached, and my heart was heavy. Not today, Lord. Can’t I just call in sick … sit this one out? I’m not feeling it. I want to live in, not out; stay close, not expand.

“Be on guard, Elaine. You’re going to see a snake. Be looking for a snake.”

There it was again. A reminder to stay vigilant. Watchful. Faith-attentive.

And so I did something I don’t normally do on Sunday mornings. I grabbed a pen and began counting the fish—the blessings in my life. I kept writing and writing until it was time for us to make our way to corporate worship. My body still groaned its resistance, but my heart was lighter. Faith had taken the lead, while my feelings took a break.

With the van loaded and spirits lifted, we backed out of our garage. It was then that I saw it out of my driver’s side mirror. A water moccasin slithering its way across my driveway and up the Crepe Myrtle planted next to the basketball goal. I watched it for a long time. Thought about it for a long time. I’m thinking about it still on this Sabbath afternoon – a time normally reserved for napping.

“Be on guard, Elaine. You’re going to see a snake. Be looking for a snake.”

And I’m thinking on it. Pondering snakes—the ones that slither through our front yards and the ones that slither through our hearts. How often they go unnoticed in our lives, camouflaged and quiet in their approach. Real and present danger close at hand and, most of the time, we’re caught off guard because we’ve missed the warning.

“Be on guard, Elaine. You’re going to see a snake. Be looking for a snake.”

Oh the vigilance of the faith-attentive heart! For eyes to see, ears to hear, and a willing heart ready to receive and believe the voice of God’s Spirit as he speaks.

I don’t want an overgrown heart full of weeds and worries and wickedness that block the ear-splitting whispers of the Holy Spirit. I want the thunderous clap of God’s clarity ringing in my soul as I walk this earthen sod. I’m weary of the world’s words—those clattering, clanging, and banging cymbals of nothingness. God save me from those hell shrieks—those sounds that will never speak me into the folds of heaven but, instead, hasten me into the bowels of permanent torment.

“Be on guard, Elaine. You’re going to see a snake. Be looking for a snake.”

Be on guard, friends. You’re going to see a snake. Be looking for a snake.

It will come quietly in the night; boldly in the day.

It comes now.

May God grant you his voice, his protection, his direction, and his strength to stay faith-attentive as these days are growing shorter. The kingdom draweth nigh. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.

Peace for the journey,


the most potent, practical prayer for our children

God’s Word instructs us to pray about everything. With prayer and thanksgiving we are to present our requests to God; accordingly, his promise to us in return is his peace—a measure of settled, heavenly comfort moving in to replace (or at least temporarily cover over) the disruptions of our hearts (see Phil. 4:6-7).

My heart’s been disrupted lately. How about you? Anything weighing you down and pulling you to your knees in search of answers?

My prayers seem to run in cycles. Whatever is most pressing (finances, church life, vocational strains, marriage, children, etc.) usually takes front and center when I entreat the Father with my thoughts. I wish I could say that I have this prayer thing figured out. I don’t. I wish my prayer life was more consistent. It isn’t. I wish I heard God’s voice more fully in my moments of concentrated conversation. I don’t. Instead, my prayer life is a strange mixture of half-hearted discipline, charged emotion, good intentions, and words that, more often than not, fill up a space rather than release the power of the Almighty.

Still and yet, I pray. Partly because of a long obedience to the practice, but mostly because there have been many times when my seemingly feeble attempts at communicating with God have yielded powerful, peace-filled results. Prayer works. All I have to do is to look back at the forty-seven plus years of my life to realize that where I am today … who I am today is the sum-total result of God’s willingness to move on my behalf because of the prayers of the saints.

Not that God couldn’t have brought me to this point of being the woman I am all on his own. God IS and does shape his children according to his great purposes. But I do believe he gives us a voice, his heavenly consideration when we bring our heartfelt petitions before his throne. Prayer is how we exercise our free will alongside God’s will. I don’t understand it all; I don’t need to. I simply believe in this joint, holy cooperation between the Father and his children to accomplish his great purposes upon this earth. Which leads me (and I realize it’s taken me a while to get here) to today’s rumination—the most pressing, on the front-edge-of-my-heart prayer.

What is the most potent, practical petition I can offer to God on behalf of my eldest sons?

There’s something they need today, something more from God that I’ve yet to see unfold. Accordingly, what could I ask of the Father that might hasten the process along? After all, isn’t that what we’re doing with most of our prayers, asking God to move on behalf of our requests?

Prayers for God to love them? No. He’s already loved them to death – literally. Nothing I can say can change the measure of God’s love for my sons. After all, they were his children before they were mine. God sets the standard for perfect parenting, perfect loving. Asking him to love them more is, well, a bit redundant. So I move on from there.

Other practical prayers. Prayers for good health? Good mates? Good jobs? Good friends? Good decisions? A good day? Well, certainly I run through these on a regular basis, some of them receiving more attention, more words as it pertains to the most pressing need of their daily existence. But really, these fall short for me; these feel more empty than full, like I’ve missed the mark somehow in my parental prayers.

And so I pray about it, a long while this morning and the better part of last night’s slumbering. God, what is the most potent, practical petition I can offer to you this morning on behalf of my eldest sons?

God speaks to me through his Word.

This is how to pray, Elaine; this is what you must ask for them: That my will be done in their lives on this earth as it is done in heaven (see Matt. 6:9-13).

He wouldn’t tell us to pray along these lines unless there was a need to pray along these lines. Somewhere between heavenly perfection and earthly attempts at the same, there is a line that separates the two. What is perfectly lived beyond us is not always perfectly lived within us. But I believe there’s a measure of it made available to us – our God’s perfect will unfolding before us even now, even as we live in this sin-sick, sin-saturated fallen world. A strong measure of how-it-is-done in heaven even as it is imperfectly done on this earth.

And this, friends, is the most potent, practical, and, yes, perfect petition we can offer to the Father on behalf of one another, eldest sons included. That God’s will might be made manifest in the lives of those we love; that he might orchestrate, push, prompt, and put in the paths of our children those people, situations, and even stumbling blocks that will bring them in perfect proximity with the perfect plan of heaven. All those other prayers we pray for them? For health, mates, jobs, friends, good decisions, and good days? Well, I’ll never tell you not to pray them. I would, however, tell you that all the temporal gains on this earth matter little if they don’t match up with the eternal gain of forever.

When God’s heaven cracks open just enough so that a little bit of it falls upon earth in radiant manifestation and speechless splendor, then we know that our prayers have moved the heart of God. That’s what I want – radiant, God-ordained heavenly movement in the lives of my eldest sons. The rest of it—their health, mates, jobs, friends, good days? Well, I don’t imagine they’ll get through this life without some heartache as it pertains to all of the “rest of it.” But this I do imagine . . .

When heaven drops down into their hearts, all of the “rest of it” can be lived in perfect peace and with abundant hope.

This is my mother’s prayer. The most potent, practical, petition I will offer on behalf of my eldest sons today.

Father, thy will be done in their lives, on this earth, even as it is done in heaven. Amen.

As always, friends . . . 

Peace for the journey,


Do you want to get well?

“When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’” –John 5:6

Do you want to get well, Elaine? So whispered the Holy Spirit to my heart this past week.

Of course, Lord, I want to be well. I am well . . . right? Even before I uttered my response, I knew the answer. Otherwise God wouldn’t have asked the question. God doesn’t waste words with his children. God speaks them as they are needed.

Being “well.” What does that look like for you? Feel like? Live like? The culture we live in dictates a wide variety of responses to this question. Soundness of mind, financial security, health of body, a stable family, and a charitable life, are just a few of the barometers used by society to measure personal wellness. But what do you use? How do you know if you are well?

I’m asking myself the same question, and I’m doing so in the context of Christ’s sacred conversation with the invalid at the pool of Bethesda some 2000 years ago (see John 5:1-15). I’m backing into story and into an understanding of wellness by examining its contrast—what wellness isn’t.

Wellness isn’t:

• Lying on a mat for thirty-eight years waiting for the waters to be stirred.

• Lying on a mat for thirty-eight years waiting for the waters to be stirred.

• Lying on a mat for thirty-eight years waiting for the waters to be stirred.

Yes, you read that correctly; three times over. I tried to come up with more bullet points to further define the contrast. Given more time and more deliberation, I’m sure I could come up with a fuller definition, at least as it pertains to understanding what wellness is not. But I have an inclination that there is one or two or ten of you out there, like me, that could hear these words and have them be enough to shake you up, wake you up, and grow you up. There is nothing about lying on a mat for thirty-eight years that is going to bring you and me any closer to gaining the healing we long for, the restoration and wholeness our Father longs to bring to us.

What loves us closer to wellness is our willingness to stop making excuses and to start walking with Jesus. Just start walking with Jesus. Healing and wholeness take time. I am not devaluing or disrespecting the timetable attached to the process of getting well. I’m forty-six, and I still have work to do. But unlike the invalid of Jesus’ day, I know who Jesus is, what Jesus can do, and how I can be well. I don’t have the benefit of ignorance to coddle my excuses. I have truth on my side—an entire Bible’s worth of hope at my fingertips, holy words from the holy God that can be wholly trusted with the wellness road.

Do you want to get well? Have your “thirty-eight years” been too many years? Today is the right day to begin your healing walk with Jesus. Roll up your excuses, pick up your mat, and pick up the Word.

The waters have been stirred. There is no time to waste. Movement wins. With Jesus, movement always wins.

Peace for the journey,

Do you want to be well? What is one tangible way you can move forward with your wellness today?

On Nagging God…

“At that time I pleaded with the Lord: ‘O Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.’ But because of you [referring to the Israelites] the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me.
‘That is enough,’ the LORD said. ‘Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.’” (Deut. 3:23-26)


My son has perfected his nagging. How do I know this? Because, more often than not, I’m officially nagged. Weary worn from his tactics of repeated negotiations and hugely bothered by the fact that he doesn’t know when to quit… when my “no” is a “no” and why it isn’t wise to cross over that line. For the record, I’m not much of a “no” momma, so when a “no” rolls off my tongue, I think, perhaps, it confuses my son and fuels his will for the debate.

Just a little more persistence, just a little more obnoxious determination, and I’ll wear her down.

Sometimes it works, especially when he was younger. But now that he’s approaching puberty (and I’m approaching forty-six), he’s got less wiggle room for negotiation tactics, and I have less patience for entreating them. Things might be easier now if I’d have said more “no’s” to the dinosaurs at the Dollar Tree when he was three years old, but there’s a huge divide between dinosaurs that cost a dollar and purchases that exceed that amount by fifty times. Fifty dollar purchases must be weighed carefully in any household, and for a boy who’s prone to whims over reason, even more so.

Nagging notions + wasteful spending = selfish, temporary pleasure.

I know. I’m not so unlike my son, especially when it comes to nagging God about something rather than letting his “no” come home to roost in my heart as acceptance. Fortunately, I have a bit of age and life experience that allow me to sometimes see past temporal gain. I know something of nagging and wasteful spending and winding up with far less than what I’d hoped for. Accordingly, when I now receive a “no” from God, I’m more willing to accept it without need for further explanation. God sees better than me, and his forecast for my future is more expansive and far lovelier than what currently can be seen from my dining room window.

Moses was a nagger, not so unlike my son and me. He, too, wanted something he couldn’t have—immediate access to the Promised Land. Unlike me, he had open access to a conversational God and didn’t have to wonder about God’s response to his desire.

“That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.”

God shut Moses down, because God saw better than Moses—a future more expansive and far lovelier than the current reality claiming Moses’ feet. God saw past the earthly Promised Land. God saw the Promised Land of eternal consequence. God saw heaven. God saw home. And God knew that saying “no” to Moses’ nagging was a gain for everyone in the end. Moses would no longer have to deal with an obstinate people; instead, Moses could go directly through the gates of forever and live in peace with his God, his Friend.

Nagging notions + God’s understanding = limitless, eternal pleasure.

Sometimes, we just have to wait for it, friends.

How much energy are you wastefully spending in nagging negotiations with God today? When have you heard his “no” only to be confronted by your willful “yes”? If, by all accounts, you’ve been given a “no” by God, then will you trust that it is for your good and for your gain?

Today, as I’m sitting at my dining room window and contemplating all things Jesus, I am tenderly and willingly confronted by God’s rebuke to Moses. I receive it as my own and fall to my knees in conviction for the nagging agitation that I’ve contributed to his ruminations in recent days.

That is enough, Elaine. Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.

God sees better than me, and his forecast for my future is more expansive and far lovelier than what currently can be seen from my window.

Nagging notions + God’s understanding = limitless, eternal pleasure.

Knowing this… I know enough. Canaan is the eternal “yes” that allows me to see beyond God’s “no.” Today, I rest there while living here, and all is well with my soul.

Blessed, sweet peace for the journey.

PS: From a random drawing, the winner of Lisa’s book and a set of Cindy’s cards is Denise! In addition, I chose Leah to also receive a set of cards from Cindy. Ladies, please check out Cindy’s etsy shop and let me know which design you’d like. Once I receive them from Cindy, I’ll send them to you.

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