“Won’t be Long Now.”

It was an ordinary Monday when I drove over the mountain pass into the Port Alberni Valley for a doctor’s appointment. “Do I have a meniscus tear and can you fix my arthritic knee so I can keep playing squash into my dotage?” I was pondering the question as I passed signs at the summit warning of stoppages and construction. But nothing demanded that I apply the brakes and my visit went well with advice to stretch, keep cycling, and play if you want to.

I drove back up the winding road rising out of the valley, now heading for Chemainus down-island to have lunch with my daughter before she returned to London. Cresting the top of the pass I was met with an amber flashing light and a waving stop sign. No other cars were in sight, but soon trucks and vehicles formed a long snaking line behind me. About two hundred yards ahead I saw the headlights of oncoming traffic waiting beside another stop sign. Between us stretched empty road with no evidence of construction taking place at all.

We idled minute after minute. Stop signs held aloft, silence in the cool fall air. The road ahead barren blacktop bereft of any signs of life. “Why are we waiting here?” I muttered to my empty car. Five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes went by. It seemed ridiculous. “We could have driven through, whatever we’re waiting for is not happening.” I shrugged and debated whether to get out and walk the twenty meters to question the woman holding the stop sign. Find out what on earth was going on? In my side mirror I noticed a figure striding up the road wearing reflective gear and a hard hat. Silver tresses dangling over her shoulders the woman passed my car. “Hello lady friend,” she said as she approached the flag person, her next words lost in the distance and the wind as they conversed.

Smiling she turned and made her way back. I rolled down the window. “What’s going on?” I asked.

“Oh, they’re taking down some trees along the road and have stopped the traffic just to be safe. It won’t be long now.” She smiled and continued on her way. True to her word, a few minutes later the sign flipped to ‘slow’ and we were waved ahead. I gave the flag person a thumbs up in thanks and she responded with a wave.

I thought about what had transpired on my drive to Chemainus and all the way home after that. During the entire incident I did not have a single spiritual thought, neither was I looking for any great meaning, or expecting a word from heaven. But in the reflection came the revelation. It slips in quiet as a cat drops to the ground and sneaks up beside you. I used to think that when God spoke it would be loud and obvious, perhaps with a drum roll or at least some drama. Over the years I have learned that more often than not he speaks in a whisper, a breeze, the faintest stirring; like the soft gentle purr of the cat that grows louder with a welcome petting. It’s about acknowledging, receiving, believing, then seeing – in that order. Purr-fect love cast out fear?

Jesus promised that ‘his sheep’ will hear his voice (John 10:27). He pointed to the sky turning orange over Galilee in the sunset and spoke to his disciples about paying attention to the signs (Matthew 16:3). He said, “Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear (Matthew 13:16). Read Matthew 13 where Jesus uses common images like wheat and weeds, fishing nets, and mustard seeds to teach about his kingdom. Why not, “The ways of God are like a man on the highway from Port Alberni?”

And so, on this very ordinary Monday, when I had no expectation of any revelation, and my thoughts were not deeply spiritual, the whisper came.

“What did you observe driving into Port?”

“Signs warning of construction but no one stopping the traffic. I didn’t have to wait coming into town.”

“On the way out of town you were the first car stopped. Head of the line. Front row seat. You were able to observe everything ahead?”

“Yes, I could. But nothing was happening as far as I could see.”

“So you questioned, and at least a little frustration was rising.”

“Yes it was. Until that woman in a hard hat emerged and told me about the cutting of trees behind the tree line along the side of the road. Even though I couldn’t see the reason, when she explained it all made sense.”

And then came the interpretation.

When God speaks through pictures or circumstances details are important. Initially of course my attention was focused on my situation and how this might apply to me. I had already climbed the pass out of town and was near the summit, cresting the hill. Leaving a place I had been for many years. Front of the line. A stranger in a hard hat conveyed a message (God will always find a way to communicate with us in a manner that we can hear and receive. Even through a complete stranger). In a car (journey). On the road ( a common metaphor for the journey of life).”Won’t be long now…” (possible breakthrough?).

Now I’m sharing it with you for you to consider.

There are some people leaving a familiar situation, in transition, moving into a new season or venture. Yet you find yourself stuck. Initially everything appeared to be going well as you were moving forward. Then, unexpectedly, you were stopped by circumstances beyond your control; certainly not anticipated. Time is passing and nothing is happening – as far as you can make out. You are becoming discouraged and despondent – as if God does not see or care. Others may be heading into a new situation and face the same dilemma. You were on the threshold of entering in when an unexpected roadblock grinds you to a halt. You look ahead and can’t see anything or understand the purpose, why?

For those leaving and for those entering the waiting seems frustrating and pointless, even unfair. There is a reason. Be assured, God is at work, sometimes behind the scenes for our own welfare. Because we cannot see or understand it does not mean that he is not present and active. Timing is everything. Take heart, “It won’t be long now.”

What do I do with this? How do you know it is God and not just wishful thinking, or imagination?

Good question. Jesus meant it when he said, “Become as little children.” Not implying that we be childish, but rather innocent, trusting, curious, open. As we grow older and gather more scars from living it is easier for us to become cynical. We lose our wide-eyed expectation and analyze to death, question, and over-think. I have valued education and life-long learning all my life. I love pursuing reason, facts, testing, debating, questioning, and not gullibly believing anything. And that is good. Except when listening to God simplicity and child-like faith is routed through my heart and spirit – before the brain. The nature of God for me rests on a foundation built over years based on my intellect, research, life-experience, and past encounters with him. At the core is a confidence in the character of Jesus and the Father’s love. I know that his voice always aligns with Scripture, never condemns nor shames, and is for me not against me.

Those are some of the elements largely in my sub-conscious that I consider when I think I’m sensing God’s whisper. A good test is to go with the first inkling, what you first sense or hear/imagine, and pull on that thread. If we wait too long we get lost in over-analysis and will lose the joy that comes with the innocent(not naïve) hearing. Then it’s rather like picking up that cat and enjoying the roar of the purring as you embrace its presence and affection. How do you put that into words? Simple being, pleasure, comfort. Even dare to pretend it is God and true, rather than give credence to chattering doubt and allow cynicism to always have the final word until yo have nothing other than, “If only”. Share with a friend, test, taste, and you will see and hear. Listen to your heart and spirit, quiet the brain, it’s not always wise – in the beginning.

Those are some reasons why I received the metaphor as an encouraging word for me and my situation. It is very pertinent and timely, to be honest. It gives me hope and a sense of comfort to know that God sees, hears, and is present – more than I sometimes realize. I forget so quickly. I began to write this incident down for the blog and in the writing made reference to Jesus saying, ” Let those who have ears, hear”. Later I sat down and flipped through a daily reading book I sometimes use. The reference for the day was Matthew 13 which contains that very phrase. Then I randomly read a psalm (44:1) that began with listening and having ears to hear. Even I could receive the message and listen up. You always know when its God’s voice, because he communicates as a loving Father desiring to encourage us and give us hope – without judgement or condemnation.

“It won’t be long now.” That’s the word for some (I don’t think only me) in this season. And there maybe other words tucked into these lines especially for you that no one else will see or hear. So be sure to pet the cat. Acknowledge, receive, believe, see. Who knows? God? Right beside you? It’s the message of Christmas and his gift to you and me. Even on an empty road in the cold among the trees, an angel may appear in a hard hat with good news. “”It won’t be long now.” Imagine that!

Good news of great joy for you and me today. Not just a dream and a story 2,000 years old in a little town of Bethlehem. We don’t have to wish we were there, then – when he is here, now. He thinks he’s the cat’s whiskers!

When You Speak

Jeremy Camp

I find it’s always the lie that is loudest
I know the One with the power
Is never the one who is shoutin’, shoutin’
I lean in, I know that I need to listen
Through all of the thunder, You whisper
Even in doubt, You are with me, with me

Like a love song that I’ve always known
Your word hits me deep inside my soul

When You speak
I’m found in the sound of peace, be still
The wind and the waves bow to Your will
You drown my fear with a love more real
Than anything, anything I feel
When You speak
When You speak

I know You’re not the God of confusion
Why do I feel like I’m losin’
My mind, every time?
I can’t see what You’re doin’

Like a love song that I’ve always known
Your word hits me deep inside my soul

When You speak
I’m found in the sound of peace, be still
The wind and the waves bow to Your will
You drown my fear with a love more real
Than anything, anything I feel
When You speak
When You speak

It’s a holy melody
Set in Heaven’s perfect key
Redemption’s frequency
Healing me, healing me
It’s the Father whispering
Mercy over every need
Breaking through and breaking free
Healing me, it’s healing me

When You speak
When You speak
When You speak
I’m found in the sound of peace, be still
The wind and the waves bow to Your will
You drown my fear with a love more real (love more real)
Than anything, anything I feel
When You speak
When You speak

When You speak
(When You speak, when You speak)

Source: MusixmatchSongwriters: Benji Cowart / Jeremy Camp / Micah Darrel Kuiper

When You Speak lyrics © Capitol Cmg Amplifier, Only In You Publishing

John Cox

Christian Author and Counsellor

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