Sunday, February 28, 2010

Does anybody hear her?

I missed the mark, today, and it has me troubled.

I was sitting behind a woman, this morning, in church that was broken. I've been called out on my use of the word before, so let me clarify. It was not her look that spoke to me; it was her heart. She was heavy on my mind and I couldn't make out why. I didn't know her - hadn't met her before - but her face was all I could see. I tried pushing it aside so I could worship [real noble, right?], but the Holy Spirit kept bringing it back. I finally opened my eyes and saw tears streaming down her face. I instantly heard the quiet words of Casting Crowns', Does Anybody Hear Her.

I took her in, while the loop ran through my head. She is running...A hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction...Her face showed years of hardship. She is trying...But the canyon's ever widening...In the depths of her cold heart...I could tell she hadn't slept in weeks. So she sets out on another misadventure just to find...She's another two years older...And she's three more steps behind. The same pain that wracked her mind was written in the faces of her nearby husband and young girls. Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see? Or does anybody even knows she's going down today? That line punched me in the gut. Under the shadow of our steeple...With all the lost and lonely people...Searching for the hope that's tucked away in you and me...Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?

We were settling into our seats getting ready to hear the message, when I heard the Lord say, "Ask her if there's anything you can do for her." Okay. Sure. No big deal, right?

Service ends, her family gathers their things and I throw my God-given word to Ben like any totally confident, God-fearing, woman would do...."Honey, grab those people and say, 'hello'."

Yes I really did this!

I was answered with a quizzical stare and in the time it took me to halfway explain why, they were gone. My heart was pounding, hands sweating. I raced after them and threw another half answer to Ben, before I was off. While I zigzagged my way through the lobby I thought of all the things I could say. Here's where a little slap in the back of the head would have been helpful. I didn't need to think about all the things I could say. I needed to think about the one thing the Holy Spirit had asked me to say.

She was just reaching out for the lobby doors, when I breathlessly pulled myself together and mustered a weak, "Hi."

Good start, poor finish.

I don't know why...but I couldn't bring myself to ask her if there was anything I could do for her. It seemed too lame (just being honest). Too broad.

I mean, what if she thought I was creepy? Or what if she asked me to do something I couldn't do? Or what if she asked for money? I thought about playing the odds and just throwing a handful of gift cards I knew I had in my purse, at her - can't everyone's problems be solved with Starbucks, Chili's, and Barnes and Noble? I know. LAME. It all sounded a lot more helpful in my head. My bright idea stopped short as soon as I realized said purse was in the car. Darn.

Instead, I rolled with [and this was sincere], "The Lord put you on my heart and I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself. We are so glad you came to church, this morning." I knew she was a visitor because she raised her hand for a visitor's card. As soon as the words left my mouth, she started to cry. She went into how her little boy had just died before Christmas and this was the first time she had left the house...Somebody knew somebody that knew the pastor (who did the funeral) which brought her to us that morning.

I hugged her. Told her how sorry I was to hear that...and how thankful I was that God had led her to Grace [the church]. We talked a bit more. I complimented her girls' long hair and watched her walk out the door.

I blew it.

The interaction wasn't cold or abrupt or awkward, but it also wasn't Spirit led.

Why did I have the better idea? Why couldn't I just ask the question I had been given?

God has asked me to say and do some pretty funky stuff that never made me flinch....I once told a suite-mate in college, after only a few weeks of knowing her, that the Lord had woken me in the middle of the night to tell her that her health concern was valid; she had an STD. I told her the next morning. [We also prayed for complete healing, which came later in the semester]. Talk about creepy! That should have made my knees shake...but I was strong. In the Lord.

Today, I failed.

The part that digs the deepest has nothing to do with the woman. Thank God, he doesn't depend on me to make his plans work. Someone else will reach out; someone else will ask the question. It's not her, I'm worried about it. It's me.

What has taken over my life that the voice of God is faint and his tasks far between? Where did my God-given confidence to walk out love disappear to?

Apart from him, I know that today's little mishap could have gone unnoticed. But I'm choosing to share it because I want the exposure. I want to be found out. I want my heavenly Father to reveal unrighteousness in me. I want to be better. I want to be more.

I love that Casting Crowns' song. Under the shadow of our steeple...With all the lost and lonely people...Searching for the hope that's tucked away in you and me...Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?

I don't ever want to be accused of not seeing. What a waste to have the hope in me stay tucked away!

I am praying for my friend, by name, tonight. Praying that whatever it is she needed from me she received from another Believer.
Praying that God will continue to use me and whisper opportunities to my heart...

I'm also praying that everyone reading this would be reminded that there is a world of lost and lonely people that need the hope of Jesus. Don't make my blunder. Listen for the voice of the Lord and see his people.

Really see them.


  1. Thank you so much for opening up and admitting something that is so hard for many of us to do. So many times I have done the same and it then plagues me for days, and yet, how do I continue to do it again? I'm sure the woman felt accepted in a small way because of yo saying hello and allowing her to open up to you. Perhaps that will be what causes her to come back next week. Please keep us updated. I will be praying...

  2. Hi Rebekah!
    I totally hear you. Many times I ignored what I was supposed to say because I felt I would be judged.
    It sounded lame so I opted for something else... but my something else was always wrong!
    Thank you always for your wisdom and grace
    Many Blessings

  3. Thank you for sharing Rebekah! I have missed the mark SO many times and continually pray that I really hear God, even in quiet whispers. Take comfort that sometimes He gives us second chances with those that He puts on our hearts.

    At least you reached out to her! There are many times I try to quiet God with my earthly rationalizations. "Oh, I am just being nosey! Surely they would reach out to a church staff member if they had a real need." I know. I am so lame!

  4. Beautiful post. You have just confessed something that we're all guilty of at different times and stages in our lives. Thanks for being real and for challenging us all to really listen to God's call for us.

  5. We have all blown it at some time or another. I can still picture certain people that I should have said or done something to or about. I guess the real lesson is to remember next time you/I hear that small, still voice, that we will be quick to obey and not even hesitate. I just finished reading The Fear of the Lord by John Bevere and one of the points he made was about obedience. That true fear of the Lord is being obedient even when it isn't advantageous to our lives, that hit me hard, because how many times do I disobey because it will be potentially embarrassing or hard or take too much time, or whatever. I just want to love Him and obey Him when ever He prompts me.
    Thanks for sharing, I really needed to know that I am not the only one that this happens to. I love how real you are and willing to expose your imperfections. God bless you, Rebekah, and thank God for His grace :)

  6. I will pray for her as well, Rebekah. I hope that she makes her way back to your church and that your smile will remain with her this week.

    I have made this mistake so many times myself, I wonder if I've actually desensitized myself to the Holy Spirit's nudge.

  7. are wrong. You didn't fail at all! Sometimes all you need to say is "hi" and it makes such a difference in the person's day. There are times when I am down in the dump and a simple smile from a stranger makes my day better...makes me realize that there are caring people out there. People like YOU! You made a difference :)
    Have a wonderful day!
    Heather B.

  8. You chased after her. That was hard. This has happened to me so many times, and its nice to hear someone else be honest about it. I to want to be bold and not afraid. Thanks for this post Rebekah.


  9. but you DID hear her and you DID see her.....she knows this and i'm sure she is thankful for the kindness and love you showed her no matter what exactly came out of your mouth....maybe next sunday you can ask her is there is anything you can do. :)

  10. Don't second guess yourself. What you did do was great - you gave her a chance to talk, to meet someone with kindness, and to unburden a little.

    It's hard to answer when someone says "can I do something for you?" - it's hard to answer that to a friend, let alone a stranger. If she even knows, she likely won't feel like she can actually say.

    You actually did *do* something for her. And if I had to guess, I'd say that was the point, and she probably really, really appreciated it.

  11. This is a great post and is very convicting.

  12. I agree with others - you DID do something - and your actions and words and kind heart likely touched this woman. Maybe it will help her decide to return to church, where you will be able to see her again and ask the question you feel you missed. Perhaps the first meeting wasn't the right time?

  13. Sometimes it doesn't require an explanation or in depth detail for a person to know what you're saying. You may have said just the right words for the moment.

    Just a thought too, though, maybe if your pastor knows who she is you could give her a call or bring over a cooked casserole. A friend of mine recieved just that after visiting a church, and they didn't come inside or talk about anything, just gave her the meal and wished her a good evening. She said it wasn't weird because she felt thought of and wasn't put on the spot. Anyways, maybe you could find some other way to reach out if that's where the spirit leads you.

  14. Wow you are wonderful. I have had my eyes brought wide open by you. Thank you so mcuh!

  15. The best part is, you reached out to her, and I admire you for that. You spoke to her, and made a point to welcome her.

    You will see her again, I just know it.

  16. Have to agree, you did something great. Having been in a similar situation on the women's side. I had just received news that our adoption we had been preparing for for 4 months had fallen through. It was our first miscarriage (never had a failed pregnancy). I was in public, devastated, crying hystically, and trying (not well) to be quiet. As I gathered my belongings to go (run) home, a stranger approached and offered me his prayers of support. He didn't even know the situation, just that I was obviously upset. Now almost 3 years later, I still think of him when I think of the situation. What you think is a simple small gesture, was huge to her. I guarantee it. It will bring her comfort more than you can imagine

  17. This was such a timely post for me. Through some trials that I've been going through lately, the Lord has really been showing me how important it is for me to follow through with those nudges that He places on my heart to reach out to others.

    I've been painfully reminded that, it's not only the visitors that we need to make sure to reach out to. Often times there are people in the midst of our congregations, work lives, families, etc...that we have to make sure we are reaching out to, also.

    Thank you for your transparency in this, Rebekah!

  18. Been There! Done That! Hang in there. You are amazing! I have also been where the other woman has been. I wish someone would have just said Hello...and expressed that they cared at all. Praise God I have come a long way! Just keep shining:) Mollie (Ohio)

  19. You did do something for her. You showed her some compassion and God's love. I can't imagine her pain. I hope she comes back and can find some peace.

  20. I think you did a wonderful thing. Saying hello to a soul who is so lost, is like a light. Your story brought tears to my eyes, since I've been lost too.

  21. Thank you for being so honest about this! Yes, you didn't say what the Spirit prompted you to but, you did not let her leave w/o saying anything!! I've done that before!! And boy, that is a hard burden to carry for awhile!!
    It sounds like you handled it wonderfully, showed her the love of Christ and that He used you, even tho the words may not have been exactly what He spoke to you!

  22. This is amazing. Thank you... Exactly the reminder I needed today when I am so wrapped in my own stresses that I am sure I have overlooked (or ignored) God's nudges to reach out to others. So thankful for you.

  23. When I read this, I immediately thought of Diana Biorkman. I don't know her personally, but I know the story of her son's battle with cancer, and his death shortly before Christmas. I seem to remember reading that you are in Michigan (as am I)...and this woman was from South Lyon. I doubt it is the same person you met at church, but something told me to post this...just in case. Take care,


  24. I continue to appreciate your honesty, Rebekah. I had emailed you once a while back and you had sent a very thoughtful response back as well as included me in your question segment once. I just wanted to let you know that you've inspired me and I've started my own blog about our infertility struggles. Thanks for your continued encouragement through your blog.

  25. you hugged her, and I really doubt that a hug from you could be considered a lofty glance from a lofty person. She knows you care.

  26. As always, you humble me. You didn't fail in anyway. You reached out to someone, maybe for you the outcome wasn't what you intended, but for her it could have meant everything. Most of us wouldn't have outwardly admitted that we thought we had failed, but you do and maybe that will make a difference in all of your readers lives.

  27. Rebekah i have emailed you before about this... I am lost and am so scared.

  28. I wanted you to know this... I told my daughter about your story and she had some interesting results:

  29. I’ve given you the Happy 101 Award.
    Check it out at:
    Hope you have a good day!
    Thanks for your encouragement!

  30. I wouldnt say you failed at all! You have no idea what impact you made on that woman...chances are you made her feel welcome. Sometimes that is all it takes. Its hard to approach someone you don't did what you felt was right...I don't think anyone would fault you for that. ;)

  31. I see this is an older post, but I agree with so many others' comments. I think that, sometimes, we are far more demanding on ourselves than God is. Ok: so maybe you didn't say the exact words that God put on your heart. But guess what? I think that encounter was much more Spirit-led than you believe it was. The fact is, you still did obey, and you listened to the voice of God, however imperfectly. He is easy to please, but hard to satisfy. Yes, maybe you could do better next time, but what you did was not worthless. The Lord God used you in that woman's life, I can promise you that. EVERY time you reach out to someone in need, you are doing something Spirit-led, even if imperfectly and with little faith. Why? Because you are ministering to Christ. (See Matt. 25:31-40)

    Further, his power is made perfect in weakness. It isn't perfect in spite of weakness -- it's in WEAKNESS that it is made perfect. How else do we learn of his great power than in encountering our weakness? We are lepers, and he loves us, tax collectors, and he forgives us. That's what our faith is about, the reason for the hope in us, and that is the pearl without price that you will be able to bring to your fellow beggars so that they, too, can partake in the wealth of God's mercy.

    I guess all I'm saying is this: strive to reflect the image of Christ in all that you do. You do not need to hear a direct word of God to be given tasks in his service. Those are not the only times, or even the main times, he calls on you to serve him (though I don't deny that he does use you for those special tasks). To look mainly to those times for his call is to narrow your view of what his call means. He doesn't just assign us tasks, however great. He calls our entire LIVES to be a single unbroken task of being "little Christs" to those around us, just as Christ's life was one task of obedience to the Father. Don't underestimate that! Never think that just because you don't have a special assignment he has withdrawn from you. May it never be! Christ LIVES in you, every moment, especially in the everyday, seemingly lack-luster things you do -- in the changing of a baby's diaper, or when you comfort a little one who is afraid, or when you take interest in their small joys, for "of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.". You are to be love incarnate to those you meet, just as Jesus became Love incarnate to us--supernatural message or none.

    So don't say you failed. You did not fail; it was never about YOU getting it right, was it? It's about God working in you, even you, a sinner. And, as long as you seek to follow him, not even your own failures stop that. Don't be surprised at failures: should you be? Even they remind us to stop relying on ourselves and to trust in the power of God to be made manifest in our weakness. And then, miraculously, even that shortcoming is transformed into an opportunity for His grace.

    Trust him, sister. He IS working in you, and maybe he is teaching you also that you shouldn't look exclusively to miraculous revelations for his guidance--though I don't doubt God uses those and that you may well have a gift. Yet still, He is with you ALWAYS, *especially* when you don't feel it. Sometimes those are the times he is using you the most. Don't let the devil dangle your failures in front of you -- somehow they are your glory, because of Jesus' redemption. Boast in your weakness, like Paul, because then is His power made known through even you.