Pushed, Kicking and Screaming

I often say God pushed me kicking and screaming into writing this blog. But it was actually a lot gentler than that.

On the most physically painful day of my life, God gave me a vision. At first, I didn’t feel comfortable calling it that, but my sister and others later helped me to recognize it as such. After a several-hour surgery, I had been crying out to God in pain for hours, because the medication did not seem to be helping. My husband later confirmed that the look on my face showed pain worse than during childbirth.

After a couple hours of futilely crying out for relief, I began to wonder what God was trying to teach me.

I had been learning the importance of being thankful to God in all things and discovering that thankfulness can even open the floodgates of blessing from God. At this moment, I assumed God was calling me to thankfulness, rather than the self-focused petitions I had been lobbing at him.

I began thanking him for the wonderful opportunity to have this specialized neuro-spinal surgery with a world-renowned doctor. Then I thanked him that the prognosis was that I would someday being able to walk again. I thanked him for loved ones. And on and on.

After about an hour I ran out of things to thank him for and just started praising him. First, I praised him for all his attributes that matter most to me. Then I went through the alphabet, praising him in some way with each letter.

After about an hour, an amazing thing happened. I felt as though I was lifted to a completely different place.

The first scene looked like a gorgeous three-story stone house we had seen in Montenegro on a recent vacation. While I was staring at this beautiful building, I felt the need to respond to the meaning of the scene—as though I were a student in one of my literature classes, being asked the meaning of a story.

I said, “Yes, Lord, I see that each stone of my life is placed there by you for a reason. I see that what you are building would not be the same without each stone, painful or not.”

After the “Yes” came a new scene and another after that. I WISH I could remember those other scenes. I would so love to have the ability to rewind and experience all of those glorious scenes and meanings again in my mind. But I don’t.

What I do know is that after about an hour of scene after scene, the first one reappeared.

I said again, “Yes, Lord, I see. I see that you lay one stone at a time in this life you are building.”

Then, to my great shock, an audible voice answered: “Yes, and I want you to write your story so that others may see what I have done in your life and how I have built it one stone at a time.”

I was a bit freaked out.

I’ve always enjoyed talking to people but saw no way writing my story would be useful to anyone. It didn’t make sense. It overwhelmed me. I didn’t want to be a Jonah, but I knew no one needed to read my memoir.

Then the vision ended. I, like a foolish child, tried to make it start up again by praising God again. No such luck. God’s message to me for the moment was complete.

During my months of recovery, I thought about my experience a lot. Then, two months later, I told my pastor sister about it.

She said, “I know it’s a vision from God. I have no idea what it means either. But I do know enough about our God to know that he will make it clear to you. Just wait until he lets you know. Don’t worry about it until then.”

Whew!! What a huge burden fell off my shoulders. I had no idea how she felt so sure, but her words were a relief to me. I was then able to live without wondering about it all the time.

A month later, my provost gave me permission to do my upcoming sabbatical research on spiritual formation in children, rather than on one of the literary topics I had originally chosen.

I had begun to feel great concern that parents were not receiving the encouragement they needed to talk confidently to their children about who Jesus is, and I wanted to see what was out there for them. My research revealed that lots has been written for church leaders and for teachers—but not much for parents. What I found exposed a gap in the area of parents talking to children about their relationship with Jesus Christ, rather than simply teaching them the Bible or teaching them how to live moral lives.

As I presented my sabbatical report, I stated that I would not publish my findings, but instead planned to present them in an adult-education format for parents, since I knew that publishing today would require an online platform–totally not my thing.

At this, our distance-education professor spoke up: “Lisa, you need to do this as a blog.”

I answered, “No way, Darwin. You know how non-techie I am. I’m always coming to you with dumb questions. Besides, blogs are about day-to-day happenings in people’s lives—not a subject like this.”

“You need to learn to do it. You can get help. And the best blogs are topical. This needs to be a blog. Who is your potential audience? They read blogs.”

As the rest of the faculty voiced their agreement, I felt scared and overwhelmed.

Leaving the meeting that day, I said to God, “Well, if this is something you actually want me to do, you’re going to have to make me a lot less scared about it and a lot more excited.”

And he did.

During the summer, as I was doing my regular projects and praying about the blog possibility, I noticed something funny. Every time I laughed to people about my strange sabbatical-report story, they didn’t laugh. They said, “You should do it. You totally should. I want to read it!”

As I was starting to seriously consider this blog, I knew I would need a name. I realized “Spiritual Formation in Children” was way too academic. When I thought about “One Stone at a Time,” I got chills. I knew it was God’s way of having me answer his call to write my story about his work in my life.

And God provided support for me.

Former students volunteered to help in amazing ways. A few pre-read early blogs and helped me with my voice, when I was clueless about non-academic writing and not sure I had anything worth saying. Another one took my head shot. A different student suggested my alliterative subtitle. Another helped me with the initial set up of the site. And yet another helped me with fine tuning to ensure the website actually worked.

God never sent me a banner down from heaven—always the directive I envisioned as the simplest and coolest.

But he did something better. He affirmed his will for my direction through many supportive fellow believers who continue to participate in my life in loving ways.