There is a LOT going on around here, and it's pretty stressful stuff. The current state of circumstances can at times be overwhelming, and they lead me on a rather unhealthy trail down the road of "if only" and "what if." When I go there I find myself stuck at the "mountain of regret."
If only I had stayed in school, furthered my education, taken life more seriously-- then now perhaps we wouldn't be in the precarious position we're in now. I've thought several times over about how much I'd like to travel back in time and slap around 19-year-old me. I'd give her speeches similar to the ones I have given to many young people in my own life, including my own kids. They are speeches I am pretty sure I heard back in the day and completely disregarded.
The other night I was wallowing in these kinds of thoughts, not only full of regret about the past, but running into doubt and hopelessness about the future. I don't feel optimistic very much lately about big chunks of life like jobs and provision. As I sat on my couch, my husband beside me oblivious to and watching a ball game, I got more and more anxious until I felt like I just couldn't even breathe anymore. So I decided to go for a walk and talk to the Lord.
As I began to walk down the street of my neighborhood, two little crickets jumped before my feet. Roaches and spiders don't miff me, but I can't stand a cricket, and out neighborhood is FULL of them. I don't think it's a coincidence that they fall in the same order of insects as the locusts God sent on Egypt as a plague. Jiminy or not, I am just not a fan of any cricket not drawn in a cartoon. (I don't want to find roaches in my house, but on the block, I'd smash it without thinking, and spiders don't bother me at all, but I digress...)
You can't step on a cricket with the ease you can smoosh a spider or a roach, they're quick and in constant motion, one might look like a dancing fool trying to step on one. As I continued down the street, I realized how many of them I could hear. There is no silence in my neighborhood, there is a huge chorus of these critters calling out to one another from all over everywhere, even when you can't put your finger on a single one. And nothing is worse than one has your attention, and you can't track him down to save your life.
I've had that happen before, laying in bed at night trying to go to sleep, and a cricket has made his way into the house, and there is nothing muffled about his sound. I remember one night in particular when there was a loud cricket in our master bathroom and it kept Neal and I both lying awake in our bed. It was somewhere in the bathroom and frustration and sleeplessness kept us both up and down most of the night trying to track the little booger down. We could hear him, but we could not see him, and whenever we went into the bathroom and turned on the light he would silence his cries.
As I was walking down the street Friday night, it occurred to me that the thoughts and worries I'd been nursing in the house were a lot like crickets. As I gave them my attention, there was nothing else I could hear. They overwhelmed me to the point of distraction, just like the crickets did. They robbed me of peace and rest just like the little villain in the bathroom that night.
As I walked I put my focus on the Lord and I began to pray. I talked to Him about my worries and concerns, and as I prayed, different scriptures and verses were coming to mind-- promises from God about the care of His people. Suddenly I realized that the sound of the actual crickets had lost my attention, to the point they seemed to not be there anymore, but as soon as I let my focus drift their way again, they were all I could here. I felt the Lord speak to my heart, "just like your worries." When I focus on them, they too are all I can hear. When I focus on Him, however, the disruptive cries they make drift into the background. It was a powerful revelation.
The Holy Spirit brought to my memory many of the promises of God, about His care and kindness for those who love Him. I was grateful for the wealth of scripture hidden in my heart that He was able to draw to the surface to reassure me that God is greater than my circumstance. It makes it easier to know I've heard Him when God is speaking His own words to my heart.
As I continued walking through the dark street I thought of a song that I used to hold to a lot when we went through the most dificult days of Ethan's adoption and thought we might actually lose him. It was like an anthem during that scary season of my life. And I felt compelled to focus on it again. "I will bless the Lord forever," it begins, "I will trust Him at all times. I will not be moved, I'll say of the Lord, You are my shield, my strength, my portion, delivered, my shelter, strong tower, my very present help in time of need." They are not just lyrics to a song, but they are words of Truth from the Bible, and I began to play it on my phone as I walked on. I noticed something as I turned it up. As I put my focus on it, it was as though all the crickets in the street were completely silent, I could hear nothing but the song.
Now the crickets were NOT silent mind you. If I put my focus on them, I could hear them at any moment. That's the way it is walking in dark times. But when I fixed my eyes, or rather my ears on the "voice of truth" from the song, it drowned them out. Like the little villian in the shower, flipping on the light silenced him. Turning on the Light against the fears, anxieties and lies chirping at us will silence them as well, and if they cannot be silenced completely, I know if I right my focus, I can at least drown out their sounds.
What's chirping at you? Where do you need to right your focus? Here's the song of Truth that helped me right my focus, I hope it encourages you as well.