Inspiration. Prompting. Intuition. That niggley feeling. I have been thinking lately about the times in my life that I have felt moved upon by an outside source to do something I was not planning to do, and more specifically, the times I was actually clued-in enough to follow the feeling. I think from time to time I will write about them here, both to share and to remember. It is important that we recognize to ourselves and to others when we have followed divine council from beyond this sphere. It helps us to understand the limits of our humanity, the manner in which God persuades and intervenes, and how recognizing that connection creates a loving Father-child relationship between us and our Maker when promptings are followed.
One day I decided to scramble up one of my Mulberry trees and hack away at the milliondy-billiondy sucker branches that had sprouted there. Adam, who was almost four at the time, was watching a movie and so I said, “Hey Buddy, mama’s going out to do yard work. Do you want to come with me, or do you want to stay here and finish your movie?”
“Movie.” He smiled with his “I-don’t-love-the-movie-more-than-you, but-if-ya-don’t-mind…” look. Adam is always afraid to do what he wants to do if he thinks it will hurt someone’ feelings. “Ok, just come out when it’s done.” I said, confident in this, my most obedient child, doing exactly as he had been asked.
I headed out back with baby Ellie in a carrier and placed her in the shade, in eye and ear shot, but out of harm’s way. Back in those days the child was content for hours just looking at her toes. I grabbed a ladder and propped it against the tree and, tools in hand, began to make my assent.
As I got to the top rung and began to hoist myself into the tree, there came an intense thought, “Don’t get in the tree.”
Because I really wanted to get this job done, I immediately recognized the thought as one that came from outside myself. In my world, people of my faith call it “the prompting of the Spirit”.
I am stubborn. I don’t want to be told what to do. I shrugged it off, hoping I was just being silly.
“Don’t get in the tree.” It came again.
I argued in my head, I know, you think I am going to fall, but I promise, I will be really careful. I thought that might work. It didn’t. I lifted my foot up to the yolk of the tree.
“DON’T GET IN THE TREE.”
“Fine!” I said out loud. Recognizing that if I had to be told three times that I should probably listen, I was none the less miffed about not getting the tree pruned. I threw my long pruners to the ground in a bit of a huff and climbed down the ladder.
As soon as my feet touched the ground, a new thought came.
“Go find Adam.”
From where I stood I could see straight through the house into the living room and beyond the TV to the front door. There outside of the glass storm door I saw movement. It was Adam, reaching over and over again for the latch.
I grabbed Ellie, dashed into the house and opened the glass door. Little Adam was sobbing hysterically. He had stepped outside and off the doorstep, leaving him four inches lower than the door latch. He could have tried for days and not reached it.
“I thought you was in the front yard, and I wanted to be with you, but I got stuck outside.” He said between sobs as I held him to me. I thought about how I had planned to be in the tree for about a half an hour, and what might have occurred had I not gotten down out of that tree, but instead climbed up and started making noise. Would he have stayed there and cried till I found him? Would someone have come upon him and tried to help, or maybe taken him? Would he have decided to go find help and wandered off?
Thankfully I never had to find out. I have a thick head sometimes (OK, most times!) and when it is for my own wellbeing, I think the Spirit tries a few times and then says, “Suit yourself, if you’re not gonna’ listen, I ‘m not gonna’ keep nagging you. Happy consequences!” But when it comes to my kids, I have had the Spirit sometimes nearly holler at me. I don’t have the privilege of being spoken to in clear phrases in my mind every day. Most of the promptings I feel are so subtle I could miss them entirely, and often do.
Even more amazing, the prompting came in parts, because my Heavenly Father knows me well enough to know that I wouldn't have heard the second message until I was OUT of the tree. After all, I had only left Adam a few moments before. And then there is that whole stubborn thing. I would have argued that there was no possible trouble obedient little Addy-boy would get into.
I am grateful that when it comes to my kids, God uses a little more forceful encouragement on me. I am also grateful for Divine communication. My life does not feel hap-hazard. I know that God lives and knows about me. He cares about my family and loves us. He may not reach down from heaven to stop bad things from happening, but sometimes, maybe even often, he speaks to us through the Spirit to direct our paths.