I asked to borrow his car, he didn’t have to let me use it, after all we had just broken up. I pulled his little red car off campus and headed south out of town. I had to wait for the train to clear the crossing, once over the tracks I went straight down hill to the stop sign. My mind was cataloguing the events that brought me here today.
Slowly I wound my way up the mountain to the dam not more than 20 minutes from campus. I must have been the only one who ditched classes today; the parking lot was empty. Grabbing my backpack I walked toward the stream and spread out a blanket, pulled out my Bible and journal.
Doing what I often did, I poured out my heart to the Lord through my pen and then poured the Psalms back in, a soothing balm that felt like cool water running over my scraped and scorched soul. The same psalms David had played to calm Saul’s anguished soul.
His vehicle was not the only one that brought me here today. Sure, I was upset about the breakup but to be honest there were other things, the fear that if I didn’t succeed here I would end up back home where there was nothing for me. My life was a mess, my grades were in trouble and I didn’t want to go home. That sounds terrible, but I could feel the pressure…and guilt. I had made a break and I was afraid I wouldn’t get back.
A few hours and tears later I became sleepy and lay back on my blanket; I looked up through the trees at the warm afternoon sun. I could hear the wind rustling through leaves, water trickling over the rocks of the nearby stream. I could hear the laughter of children playing in the distance reminiscent tinkling of wind chimes.
It was a warm day and lying in the shade with a cool breeze interrupting the sun’s rays while the birds sang and chirped overhead, the day was almost perfect, except the squall on the inside of me. Suddenly I heard my name, “Theresa”.
It was a firm, clear voice, kind of husky but not a whisper. Sitting up and looking around there was no one there. I stood up and walked to the stream bank to make sure one of my fellow students wasn’t pulling a prank on me. No one was there, maybe I was dreaming.
I decided to return to my blanket and finish my nap, I laid my head back on my pack and closed my eyes, and I was drifting again. Birds singing, stream gurgling, and I was lulled back into a peaceful nap.
“T h e r e s a”, this time my name was pronounced in the deliberate voice of someone trying to get my attention.
Sitting up again, I looked around still no one was there, everything was just as it was fifteen minutes before. Taking a lesson from the story of Samuel, I whispered a little self consciously, “Is that you Lord”? I was sitting cross legged on the blanket, my heart was pounding. This was all very new to me. I didn’t hear another voice but instead I felt like someone took a sheet and lifted it up over me letting it fall gently over my head until it draped all around me. I wouldn’t move, I didn’t understand what was going on but I didn’t want to disturb the moment.
Tears ran freely down my face, not like before, these were tears of joy. A peace settled over me that day, a peace that said “I am not alone”. I lingered wanting to be sure that I didn’t miss anything.
When I arrived to dinner that evening I wondered if anyone would notice. Did I seem different? The Lord knew my name, how could I not be different? It was hard to believe that just a few hours ago my car trip had led me to a rendezvous with a Living God.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you I have called you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers they shall not overthrow you. When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God… Isaiah 43:1
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