When God Meets Us In a Way We Didn't Know We Needed
By Sue Fulmore
Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Sue's Story
It may seem weird to say so, but I heard God most clearly amongst the trees of the forest during that season.
All the props I relied on were yanked out from under me, and the ground shifted beneath my feet. The world as we knew it had shut down. Time stood still.
The coffee we had scheduled for after Easter was never going to happen. My dear friend had just passed away. She was someone who had walked with me through all the stages of our lives up until this point. She was a few steps ahead of me and was a generous and encouraging guide. She held my babies when I was exhausted. She colored my hair. Over many hundreds of cups of coffee, we had discussed all the things we faced as moms, wives, and friends.
Life felt very fragile now that this friend was no longer here. It was like the rope that had held me fast, let loose.
Just after this, because I was struck with the brevity of life and wanted to invest my time in the best things, I quit my job. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time. It was a good decision but it, too, left me untethered. And then, as I watched the infighting that erupted in our world and in our church communities, even my faith seemed fragile. I sensed a burning inside that would not ease, my mind in a state of unsettledness.
With some of the usual ways I met Him no longer available, where could I hear God?
How could I hear him over the anxiety and obsessive thoughts that buzzed in my brain?
When I could no longer sit with my spiraling thoughts, I laced up my running shoes and set off down the path into the woods. It was here that I was surprised and delighted to find God. The forested path became my sanctuary and the place where I could hear him louder.
As I observed the rhythms of nature, they showed me all that had not changed – that the cycles of life and death and new life are dependable and unchanging. I was reminded of the words in Ecclesiastes that affirm there is a time for everything, that there is predictability in a world that feels anything but. There is comfort in knowing that,
“The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south and turns to the north;
round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.” (Ecclesiates 1:5,6 NIV)
In my untethered state, I needed that reminder. I needed to know God was still present, still holding all of Creation within his care – including me.
As I moved my body, I felt anxiety’s grip slip away. Each step I took broke into the spiral of negative thinking. Walking amongst the trees I heard God’s reminder to me of a larger story. As I paid attention to the changes as each new season came, He reassured me that order remains, that I was still safe in the care of God. Just as the trees in the forest were held and sustained by the Creator, I knew this to be true for me also. It was like God was speaking through the pines and poplars I passed, saying, “You are held.”
From the beginning of Genesis all the way through to Revelation, trees have been featured prominently in God’s narrative, so I am not surprised that God would speak through their leaves and branches. The Psalmist implores, “Let all the trees of the forest sing for joy,” (Psalm 96:12). Perhaps that is what I heard as I walked beneath their branches – their songs of joy to the Creator, their praises for his provision and care.
My feet pounding the path eased my worries and ushered me into the company of a kind and present God who will use any means to communicate with his children.
He is not silent. He still speaks, and it might look different for each one of us. I wonder, where might God be inviting you to hear his voice more clearly?
Photo credit: Wix Media
The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest essay series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. When we read each other’s stories of how He meets us, it reminds and reassures us that He is near. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.
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Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens twice a year. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.
Sue Fulmore is a freelance writer and speaker seeking to live an examined life. She pursues beauty on the regular, believing it soothes and sustains us and points us toward the Creator of all. She seeks to point others to beauty and a deeper connection to God through her writing.
Sue currently shares an empty nest with her retired husband of 37 years in a small town in Alberta, Canada. Sue is the proud long-distance mom of two adult daughters, and is still learning to navigate this stage.
She tends her garden in the summer and indoor plant babies year-round. Sue prefers tea over coffee, baking to cooking, and will always find new ways to express her creativity. You can find her on Instagram and at her website.