Don’t worry, I’m not the type to go around asking strangers for a light, or encourage them to tell me their astrological signs. And while I’d like to tell you that God goes before me with a pillar of clouds by day, and a pillar of fire by night, God’s leading in my life is usually a little harder to discern. Which makes those rare occasions when He knocks me over with an almost miraculous clarity all the more, well, divine.
God is not shy when answering my legit prayers of distress. Many times when I’ve fallen bare-souled and broken hearted before Him, He has made Himself real to me with a comfort deep in my spirit that warms me even now. And He ‘gets’ me, He really does. He knows me well enough to know when to honor me with intimacy in His divinity. He knows I don’t need signs to strengthen my faith in Him, but He also knows I really like a little drama every now and then. At the end of 2015, He gave me two exciting signs I’ll carry with me forever.
Late last November, at the end of one of my solitary Night Walks, on an uncommonly warm evening, I was stunned to find an owl sitting atop the highest corner of my house. Easily the largest owl I’d ever seen, he peered down at me authoritatively, as if he owned the joint, and I was merely passing through. His head swirled around at my approach. He stared at me for long moments as I stood, transfixed, before him. The majesty of the moment caused me to bow my head, and offer prayers of thanksgiving for the wonder of this glorious creature, standing out in bas relief against the inky, starless sky.
Later I was reminded that the owl symbolizes change, transition, and even death in some cultures. My owl offered me peace as I contemplated necessary endings in my professional and personal life. A blanket of peace enabling me to face the knowledge that some things in my life needed to be allowed to die in order to make room for new life.
My owl served as a rich reminder to accept the beauty and the inevitability of change, transition, and even death as the miracle of life thrums on around us.
My second great sign came immediately after a prayer offered up from a hot tub in December. I know, I know, not the most elegant of prayer sites, but bear with me. I was praying about my leadership book, in a hot tub, after rising up to pray at 4:00 a.m., for seemingly no good reason. It’s happened to you, right? You wake up, hearing that still, small voice, in the early hours, calling you to pray. Sometimes you answer, sometimes you go back to sleep. This time, I listened to that voice. And I followed it to a hot tub, and found myself in the middle of a miracle.
Now to pray in a hot tub, is to cut to the chase. I surprised myself by asking for forgiveness for not having finished the draft of a leadership manuscript by the year’s end as I’d hoped. I humbly asked God to forgive me. I reminded Him that this book is His, and that I need His help to finish it, and to honor Him in so doing. I asked Him to give me His power, His wisdom, and His ability to write the best possible leadership book in His perfect timing. At that very moment, a shooting star flew across the sky. I sat, spellbound in my swimsuit, measuring its glorious ascent from one palm tree to another. It shot across the length of the pool, and then rocketed through the black expanse of sky stretching over the ocean. I stared after it, until a flash caught my eye, and another shooting star scampered after the first! I screamed in delight, and then I laughed out loud, offering a water bottle toast to the King of Kings.
My shooting stars—time-honored symbols of assurance of a dream about to come true—felt like a promise I’d already heard. “That I will publish with a voice of thanksgiving and tell of all Thy wondrous works.” (Psalms 26:7)
My shooting stars felt like a reaffirmation of what I’ve already been called to pursue. “Behold, I am making all things new….Write, for these words are faithful and true.” (Revelations 21:5)
My shooting star felt like a call to get back to work, joyfully.
An owl and a shooting star—now that’s a wondrous story I can tell, and publish with a voice of thanksgiving.