In the rustling grass, I hear Him pass

Published 5:43 pm Sunday, June 18, 2023

By R. A. Tea Mathews

He scoffed at me. “You believe in God,” he said, “because the idea brings you comfort.”

“Is that so?” I said and laughed. “God can be very discomforting.” 

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For years, He guided me to sing and I started at a nursing home. A friend said, “They’re very forgiving and they can’t hear very well.” 

It sounded perfect. 

As it turned out, they weren’t all that deaf.  My audience peeled away, week after week. In the end, the residents who stayed wanted to sing the solos. Then COVID-19 came along and my nursing home gig ended. 

But the Lord wasn’t done with me. Not at all. 

He kept pushing me, this time toward my church. That was a paralyzing idea. “Maybe a small Sunday school class,” I said, bargaining. No.

One day, I took a deep breath and approached the church pianist. “Maybe she’ll discourage me,” I thought. Instead, she said, “We would LOVE to have you sing!” 

And, so, the journey began. 

On day one, I warned them: “I’m an incredibly shy singer.” Good thing, because I started and quickly had to stop, tears in my eyes as I spotted a sweet soul in my church, beaming up at me. “Please don’t look at me, Shirley, I’m going to cry,” I said from the mic. 

I’m not kidding; that actually happened! 

I braved my way through the song and left church early. I was never doing that again.

But I did.

Solo two came the following week. It was worse. My throat closed up, and I struggled so hard that I lost my place. But I finished and sat down. I was never, ever doing that again.

Week three, I sang “In the Garden,” and the congregation clapped. Not because it was good; they were determined to encourage me.  

About a week later, I realized my foolishness. I said, “Jesus died a humiliating death for me. I’m going to welcome being ashamed. I’m going to do this no matter what.”

I sang two solos acapella the next week and I wish I had a recording of them. In my lifetime, I will never sing like that again. 

God provided for me—I have an incredibly loving church. But the Lord also gave me a patient, gifted voice teacher. I didn’t know Kaelan Smith, but when I asked for help, he said, “Sure!”

The Lord had His reasons. I sing every week and it is my greatest joy!

Last night, my dear friend, Karin Patton, called me. She said, “What about ‘This Is My Father’s World’ for your column and your solo on Sunday?”

Immediately, we began trying to remember the words. I sang “…hmmm, hmmm, hmmm  of rocks and trees, of skies and seas, His hand the wonders wrought.” 

“Karin, it brings to mind where God said, ‘Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, stretching his wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle flies high, and makes his nest on high?’”

Do you remember the man God was speaking to?

  1. Job
  2. Peter
  3. Moses
  4. Abraham

Make your selection and I’ll show you what happened. 

God continued: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?… When the morning stars sang together … who enclosed the sea …  (saying), ‘As far as this point you shall come, but no farther; and here your proud waves shall stop’? … Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and made the dawn know its place … can you bring out a constellation in its season…” (Job 38:4-33)

The correct answer is No. 1, “Job,” a man who had protested to God after losing his wealth and being humiliated. God scolded him.

Job quickly realized that he had no right to question the Almighty. Job said, “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I say in response to You? I put my hand on my mouth.” (Job 40:4) 

“This Is My Father’s World” speaks of how “all nature sings” and how “the morning light … declares the Maker’s praise.” But it ends with more: “… the battle is not done; Jesus who died shall be satisfied and earth and heav’n be one.”

God is your comfort. He is also your discomfort. Your Father will lead you, and sometimes it will be down a path of shame. He has a reason.

In the rustling grass, you may hear Him pass. This Sunday, be reminded to listen closely. To surrender to your Father. 

Remember what Christ has done for you. Be willing to suffer humiliation, to fail, to be shamed.

The Rev. Mathews, BA, MDiv, JD, is a newspaper faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at Hello@RAMathews.com to join her 1-Minute Bible Study.

Copyright © 2023 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.