by Dezra Lawson
It was one of those warm Ohio days that followed a 45-degree day. I was outside on a walk with our dogs, my two youngest boys, Zayn and Braylen, and my neighbor and her son. We chatted as we walked and the boys ran ahead, two on bikes, and my youngest, Braylen, running sonic speed behind them to keep up. Braylen did catch up to Zayn, who was slowing down to allow him to catch him. Suddenly, it was as if someone grabbed life’s remote and pushed the “slo-mo” button as I saw Braylen cut in front of Zayn and get tangled in the bike tires. Braylen instantly fell flat, not allowing for time or room to catch himself, his temple hitting the pavement, followed by two or three lifeless rolls. My immediate panic and fear of needing to console my injured baby turned more severe as I heard no crying and saw no movement. I ran as fast as I could as I yelled aloud, “Why is he not moving?” over and over until I scooped him up in my arms.
I was struck with anxiety, fear, and confusion as my mom mode switched to doctor mode while trying to analyze the severity of what was taking place. Holding an unconscious child in my arms was something I had no experience with as my fifteen years of mothering four active boys seemed to have all left me at that moment in time. In the midst of everything happening, my neighbor called 911 as I continued to hold Braylen, begging and pleading for him to wake up.
“Can you hear me? . . . Please wake up, Bray-Bray. . . . Mommy’s here, it’s going to be OK.”
Nothing was working and in tears in the midst of chaos I loudly and distinctly heard these words:
“Just pray, just pray, just pray.”
I tried to form a prayer or thought, as I began with “Dear G . . .” and that was it. In the moment I knew I needed God for strength, guidance, and comfort—but couldn’t even pray. In the days after the event, Braylen was following concussion protocol, and I found myself reflecting on how I had handled the situation. I felt defeated and upset that I wasn’t able to pray, even when it came to my mind very clearly.
Practicing the Habit of Listening
I know the prompting to pray would have helped me to worry less and give it all to God in that moment. But it got me thinking about how many times I ignore those promptings to do something. Was I disobeying God and not doing things that I most likely knew I should and just ignoring his voice? I’m talking about those little, tiny callings—the whispers that we hear every day. It might be to speak up and say something, smile or greet a stranger, or stop in the midst of a busy day and help someone out. I believe those nudges come from God for us to fulfill his purpose for the greater good. It’s so easy for us to blow them off but when we do so, are we preventing God’s work from being done?
Growing up, I remember having a conversation with my mom about being frustrated because people talked about hearing from God, but I didn’t have that experience or didn’t hear him like I wanted to. I was expecting to hear this almighty voice, but often when he speaks, it’s through small whispers which I most likely heard even as a young child. The more I ignored them, the softer they became, and the further my heart would drift from my Creator. But when I practice the habit of purposefully listening to and acting on these urges, I feel more connected to my Creator and in sync with my true life’s purpose.
Following our heart’s intuition not only allows us to live the life we are created for, it also allows others a glimpse of theirs as well. Love spreads like wildfire, it’s hard to extinguish once it gets going, and touches everything in its path. That’s what we should be doing as Christians, spreading love and kindness, and infecting people with it. After all, it is contagious.
My Spiritual Awakening
Have you ever known something you needed to change, and you knew it was God working in you at that time? In those moments, it seems like everything you heard or saw somehow applied to your exact situation. While reflecting on Braylen’s accident and my disappointment that I couldn’t pray in that moment, here are a few things that seemed to be thrown in my face . . .
I received numerous YouVersion Bible verse push notifications like these:
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV).
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10, NIV).
My weakness for lack of prayer in that moment of chaos allowed me a vision to see my potential in the weeks that followed.
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Psalm 143:10, NIV).
And this one’s my favorite: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” Ephesians 1:17, NIV).
Then these words from our senior minister Brad Wilson jumped out to me from his message on complaining: “I’m not saying that God causes the circumstances we find ourselves in, but he uses them to make an impact, to make a difference in a person’s life. Sometimes, for God to get the most out of you, you have to humbly say, ‘I can’t do this.’ And God says, ‘OK, let’s go!’”
The timing was perfect when a book on my wait list from the library reading app, Libby, became available. The Path Made Clear, Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose, by Oprah Winfrey, became available during a time when this book would be most impactful in the lesson God was showing me.
In the weeks following Braylen’s accident, I realized I had a lot of changes to make, and I was going to actively practice listening to God more. I decided to stop ignoring the whispers. I quit 2 PTO’s or boosters I was involved in. I stopped my weekly volunteer work at Petco (petting and cleaning the cat enclosures for an animal rescue that uses the space). I also joined the CC Encouragers group which I felt led to be in when I first heard about it, but had previously ignored that calling. I felt depleted, exhausted, and unfulfilled, but I just kept going through the motions. I was filling my everyday life with so many tasks that I didn’t have time to truly listen anymore. I became numb to the joys of life because I felt I was doing “good things,” but was ignoring everything I am truly destined for. I needed to clear out the old to make room for the new.
I hadn’t realized how desperate I was for a spiritual awakening. I had allowed myself to be pulled in so many directions doing “things” and pleasing others—but it wasn’t for God. I had definitely heard the whispers of action I needed to take in my life, but I had been straight-up ignoring God nearly every day. Maybe I thought it wasn’t from him, maybe I was overwhelmed, maybe it was anxiety. I thank God that I was able to see he had been trying to get my attention the whole time.
If we will open our hearts and realize where we’ve been resisting his voice, we have the opportunity to change, and to step into who we’ve always wanted to be. We just need to listen, then obey. In Matthew 8:27 we read, “Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (NIV). Well, shouldn’t we too?!
If you need help getting started, “Just pray, just pray, just pray.”
Dezra Lawson works part-time as the Communications Project Coordinator at Christ’s Church. She and her husband, Mike, have four active boys ages 5-15, and two female dogs, a lab and lab mix. She enjoys finding new hiking trails to walk on her AllTrails app, photo taking, and sneaking bites of creamy chocolate.