by Cassi Franks
Ever hear from God through carrots? Yeah, me neither. Until last week.
Lately I’ve been frustrated. I’ve spent the majority of my Christian walk trying to engage with God and recognize his voice more confidently. I long for the ability to easily share what He is saying to me. I want to see Him working in whatever context I’m in. And I hope to tell stories about adventures and encounters that have no other explanation than following where the Spirit is leading.
I also am a recovering perfectionist with a very developed skill of comparison. I’ve spent the last several years pursuing help and coaching specifically in hearing God’s voice for myself and others. It’s been a blast getting to know the Holy Spirit, starting to recognize His voice and seeing ways that he has shown up by putting me in the midst of a few of the kind of stories that can only be explained by the Spirit’s leading. But, I can be extremely critical of myself when I see people around me seeming to sprint past without appearing out of breath.
I’ve got plenty of challenges and faults to prevent me from hearing God. I’m an expert at striving and planning ways to convince the Holy Spirit to show up on my terms. I’ve created calendars to practice listening for a word of encouragement for different people on different days of the week. I’ve gone shopping with the intent of hearing how He wants me to pray for passing strangers. While there is nothing wrong with those kinds of practices, so often, my attitude is about asking the Holy Spirit to enter my life, my workplace, my family, or my plans for how I want to grow in hearing Him.
But now I have this new tension. I’m a new mom. I LOVE being a mom. I have learned so much in such a short time. I also love reflection, contemplation, and quietly sitting with God. There hasn’t been much of that in this new season, so I’ve been frantically searching in the spare moments for new ways of hearing Him for myself and others.
Recently, I stumbled upon a facebook group that focuses on helping make the ordinary days something more important, something sacred. Since I seem to be looking forward to many years of ordinary days and fewer times of quiet reflection, I jumped in. Through this group and the resources many people have shared, I’ve been learning about the liturgical church year. Learning that there are seasons beyond Advent and Lent have been intriguing as it was not a part of my faith background.
As I’ve been learning about this new perspective my ordinary days have started to change because of this idea: the liturgical year is about Remembering you are stepping into God’s story.
Cue the carrots.
This idea of stepping into God’s story is coming to mind at various times throughout my week. This week, it happened to be while I was peeling carrots. Peeling a full 5lbs of carrots meant I had plenty of time to think about how much I wanted to be doing something (anything!) else. Since God’s story is happening all around us, I decided to ask the Spirit what he was up to here, in my house, with my son sitting a few feet away playing, and no other person in sight capable of intelligent conversation. I didn’t expect a response. However, the Spirit began comparing me to a carrot…
Some of the carrots I was peeling were long, narrow and flimsy. Some were short, fat and strong. Some were twisted, branched, swerving and unbalanced. In His grace, the Spirit spoke to me about the value of my gifts and my journey in terms of these carrots. In my striving, I had been trying to force my way into being the biggest and best, tallest and strongest, fastest growing and perfectly symmetrical carrot. But the Spirit brought my attention to a different kind of carrot.
In that moment, he was encouraging me in the value of a slow, strong, consistent faith. Like the shorter, wider, stronger carrots, it is not easily set off course; it is not moved by obstacles in the soil; it does not have flailing branches that lose time and energy by shooting off in the wrong direction. I may feel like I’m growing so slowly in hearing His voice, but really he is building and growing a strong foundation that cannot easily be redirected. As I realized what was happening, I had to laugh out loud. I thanked Him for using such a simple vegetable to get my attention and for teaching me about His story.
Because of this new encouragement from our Father out of such an ordinary, insignificant activity, I’m continuing to look at the world around me, asking Him “what is happening in your story right here, right now?” It’s changing my perspective and helping me to focus on what He’s doing instead of how I want to grow in my listening prayers. It’s helping me to actively show that I believe God is present and active in every moment whether it involves me or not. It is opening my eyes to his Lordship by helping me acknowledge he is in charge and it’s His story, not mine.
There’s one more thing about carrots. You never know what they look like until you pull them out of the ground. We don’t get to see them fight against hard soil or work their way between buried rocks. All the growth happens in the dark, under the ground, before we see the finished product. It is only after the growth has happened that we can see the results. By speaking to me through carrots and reminding me I have a chance to step into God’s Story, He’s showing me the importance of trusting His context instead of forcing my own. Just as the soil directs the growth of a carrot, growing in the context of God’s story gives direction to my growth, meaning to what I hear (even in ordinary things) and has the potential to make my sharing of those words more powerful than if I insist on growing on my own terms.
My growth in listening over the last several years hasn’t been on my own. The ministry of Accessible Prophecy has been invaluable. Its challenged me to confront my own obstacles in listening and its encouraged me to persevere with others in learning to recognize our Father’s voice.
I would recommend engaging with Accessible Prophecy through a workshop (there’s one in Ft. Wayne on April 21-22) or a prophetic huddle. You can learn more about getting involved at accessibleprophecy.com.