I was thirteen when I decided I really truly wanted to follow God with everything. I wasn’t sure what all that meant, but I was going for it. Looking back, the only thing that actually changed at that point was my conversation.
Since God and I were friends, this meant I should talk to Him, right?
If there is one thing a teenage girl can handle, it’s talking.
When I was fifteen, I realized that I had been talking a lot. While I felt better in many ways, my life hadn’t changed much and I still wasn’t sure what God wanted from me. The reason seemed simple: I hadn’t taken time to listen.
So I started my prayer walks.
We lived in a little neighborhood in Florida with winding roads and cul-de-sacs. It was a new development with miles and miles of paved roads and empty lots. I walked and prayed and then listened.
For some time, all I heard were the sounds of nature. Bugs buzzing, armadillos crashing through the undergrowth, Florida pines dropping needles. There are a lot of sounds that are heard in the thin silence of waiting.
A quarter mile from our house was a small canal that I would often wander down, keeping an eye out for alligators, but enjoying the sound of the water moving. One day I was walking the edge and started in surprise. While I was ready for gators, or snakes, or armadillos… this was one thing I had never expected to see in my wanderings.
A pink chair.
You know, one of those before-the-recliner stuffed rocking chairs?
There it was, in the middle of the woods, without a house in sight. It felt a bit surreal. Definitely out of place.
“Lord,” I prayed into the silence, “I feel a bit like a pink chair in the middle of the woods. What is my purpose? What am I suppose to be doing? Where are you?”
There were days and days of stillness that followed. I found myself wandering back to the pink chair in the woods, time after time. I wondered where God was. I wasn’t sure how this conversation with Him was suppose to look. Was I doing it right? Did He ever say more than just the sounds of nature?
One day I felt the distinct impression to sit. Or wait, maybe I was just tired and felt like sitting? I thought about that possibility for a moment, but knew my body itself had no desire to sit down. The chair had been outside for weeks. What type of creatures might live in it? But the impression didn’t leave.
I did a lot of looking and pulling apart cushions before I sat down. Strangely enough, there wasn’t even a spider in it.
It was a comfortable chair. It fit me just right, so my feet could push against the ground. It rocked smoothly. I waited, but heard only the sound of insects buzzing and the soft movement of the water in the canal.
The next day I brought my Bible along. I did the bug-snake-strange-creature-hunt in the chair, then sat and opened the Scriptures. Day after day after day.
Eventually the rainy season came and I stopped visiting the pink chair in the woods. I grew and left home and forgot about it.
Yesterday, I was looking for some paperwork and found a file of short stories I had written when I was a teen. One of them was about the pink chair in the woods. Interestingly enough, my ending statement was:
“It seemed to have no purpose, that pink chair. It was just someone else’s trash, not even worth the cost of disposing of it properly. Yet, for me, it became a place of comfort.”
God met me there, in the thin silence of waiting. It was a picture of all my questions of worth and value and purpose– and of my growing understanding of a God who cares about a simple teenage girl in North Port, Florida, and willingly meets her in the middle of those questions.
I didn’t hear a great answer, but in being with God I found the answers I was looking for. My life changed. My thought patterns changed. My heart changed.
There’s a lesson here. One I need today. Because it’s easy for me to go back to talking, a lot. And that’s okay. But I don’t want to forget to just be with God– for those are the true moments of transformation.
Do you have a “pink chair” in your life? A place where you show up and learn to be with God? I think I need one again.