The Message

This is a guest post by Nancy Jo Sullivan.

elderly handsIn last Sunday’s Gospel, we heard the admonitions of John the Baptist: “Prepare the way of the Lord.” John proclaimed God’s message. Through him, God’s voice was heard. Can you remember a time when you heard God’s voice?

I remember hearing it a few years ago. That evening, my friend invited me to a Pentecostal prayer service.

“But I’m Catholic,” I told her.

“God will be there,” she said.

When we arrived at the meeting, I sat in the back row as my friend helped with hospitality in a nearby lobby. Soon hundreds of worshippers began singing joyful hymns while waving their arms in praise.

I felt uncomfortable. The informal prayer service was so different than the traditional Mass I had grown up with.

But there was another reason for my discomfort. As a single mother, I was raising three children, one with special needs. I was tired and overwhelmed.

“You’ve given me more than I can handle,” I told the Lord.

Lost in my thoughts, I hung my head. Soon, I felt the presence of someone standing behind me. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a cane resting on the chair right next to mine. An aged hand, gnarled and wrinkled, reached out for mine.

As the singing grew quieter, I heard the hushed voice of an elderly woman: “Whatever it is honey, God’s gonna take care of it.”

I don’t know why I didn’t turn around to see her face. I think I was too embarrassed to let her see my misting eyes. But as she spoke, I felt the presence of Christ.

Her voice was God’s voice. The words she shared brought hope and healing to my life.

This Advent, listen closely to the voices you hear. God may have a message for you.

Nancy Jo Sullivan is the author of Small Mercies: Glimpses of God in Everyday Life. She is a frequent speaker at both the local and national levels. Sullivan lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and blogs at


  1. Tim says

    God doesn’t want an across the room shouting relationship; God wants a close, intimate one. If you want to whisper to someone who is across the room, you have to move closer to that person. Same with God. As Nancy so eloquently described above, we all can hear God’s whisper, all we have to do is be silent, and listen.

    Happy Tuesday….

  2. Lynda says

    Not only did Nancy listen to the voice of God encouraging her to hang on, the woman who took the time to whisper God’s message to her also listened to the voice of God and became the voice of God for Nancy who needed to hear that message. Let us not hesitate to be the instrument of God in communicating words of encouragement to others who desperately need to hear that God is journeying with them.

    Thank you Nancy.

  3. says

    This was posted on the RevGals prayer site by Revkjarla this morning – I think it fits. (I can’t even think about listening to yesterday’s music yet):

    So, today, God,
    I don’t think I have a prayer in me.
    Anything I pray
    feels trite in contrast to the heaviness
    we all feel in the face
    of the Newtown tragedy.
    There are no words.

    I know.
    I am thinking about other stuff too…like finishing up worship plans,
    getting some administrative work out of the way,
    wondering if I will ever have time to make some of the holiday foods my mom used to make
    every Christmas, like lefse, flatbread, krumkake…
    making a list of the books I want to read and things to make…
    but that is all monkey mind,
    or at the least, denial mind or procrastinator mind.

    But the truth is,
    I don’t have a prayer in me today.
    And so,
    I ask your Spirit
    to pray on my behalf…
    for those who need You and healing and balm and rest, and heart and compassion,
    and just simply holding.


    • Lynda says

      Robin, thank you for sharing this. It is so true that it is difficult to pray as there are no words for the sadness that we feel for those who are suffering so greatly at this moment. We can only hold them in our hearts and trust that our compassionate Lord is holding them in his heart as well. We have no words, only sighs and tears.

    • Jim says

      David Letterman had something to say last night about the Newton tragedy that was almost eloquent in its incoherence. We burn to know why someone would do something so horrible, though we know we probably wouldn’t know what to do with the answer if we heard it. What is there to think? What is there to feel? What is there to do? Words fall utterly short.

  4. says

    Yesterday, I was watching the coverage of the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As photos of the deceased children appeared on the television screen, my 20 year old daughter buried her head in her hands. “Mom,the world is becoming such a dark place.” she said.

    “All the more reason to shine our light” I told her.

    These are dark days, but the light of Christ’s presence can never be snuffed out.

    Today, I’m thinking about this passage from the Book of Romans:

    “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 38.

  5. says

    I thought I left a comment the other day, but I guess that I did not. Nancy Jo, I love this post. The idea of how tired and weary we can be, uncomfortable and wishing we were not where we were at any given moment – and then God comes to us in the words or presence of another. This is the light coming in, the Light of Christ. Very beautiful – and so very true.

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