Riding with Brown Sugar is a singular experience. Talk about quiet. And it’s not because she’s tap-tap-tapping on a device, reading a book, or playing with a toy. She’s not even singing along to the radio. Every now and then she’ll pipe up with, “Could you turn it up?” or “Will you play that song again?” or “Can we stop at McDonald’s?” Even then, I have to strain to hear her soft voice. But other than a request or two, she’s just…quiet.
As one introvert riding with another, it’s a beautiful thing. Our drives serve as a retreat of sorts for us both. I emerge from the car refreshed; I don’t feel like my ears have had a workout. I get time to ponder the mysteries of the universe, mentally compose my next blog post, focus on the directions, consider the next day’s activities, fret over yesterday’s, or just enjoy the music. And of course, I get to wonder what’s on Brown Sugar’s mind.
Yes, sometimes, my mommy curiosity leads me to break our fast of silence. I don’t pepper her with questions; I simply sprinkle an inquiry every few miles: “Are you okay? What are you thinking about? Did you enjoy practice?” To which she replies: “Yes. Nothing. Yes.” There’s certainly more substance in the stillness.
It’s surely hard to hear Brown Sugar in our family’s day-to-day—during the jockeying for position at the dinner table, the scramble for the truck’s middle seat, the complaints over schoolwork, the requests for Friday movie choices, the cheers during the games, in the schmear of attention we spread over each little person. We have many talkers, thinkers, listeners, directors, movers, shakers, watchers, doers, and whiners in a life chock-full of earthquakes, winds, and fires.
And with all that shaking, blowing, and heat going on, it’s hard to hear something, some One even more precious: that still small voice of God (1 King 19:12). It’s a wonder of Red Sea proportions that He gets a Word in during those five-minute shower devotionals. Yet, how I need to hear it in these tumultuous times rife with earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, wars, flag-saluting, protests, and catastrophic loss of life. I know my Savior has something to tell me, words of comfort, wisdom, love, and grace. I just need to shut my mouth and open my heart, something I struggle to do because I’m usually fussing about, at, or over something and someone else.
When I seek Him, listen carefully, and wait, I find Him. I hear Him. God’s message is usually simple and gentle: I might not get a wet fleece like Gideon, see a fire or cloud guiding me night and day like Moses, or hear a voice calling to me in the cool of the evening like Adam. But I have the cross. It is the clearest sign of His greatest gift, and its message is loud and clear: “…choose…,” “Come…rest…learn…,” “…love…,” “Go…,” “Believe…” (Joshua 24:15; Matthew 11:28-30, 28:19; Mark 12: 30-31; John 3:16).
Yes, I enjoy the silence of my ride with Brown Sugar and the sound of her soft voice in the stillness of the car. But I need to bask in the quiet with Jesus and crane to hear His voice, knowing my life hangs on His every Word.
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19: 11-13)