God, goodness & garbage: Melissa’s Midwest move

Tonight, I present a guest blog from Melissa Steffan, journalist extraordinaire from the Pacific Northwest. Fresh out of an undergraduate education at Seattle Pacific University where she served as Editor-in-Chief of The Falcon and completed an internship at the Washington Post, she recently arrived in Chi-town for a year of Editorial Residency with Christianity Today Magazine based in Carol Stream. She’s already written several news features for CT Online, and has some amazing things to say about God speaking in tangible and “myriad” ways – even through trash on the street.

According to Steffan, there are no such thing as coincidences – only divine revelations. I agree. Read on to see if you feel the same!

“All things for my good”

One particular morning last fall, I decided to go on a prayer walk. I remember it very clearly. It was early enough to watch the sunrise light up the clouds, and there was a soft breeze. In describing it later, I would write to a friend that I felt like Elijah; I could feel God’s presence in that breeze. About this time last year, I was in a pretty broken place, and I just started praying for so many things, praying God’s promises, praying that God’s will would be done in my life. And I simply prayed that I would hear God speak to me in a way that was real and tangible. I said, “God, I’m listening.”

It was the first time — at least in many months, or possibly years — I wanted to listen to God. But listening to God is more than a one-time commitment, especially knowing that God speaks in myriad ways.

That day in particular, I ended up running late and decided to take an alleyway shortcut to my apartment. I was still praying, “God, thank you for putting desires in me; help me to desire You. You are the only thing that satisfies me; You are more than enough.” As I made the turn into the alley – almost home – I looked down. On the ground at my feet was someone’s discarded fountain drink cup with two words in all caps: “FEAST ON.” I stopped in my tracks and made sure I was reading it correctly. Yes, those were the words: “FEAST ON.”

I don’t know if God makes a habit of speaking through the trash we find on the street, but I do not doubt that He can…and apparently, He does, because I know that was not a coincidence. “Feast” – that is the very word I would cling to in the Psalm where God invites us to the table to feast on the richest foods. And once we begin to eat, He says, “FEAST ON.”

Instead of fasting, I feasted this year. God became more than the sum of the intellectual and biblical knowledge I had accumulated over my life. I saw that He provides me with countless blessings on which to feast every day. God became the feast, and I finally accepted the invitation to partake in a way I had never been able to before.

Those words, “FEAST ON” (yes, all caps — that’s important), mark a turning point in my relationship with God, because I knew that God was speaking to me. And I could either obey the command to feast or continue to run away and hide.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that day lately, about what God is saying to me now. Last night I stared out my bedroom window for almost an hour, praying for some kind of relief from…well, everything that’s hard right now. And I don’t mean I was vaguely thinking about how nice it would be if maybe God would, you know, maybe be there for me. No, no. I wasn’t asking for comfort, but for strength to make it through the night, through this day…and then one day at a time after that. I was begging God to move. Like that morning last fall, I was really praying.

And then a line from a song that I haven’t heard for months — not since I left D.C. — came to my mind: ”You make all things work together for my good.”

I haven’t been able to shake that line. I said it aloud it as I ran this morning. I sang it as I got ready, and in the car as I drove to my first day of work. I cranked it up loud in the kitchen while I did the dishes. I’ll whisper it as I fall asleep tonight.

And in all of those different ways, I am praying it, because I have to believe that it is true, that God makes all things work together for my good. Yes, it’s a line from a song, but it’s also a promise from Scripture. And it’s going to be hard, but I’m committing to live faithfully according to that promise right now, just like I lived in the truth of “FEAST ON” throughout this year.

[Oh, and my first day at Christianity Today was pretty great. For a first day.]

-Melissa Steffan is an editorial resident at Christianity Today magazine and former intern at the Washington Post’s “On Leadership” blog. She writes at http://melissasteffan.wordpress.com/, and you can follow her on Twitter @melissasteffan. For those interested, the song she alludes to in this post is “Your Love Never Fails” by Jesus Culture – enjoy it, linked below.

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