I’ve kinda told this story before, but it’s worth expanding on. Especially now. Warning: this is going to be long, but it needs to be. God’s blessings have been THAT abundant.
A couple of years ago, I felt the Lord saying, “Come away with me.” Every time I went to prayer (sometimes even when I wasn’t praying), I heard it: “Come away with me.”
I knew He had something He wanted me to know - something important. He asked me to give Him more undivided attention so that I could hear Him clearly.
There were a lot of stressful things going on in my life at the time, so finally (eager to find peace), I surrendered. I gave up all forms of social media and gave that time to His Word instead. I woke an hour earlier each morning and gave that time to His Word also.
It’s a very long story (a story so amazing that I hope to someday write a book about it) but in those quiet moments in the Word, Jesus gave me a very clear command. He said, “Go home.” The Lord wanted us to move back to our hometown.
I didn’t know how on earth we would be able to do that, though. So, for for eight months, I just kept soaking in His Word. I listened, then followed, and He blessed. We prayed, then obeyed, and He acted.
The Lord parted seas and moved mountains. We saw miracle after miracle after miracle. Each was like a divine fingerprint saying “I’m here. I got this. Keep walking.”
So we did.
Then, finally, on August 23rd, 2019, we moved into a new house in our old hometown. But, as strange as it sounds, I knew that day wasn’t the end of our journey. I knew there was more that Jesus was trying to tell me.
So the very next morning (my first morning in our new house), I got up early again like I had done for the last eight months. I sat down in the living room, surrounded by boxes. I opened my Bible, randomly, to Song of Solomon chapter two.
At that point in my life, I had never read Song of Solomon before. But that’s what I opened to. My eyes immediately went to verse 1: “I am the Rose of Sharon, a Lilly of the Valley.”
I looked out the large windows in our new living room. There were several (huge) Rose of Sharon bushes blooming. The branches were actually reaching in the open windows, and white flowers were pressing against the screen.
Song of Solomon continued, “He brought me to the banqueting house... Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, looking through the lattice.” (2:9)
It’s impossible to describe the peace I felt sitting there looking at those bushes. I knew the Lord was there with me. He was speaking to my heart. And all was right in the world.
And Song of Solomon continued, “My beloved speaks and says to me: ‘Arise, my love...and come away with me...’” (2:10)
There it was, again. “Come away with me.” I heard Him say it eight months prior. And that morning, He said it again.
And Song of Solomon continued, “The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” (2:12)
And a turtle dove cooed out my window.
And Song of Solomon continued, “Arise, my love...and come away with me.” (2:13)
I think it was one of the most powerful mornings of prayer that I’ve ever experienced. It was a moment where God not only made His presence known, but also confirmed His presence in all the moments that led up to that one.
That first morning in our new home, He led me to the scripture, “come away with me” (which, before then, I didn’t even know was scripture). It was like He reiterated the initial invitation... at the fulfillment of the promise.
But again, that day wasn’t the end.
That morning, He essentially said, “See what happens when you ‘come away with me.’ Look what I did. Look where I brought you.” But He didn’t say this to me as if it was some final line of the story.
No. That morning, Jesus reiterated the call as an invitation to CONTINUE the story. He reiterated the call to explain that I just completed a “phase” of the journey with Him. I wasn’t truly “home” yet. He was inviting me to begin again and continue on.
That morning, I understood that our 8-month physical journey home illustrated a much bigger, spiritual journey “home.” Those eight months were not as much about where we were going but how we would get there. It was a journey into new levels of trust. It was a journey into the depths of God, into holiness.
And I still had a long ways to go on that journey.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but the next “phase” of the journey would literally be spelled out for me in Song of Solomon. (That, too, is a very long story that fills a 5-subject, college-ruled notebook—again, which I hope to put in a book someday.)
Anyway, the title of the section I read in chapter two that morning is titled, “Springtime Rhapsody.” I read it on a beautiful SUMMER morning, though. So I knew (somewhere deep in my heart) that I would understand more about our “journey” next spring. I knew something awaited us.
Enter Spring of 2020. Enter the pandemic.
We closed on our old house days before the shutdowns started. We had no idea shutdowns were coming, though, so we had no idea how perfect the timing was. Naturally, I wondered if that closing was the “thing” that awaited us, since the selling of that house made our homecoming more “official.”
But it was just a small piece of the puzzle. It was just one of the many ways God was still taking care of things.
Unfortunately (I hate to admit this after all that God had done for us), but I hadn’t “come away” with Him as much as I promised I would. There were things going on that kept me busier than I’d ever been before. In fact, most nights, I was lucky if I got a messily three hours of sleep.
So, on my birthday, March 12, 2020, I made a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Truth be told, I was at breaking point. I had no clue what to do; I had no words to pray.
I was the only one in the chapel at the time, so I did the only thing I could. I laid face-down on the floor, prostrate before the tabernacle. My body was too tired to kneel. My brain was too tired to pray. But my soul approached and declared, “Here I am, Lord.”
It was a nonverbal prayer (a sort of yearning, if you will) to “come away with Him” again. My body, mind, and soul were begging for the opportunity to return to Him. But how? I was barely sleeping. There simply weren’t enough hours in the day. There was just too much going on.
“Make it stop, Lord,” I cried. “Make it stop.” These were the only words I uttered in that chapel that day. I laid there on the floor like a dead battery on a charger. He loved on me. And I soaked it up.
After awhile, I got up and kneeled before Him. Then I blew Him a kiss, and I left. That was March 12, 2020.
Then businesses closed.
Needless to say, I felt a little guilty when that happened. Okay, I felt A LOT guilty. I was like, “Uhhh...wait... did I pray for this?”
Of course I didn’t. But then it dawned on me: springtime. Something awaited us in springtime.
Never, in a million years, could I have imagined that a pandemic awaited us. And as things unfolded, I started feeling a little duped because I thought what awaited us was something “good.” Not a forced quarantine and closings.
But even though I couldn’t have imagined it, God foresaw it. God knew what was on the horizon and He started preparing us for it a whole year in advance. (I honestly don’t know what I would have done if we lived away from family during 2020.)
As it turned out, quarantine was another invitation to “come away” with the Lord. The pandemic presented a host of challenges and new stresses, but I was able to get back to the Word. I was able to get back to Song of Solomon.
It wasn’t planned (at least by me) but, ironically, I went back to Song of Solomon (and the Springtime Rhapsody) the same time we began to experience our first spring in the new house.
I went back to chapter 2, verse 1: “I am the Rose of Sharon, a Lilly of the Valley.”
The Rose of Sharon were not blooming or even budding in the front windows at this time. BUT, out the side windows.....
Guys. Out the side windows, I noticed hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of lilies. Several different kinds. Blooming in a real-life Springtime Rhapsody. The Lord was there with me again. Though, truth be told, He never left.
As I would come to find out, the white lilies in the flower beds that circle our house are actually called Lilly of the Valley. The hundreds of white lilies that cover the floor of the woods around the house are called Trinity Lilies (also known as Trillium).
As the months progressed, I would also come to find Day Lilies, Pinkster Lilies, even a flowering plant called — get this — Solomon’s Seal. (I can’t make this stuff up.)
Last spring, I went away with Him in a quarantine. Everything in the world was uncertain and volatile... but, the Lord orchestrated a sort of Springtime Rhapsody around me like a bubble. The world spun around in confusion, but at home Jesus revealed Himself with clarity. He was with us every single minute. All we had to do was look for Him.
Fast forward to this year. The spring of 2021 has brought a host of new challenges and stresses. But He’s still calling “come away with me.” And I’m still trying.
I’ve been reading the book of Tobit. That, too, has been filled with all kinds of amazingness—especially chapter 6. Basically, Tobias had to go on a journey to a nearby town. God sent the archangel Raphael to go with him, so that Tobias would make it there and back home safely.
Along the journey Raphael and Tobias stopped at a river. They caught a large fish that God sent as medicine and healing for Tobias’ family.
As I was reading this, God reminded me that a dear friend gave me a statue of the angel Raphael as a going away present when we moved from our hometown. The Lord also reminded me of the first church we attended in our new town—and the beautiful life-sized statue of (you guessed it) Raphael, Tobias, and the fish that stood on the side altar.
He reminded me of many other coincidences, and I knew with certainty that the Lord sent an angel to accompany us when we moved—and he did it to ensure we would someday make it back home safely.
I smiled when I got to Tobit chapter 11, titled “Homeward Journey”... thinking about the various provisions (the “fish”) that God has provided these last couple of years. In fact, He then took me on a “fishing” trip through the Bible. For a couple of days, I studied various fish-related scriptures and pondered the deep personal messages He was sending me about my journey.
But like I said, I knew our homecoming wasn’t the end of the story. And the Lord confirmed it once again.
When the kids got home from school, we went outside in the yard. The Trinity Lilies were flowering in the woods; the Lily of the Valley were growing taller in the beds along the house. A new Springtime had started.
Then I saw it.
The grass was covered with these strange green leaves. At first I thought they had all fallen from a nearby tree or bush. But when I looked closer, I realized they weren’t just laying on the ground, they were actually growing out if it in the grass.
“Where did all of these things come from?” I wondered. “And what are they?”
I didn’t notice them last spring. But this year it was as if someone had seeded our yard with them. Then I saw a little patch of leaves that had started to bloom with tiny yellow flowers.
I took a picture of them in my nature identifying app to see what they were. As it turned out, they are “Trout Lilies.” Yes that’s right. The entire yard is covered with a Lilly named after a fish. And I mean the ENTIRE yard.
I just stood there in amazement. The Lord was with me again, making His presence known in a brand new Springtime Rhapsody.
Some people might say it was just a coincidence. Some might say I’m reading into things. But, friends, the Lord was reminding me that as things once again get more volatile in the world, He’s still very much holding things in place. Securely.
The Lord sent His angels to help us and provisional fish to sustain us. He’s been preparing for our protection and healing long before we ever thought about asking for it.
Now, I know this story is long. I know most readers jumped ship many paragraphs ago. But there is someone who has not. Someone is still reading.
That someone needs to hear this... the Lord is not absent, the world is not out of control, and the future is not at all as volatile as we think. In fact, the Lord of creation often uses His creation (people, even nature) to speak to us, reassure us, even provide for us.
But we have to be looking and listening for Him.
When we hear the still, small voice saying “come away with me,” we have to be willing to actually go. We can’t stay in the world (in the chaos and stress and confusion) and expect to live in peace and security. That, my friend, is only found in Him.
Unfortunately, all of us have uprooted ourselves from the spiritual life at one time or another. All of us have wandered away. (Is. 53:6) But He’s calling us to return—to return to the Word, to prayer, to an awareness that we are not alone.
The Lord travels with us on the “Homeward Journey.” With each phase He brings to life a new Springtime Rhapsody in our hearts. He works signs and wonders, and He awakens us to new levels of faith, hope, and trust.
But we have to look for Him. We have to go to Him. We can’t sit in the city and expect to feel the mountain breeze. Every day we have to leave “the world” for a time. We have to ascend the mountain of God in prayer.
Friends, we have to respond to the call. Even if you’ve ignored it in the past, don’t worry. It’s a call that reverberates beyond the confines of time and space. It’s a call that echoes eternally and never ceases.
“Come away with me,” He says. “Come away with me.”
He’s waiting for your response.