As a kid, I came home from morning kindergarten to an empty house and spent the afternoon in search of my mom, even wandering across busy streets to scour neighborhood bars to find her. I was like the little bird in the 1960’s children’s book “Are you my Mother?” This little bird fell out if its nest and asked a kitten, a hen, and a dog, “Are you my Mother?” He searched high and low without rest until mama bird was found.

Psalm 116 begins:

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he has inclined his ear to me, I will call on him all the days of my life.

As people who dwell on Earth, we yearn. In many instances our only hope is to wait for a future time for full redemption of our created bodies and our created world.

In Romans 8 it states:

Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

During junior high, I lived in a beat-up mobile home with broken windows covered by cardboard, windows that I broke so I could get in after school. I spent most nights in a bar sipping Pepsi and eating Reese’s peanut butter cups while my mom drank the night away. The. Entire. Night. Until closing at 2 p.m.

These things didn’t bother me as much as you might think, I got used to them. But what I wanted more than anything was my mom to stop drinking. It was the deepest yearning I’ve ever had in my life.

For over 20 years I hoped for what I didn’t have, you could see it in my easy-to-tear eyes, my hands that quivered so much it was hard to hold a pencil, and finally, in my life choices that led me down a path strikingly similar to that of my mom’s. As a young Irish-Italian woman, I did not wait patiently, and I did not wait with hope in the Lord. I gave up, walked away, and forged a life of my own.

But that didn’t last. After several years of pushing my yearning down under a stack of failed relationships, and after my own drinking had increased, I once again took the mantle of the little bird and went in search of mom.

One day, on my way to work in Detroit, I saw my mom standing at a bus stop. It was one of those moments when realization comes a few seconds late, like a mental double-take. Then later that year, she sent me a Christmas card with her current address, which was only four miles away from where I worked.

Now I knew she was alive, and I knew where she lived. I just needed courage to open my heart to hope things could ever be different.

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he has inclined his ear to me, I will call on him all the days of my life.

I love that word picture. His inclined ear.

Do this with me. Cup your hand behind your ear. Lean in like you’re listening. Scrunch your face with intent. Now bend down as far as you can. Let your ear pique to hear the tender voice of a loved child.

This is what God does. He yearns to hear us as much as we yearn to be heard. When you see that picture, where is God’s ear? I believe it is so close he could hear you whisper.

Think about this for a second. If you could whisper something in God’s ear, so only He could hear, what would you whisper? My whisper was this: I want my mom. I may have whispered it, but it was a screaming force in my soul.

I showed up at her house unannounced one day – a shared lower-level urban flat, with her small collection of belongings stacked in a dining room forged into a make-shift bedroom. I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I stacked her stuff in the back of my blue Chevy Nova and moved her in with me.

I knew I needed to change. I was already in counseling, and I was desperate for something different, something more. And that led me to “just visit” a nearby church with my cousin, Jeanne. A Pentecostal, worshipping, repent and be baptized church. And it was just what I needed. And the words of Psalm 116 rang in my heart:

The cords of death encompassed me; the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!”

At the age of 26 I responded to the Holy Spirit’s call to give my life to Christ and be reconciled to God. I knew I couldn’t help myself, or my mom, without Him.

Imagine. A young hot-tempered woman with years of baggage sharing a home with an older, stubborn “don’t-go-there” mother who helped pack those bags ‘til they popped at the seams. And she was still drinking.

When I prayed for her, God gave me an ultimatum. Trust me. Follow me. Some nerve huh? I was praying for her, not me!

One Sunday morning, after my mom had been on a binge, I did what God had instructed me. I told her she had to stop drinking or she would have to leave. Oh, and yes, a fight followed that only a mother and daughter could have. Then I went to church. Do you ever bring baggage to church? I carried them in by the truck-load that day.

I cried during the entire service, afraid of what would come next – shoulder-bobbing, breath-heaving, snot-dripping sobs that I wiped with the back of my shaking hands.

I didn’t want her to leave. I could only trust and follow God through our mess.

Later that day, I came out of my bedroom and mom met me in the hallway. She said, “I promise I’ll do everything you asked.” I’d given her a laundry list of dos and don’ts that morning – and she agreed to them all, including alcohol abuse therapy and going to church.

And she never drank again.

I was as stunned as you are now hearing that statement. I spent the first few months expecting that ball to drop at every turn. I’d call mid-day from work, stay home as much as I could, watched the clock when she wasn’t home, anything to make sure she kept her promise.

But she didn’t promise me, she promised Him.

It was some time later, when I made a remark that exposed my fear she would relapse. She told me, “Oh, no, honey. That day when you left me in my room, I told God if he wanted me to stop drinking he would have to take the desire away, because I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed him to do it for me. I’ve never even wanted another drop since.”

Now in case you imagine we strolled off into some mother-daughter sunset, let me tell you, we spent a year in counseling, we fought, we cried, I pushed and she retracted. But she was sober, and we were both ecstatic to be together.

Besides the fact that we both wandered away from God. That we both chose a life of drinking to dull our pain, there is another part of our story that takes the same path.

  • We both reached the end of our own resources.
  • We both realized we needed something outside ourselves to help us change.
  • We both repented and turned to God through Jesus, and gave our lives fully to him.

God is as patient as he requires us to be. He will wait for us to realize that He is the Lord our God. And there is no other.

My mom’s ability to stop drinking in an instant was a work of God. A true miracle. But that miracle was years in the making.

Remember this:

  • I was in kindergarten when she started drinking.
  • I was 26 when I gave my life to the Lord.
  • Mom was 56 when she cried out to God and he healed her.
  • Over twenty years of accumulated yearning.

Now I’m not good with math, but that seems like a long time!

In Romans 8 it said:

Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Another favorite verse in Joel 2:25 confirms:

I will restore to you the fields that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust. Then you shall know that I am in your midst. I am the Lord your God. And there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame.

The 20 years that I waited for my mom to stop drinking were as slow as molasses as I lived them. Making decisions, suffering from bad choices, trying to do things my own way. Being angry. Crying out at night. Waiting for her to stop drinking. Trying to do something, anything to change our current circumstances. You could feel the years being nibbled away by distress and sorrow.

But I can tell you, the seven years she lived after that miraculous moment were so filled with restored fields you couldn’t find a locust among them. Even now, here I am at my mother’s age, and I’m still moved by what God has done in our lives.

Consider this:

If you could whisper something in God’s ear, so only He could hear, what would you whisper; Is there a screaming force in your soul that only He can help you with? Do you have any baggage; Is there something you need to unpack and give to God? Have you reached the end of yourself and realized you need to give your life totally to him through Jesus Christ His son?

Let the Lord know your answers as you whisper them today. He says, I am in your midst. I am the Lord your God. And there is no other.

We yearn. And if the picture of God inclining His ear in Psalm 116 tells us anything it is this—our God yearns, too. Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. (Psalm 116:5-6)

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