Every Guy's Got His Ugly Chair
Paul and I have this little battle that’s been going on for years. While both of us are definitely artists, Paul cares less about the design of our home as I do. He definitely leans toward function over form; while I just want everything to be pretty. He is so kind about letting me have a lot of freedom when it comes to style and decor choices, but there is this ONE thing that he will not let go of. We have fought about a ridiculous piece of “furniture” for three years now. I have finally resigned to the fact that this is a battle I will not win. The red, rusted, and broken camp chair stays.
I have tried to kill this chair... but it just won’t die. It sits outside beside our fire pit. Even when we have guests over and I’ve tried to make it pretty outside, there the camp chair will remain, front and center. No amount of wind or rain, or even three boys jumping in and out of it will damage this chair. One day I thought (hoped) it was really broken beyond repair. It sat outside during a pretty severe thunderstorm and got knocked around a good bit. But, no. Paul fixed it, of course. Fine! I raise the white flag.
So why does Paul love this chair so much? Why has he dug his heels in and won’t let go of this battle when, let’s be honest, most battles he lets me win? As much as I try to deny it, the red camp chair is special. Of any other space in our home, this old rusty chair, sitting outside, gets the most use... by far.
Let me explain.
At night, after dinner is cleared, the boys are showered, the baby is in bed... Paul will kiss us all good night and disappear. If it’s a cool night, I’ll hear the sound of an ax chopping firewood. On a warm night, I’ll see the glow of the market lights coming from the back yard. This is Paul’s time. Just him, the camp chair... and God.
Hours and hours will go by. By either firelight or moonlight, my husband will sit outside and talk with God. Some nights he says he just listens. He’ll hear the familiar noises of the crackle of the fire, the cicadas humming, the distant noises of the few cars still on the road... and sometimes, he says, God’s voice.
My husband searches for it. He will sit for hours waiting patiently for it. And when those nights do come where God will speak, Paul listens carefully. Then, he sits even longer to absorb what he heard. And while it may be just a few short hours till morning, he will move inside, flip on a lamp and write down the message in his journal.
Sometimes, the next morning, he’ll share with me what he heard, but not always. I don’t ever ask even though I know he’s been awake most of the night. I assume he is processing and will tell me when he’s ready. But on a morning not too long ago, Paul said to me, “I want to tell you something.” He followed it with, “I know this sounds crazy... but I heard a message last night that was loud and clear.” I sat quietly, staring at him as he looked out the kitchen window. “I felt like I heard God say, The roads are merging. ”
I froze. He looked at me. I stared directly in his eyes and couldn’t believe what I just heard. I stood up, walked to our room, and picked up my journal sitting on the nightstand. Walking back towards Paul, I opened to the page I had been writing in that very same night. I handed him the open journal and said, “This is what I drew last night while praying.” Paul didn’t move and just stared at the pages. Then he looked up at me with tears in his blue eyes. I had unknowingly drawn two roads merging.
While Paul sits outside in the red camp chair, I’m often sitting in bed, the nightstand lamp on, praying with my eyes open while I “draw” in my journal. Most of the time it’s just something to do while I think and pray. But this drawing was different. God spoke to both of us that night.
I wish I could tell you that we know what the message means. We have talked over it; prayed over it; listened and listened more hoping to hear an explanation of it. But we don’t yet know what “roads are merging”. What we do know is that when we ask God to speak, he does.
A few weeks ago, Paul got his first tattoo. It’s a compass arrow inspired by another conversation he had with God while sitting on a cliffside balcony in Italy. But after his first tattoo was finished, he decided he would go ahead and get a second one that same day. I’m sure you can guess what it was. Yes, the merging roads. After he first got them and people asked what they meant, he had a hard time responding. You can understand why. He now simply says, “They are special reminders of how God speaks.”
I must admit, I’m worried a little about how some may respond to this post. Some of you may think Paul and I are a bit crazy, and that’s ok. I have been processing over in my mind for a long time whether to tell this story and I finally felt like I needed to. Though we have no answers, and while we are still listening to hear what the roads are and how they will merge, I wanted to share with you about the journey we are on right now. Paul is spending more nights than ever in the red camp chair. He has heard other messages and prayed over many things. Yet, still no clarification on our roads. The timing must not be right, or we must not be ready and we’re ok with that. We are listening and that’s all that matters.
I don’t know what you believe when it comes to God and faith, but if you’re willing to read this, my hope is that you trust me. So I want to encourage you today. God speaks to all of us in different ways. In Job, it says that “God does speak - now one way, now another.” And that for some he speaks “in a dream, in a vision of the night”. For others, he may “speak in their ears”. I want to tell you that God WILL speak to you. Whether it’s while sitting under the moonlight, during a dream, or even through a drawing, it’s different for all of us. You just have to ask him to.
While I still on occasion tease Paul about the red chair suddenly disappearing, and might still secretly wish that lightning would strike it, the camp chair reminds me that I have a husband after God’s own heart and for that I am so grateful. In fact, almost all of the ideas and inspiration we were given for “the Blessing” have come to Paul while sitting in that chair.
I think the rusty red camp chair will stay.