Rhyming with God

Long ago, a children’s sermon delivered by a wise, older cousin unexpectedly became part of the fabric of my spiritual life.

“When thoughts come to our mind,” he said, “we have to figure out what to do with them. Is it something that goes in the trash? Is it a thought to put in our heart’s treasure box? Or is it something we don’t understand and have to put on our faith shelf for a while?”

For me, that simple but profound lesson helped me know what to do with not only thoughts, but also experiences. Sometimes things happen that I don’t know how to process. Hearing that children’s sermon gave me the freedom to put those things on the “faith shelf,” trusting that some day I would understand more. Being able to do this greatly decreased my anxiety about unknowns.

Last year I went through an experience that I had to put on the faith shelf. It was an intense year, working as a nurse through the Covid pandemic. So much I still don’t understand–the loss, grief, fear, shifting of foundations and questioning of who I am. But by far the hardest for me was feeling like God was distant.

I’ve always cared about hearing from God. It’s the one thing that sustained me through the worst times of my life.

Not being able to hear Him in a time of crisis was devastating. I was risking my life and health to care for others, and my commitment to do so caused upheaval in just about every area of my life. I needed Jesus. I needed Him desperately. But I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I didn’t have the energy to stop and figure out what was breaking the connection that was normal for me. I felt horribly alone.

One day I admitted another Covid patient to our unit. He struggled to breathe, talking to me between wheezes and gasps for air. Decked in my full protective gear, I got my patient settled into his room and began assessing him.

As I took my stethoscope off his chest, he looked up at me, as if he was finally realizing the severity of the situation. “What…” his voice faltered, “what if I have this virus thing…?” he asked. I saw raw fear in his eyes.

My heart in my throat, I gently put my hand on his arm and looked into his eyes. “We will take good care of you,” I said, while knowing very well he might not survive. “You won’t be alone.”

Sure enough, by the end of my shift, my patient had crashed. We intubated him and my hands squeezing a bag-valve mask was the thread keeping him alive until he could be flown to another hospital. Even when he was sedated, I reassured him, “we are right here with you. We will take care of you.” I didn’t know if he could hear me, but I kept talking to him because I didn’t want him to die alone.

Even though I was in a season of struggling to feel connected to God, when I entered into that man’s fear and told him I would not leave him, God’s presence became nearly palpable in the room. I felt His love in my heart, His kindness in my hands, and His reassurance in my voice. I knew that God was with me.

Maybe I still couldn’t hear Him, but I knew He was there. We were in this together.

For months I struggled with a framework to describe the connection I experienced. How could I know God’s presence by feeling Him work through me to bless someone else?

Last fall I picked up a book titled Joyful Journey: Listening to Immanuel and unexpectedly found the words to describe the experience that I had put on my “faith shelf.”

The authors (Wilder, Kang, Loppnow, & Loppnow) describe a part of the Christian life that they describe as rhyming with God. In Scripture, poetry is not made of rhyming sounds, but of rhyming thoughts. As we are God’s workmanship–or poetry–as described in Ephesians 2:10, we become so connected with Him that we think like Him, act like Him, love like Him. I began to see that this kind of living is a far deeper connection than merely conversing with Him. I wanted to hear from God; God wanted me to walk with Him.

Even though I felt so unspiritual, in the Covid unit I connected with God’s love and gave it to people who were sick and afraid. I rhymed with Him by changing their soaked linens, offering them ice chips, and adjusting their oxygen. I carefully administered meds, turned their helpless bodies, and offered the comfort that God Himself wanted to give. God and I worked in harmony, our love rhyming into an intricate work I could not have done alone.

This awareness of rhyming with God has been transformational for me. Knowing that I can experience how God feels toward others makes me feel connected to Him even when I am tired and don’t feel special or think I have anything of myself to offer.

Thinking God’s thoughts and being deeply connected to Him brings peace. When I’m rhyming with God, the peace of Christ rules (Colossians 3:15) even through times of silence and uncertainty, and I know that I’m not alone.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

23 thoughts on “Rhyming with God

  1. Judy

    Beautiful, Rosina! Now I believe I understand why you are at home healing – so you can have this time of looking inward and sharing what the Lord is showing you to inspire others thru your writing in ‘arabah rejoice’! Thank you so much!


  2. Miriam Iwashige

    I wonder if this “rhyming with God” isn’t the way that many of my dear Christian friends operate most of the time, feeling fulfilled and secure, without feeling like they’re missing out on anything that is critical to their feeling connected to God. I can identify with that, but I also identify with having experienced hearing from God, so I understand how longing for that feels right too. I love the clarity of the main points in the children’s sermon that blessed you. It blesses me too.


  3. Lois Reed

    Thanks for these words, said so well! Your analogy is meaningful- to be with others like God is with us! Thanks for your willingness to be this for others in this difficult time! God bless you!


  4. Rosina, I wept my way through your experience in ministering to the Covid patient. I have been on both sides of that experience. As a pastor for over 40 years, I have felt those times of rhyming with God and they sustained me and those to whom God led me. As a double organ transplantee, liver and kidney, I have been cared for with a tenderness that surely was from God as the care takers rhymed with the love of God. You rhymed with God as you wrote this blog and thereby blessed this old man of faith.


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