Shared Meanings

Shared Meanings

Some might explain these kinds of things away. Not me.

With shining eyes, He looked down at me and said, “Let’s play!”

shared storiesIf you’ve read my book, Closer Than Your Skin, you might remember those two words. It was the first thing Jesus said to me as we sat together on a teeter totter. I was a young girl in the scene, holding a big globe of the earth on my side.

The conversation went like this…

“Let’s play,” Jesus said, chiding me to push up my end.

“I can’t. This heavy world is on my side.”

“It’s not what you think. It’s really as light as a beach ball. One day, I’ll toss it away because it’s not what’s really important.”

“What’s really important?” I questioned him, sternly.

He smiled. “You and me.”

I thought about that, looking up at his radiant face.

He continued. “I want to teach you to roll the world back and forth with me.”

“What do you mean?” I said, thinking it too weighty to move at all.

Teen girl with planet earth.“There will be times when the world is too great a burden for you, and I want you to roll the ball to me. Other times, I’ll have something for you to do in the world, and I’ll roll it back to you. But if you don’t send it over to me now, we can’t play.”

That conversation completely altered my worldview. God was teaching Me about His sovereignty.

The simple vision happened during a prayer time at Elijah House in the 1990s. I’d gone there to do some intentional forgiveness work. While I forgave many people in my life, the big surprise was the tight-fisted unforgiveness I held against God. At the time, I didn’t think He was doing a good job of being God, and my brewing resentment undermined any relationship with Him.

You can’t get close to someone you don’t trust.

ForgiveOne by one, I identified and surrendered all my bitter complaints. Then, my counselor prayed for me. As I closed my eyes, the teeter totter scene appeared in my mind.

It’s important to say that I didn’t hear an audible conversation with Jesus in that moment. I merely opened my spirit to what He meant by the symbolism. God was speaking through an experience straight out of my childhood. As a young girl, I used to roll a ball back and forth with a friend on a teeter totter in Rocky River Park.

Communication involves shared meanings. And that vision, that scene, that conversation, became a building block of vocabulary between God and me. But the exchange didn’t end there.

photoIn September 2008, while waiting for a plane in Minneapolis, I watched CNN on a hanging TV monitor as the stock market crashed. It was likely the Dow’s worst drop ever. What was going on in our country? God could see the dread on my face. He could feel my chest tightening. He understood my racing mind. I couldn’t take any more bad news and decided to walk off my escalating fears.

I headed toward the mall area of the airport and passed a toyshop. Though consumed with anxious thoughts, I happened to notice that the store’s name was, “Let’s Play!”  It stopped me in my tracks. Those two words held such potent meaning. Like warm butter, the presence of God melted over me right there. With impeccable timing, God was inviting me to roll the world, our country’s problems, and the financial crisis back to Him.

I knew exactly what He was saying to me.

shared struggleA few years later, my husband and I were travelling in New Zealand. We woke up in our motel to a day of dreary rain, but I was heavy-hearted for other reasons. I remember sitting on the arm of a small couch, telling Duncan about my angst. The room had a sliding glass door that opened to a quaint backyard. A curtain covered the view, except for a narrow slit. As I aired my thoughts to Duncan, my eyes suddenly focused out the limited view through the glass door behind him. Perfectly framed in my line of vision, out in that backyard, at that particular moment was a teeter totter.

There it was again—a building block of shared meaning with God.

Job 33:14 assures us that “God speaks now one way, now another, though man may not perceive it.” In other words, God will talk to us in many ways, because we just don’t get it sometimes. Again and again, He used this one vision to say, “Susan, I am here. Let Me carry the troubles of the world…your burdens.”

shared peaceIt’s one thing to read about the promise of peace in Philippians 4:6-7 and turn our anxious thoughts over to God. But it’s far more powerful when God says the same principle in an intensely personal way with fresh timing.

Still, some might explain these things away. As for me—not a chance.

Please take a moment to think about your own vocabulary with God. It might be a single word, a symbolic image, a scripture, or the lyrics of a particular song—anything that you recognize as the touch of God in your life! If you’re willing, share your experience…


  1. There have been a number of reoccurring undeniablely-sent -from -God objects, songs, pictures, words, license plates!, scriptures, things in nature, etc in my years of knowing and being known by Him. One of these was white feathers. Maybe I’ve shared this before? If so, it’s enough of an encouraging marvel to repeat! When my mom died I almost “lost it”. Suddenly white feathers of EVERY shape and size began showing up in predictable AND utterly improbable, even impossible places. Sometimes daily. The spirit impressed upon me these were to assure me that my mom was still with me. Whether they were from her directly or from God was a moot point. This was happening during 2005-2008. As my heart began to mend, the feathers showed up less frequently, but even now when I have a “hard mom day”, a feather appears just for me. And then I am reminded and oh so re-relieved!!! I smile or cry or laugh or fall to my knees in awe and thanks. Sometimes all 4 at once. God LOVES it!!!! Often he joins in❤

    • Suzee…wow, the feathers are so beautiful. Love how creative God is to work shared meanings into our unique lives!

      • yes, i call it our ‘secret language’. i believe he has a secret language for everyone of his beloved children and sits on pins and needles waiting for each one to find the treasure of this supernatural communication. i know you know!

  2. Jack Giangiulio :

    Inevitably whenever I ‘ forget’ something ( wallet, snack food etc,) and need to return to my house I ‘ find’ something else in addition …ie. left light on, door unlocked, find item I had been searching for, dog left in room with door closed, always something. Now I look forward to losing or forgetting things. I see them as hints from God.