Part One: Stone Pillows and Louis Armstrong

Yes, part 1, I had to split this into two parts because I have gone over my self-imposed word limit….

Out of the many things that you can be surprised by, (let’s just think of the positive ones)…by your spouse, your kids, a friend, a coworker, a random stranger….the best ever is to be surprised by GOD.

I am here writing at the same coffee shop that I was at when God shocked me with His specific attention. It was one of those moments that you cannot argue with:  a THIS WAS GOD moment.  Not like a Jacob’s Ladder type of moment, where angels were coming up and down out of the sky on a stairway and the LORD spoke from the top of that stairway, and a monument was then built in memory of this incredible event.  Yet at the same time it was exactly like that, because it was personal and dramatic.   It spoke loudly over the lies in my mind that I listen to so very often; God does not see me, God does not love me like him/her, God is not that interested in me.

Back to Jacob.

He was running for his life.  Maybe he knew how great a hunter his brother was and that he could take Jacob out with very little effort.  Maybe Jacob grew up believing the same lies that I just mentioned.  Gen. 28:11 says that after running as far as he could before dark, he took a stone that looked good enough for a pillow and went to sleep for the night.  God surprised him with a dream that was so real and incredible that Jacob made that stone pillow into an altar and devoted ten percent of whatever he earned to Jehovah.  Jacob received a good dose of hope that night that he in fact would not die at the hands of his brother.

Something else possibly ended up on that altar:  Jacob’s unhealthy desire and drive for grasping for what he believed his brother had that he did not,  and the unlikely approval of his father, Isaac.

That stone was something Jacob probably did not think twice about; it was just handy, sitting around, better than putting his head directly on the ground.  But that very hard place was turned into a symbol of promise.   Jacob didn’t receive the fulfillment of Jehovah’s words right then.  But he became convinced of God’s care for him.  And that was apparently all he needed.

God can use the sparsest of situations to speak to us.  If you are in a season that is desperate, lonely, feels like death, an it-can-only-get-better kind of place, you are in a great way for God to surprise you.  He may take something that you encounter or must deal with that is awkward and uncomfortable and rock hard, but because of the situation it is all that you have.  There was nothing special about the stone that Jacob picked up, but it became a remembrance of encounter with the Living God.

When God surprises us we can say with Jacob, “”Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” (Gen. 28:16)

Back to me.

On that day a few years back, I was journaling in a book that a friend and I were working through.  It was a reflect-on-your-life kind of book and one chapter caused me to remember the father of a childhood friend who I adored.  Whenever I climbed into their car for a night out with their family, he would sing a song about my eyes.  He died suddenly not long after that, but for all these years his words have remained in my mind, his gentle way of telling me that I was special.  Problem was, I did not know what song he was singing.  Many years later, I was dying to find out.  It was one of my tender memories from childhood, in the midst of many painful ones.  I decided to do an internet search for it when I got home.

In the meantime, I continued to journal, and I noticed that the music in this coffee shop was very loud, annoying even, probably because I was the only customer and there was not enough coffee-drinker noise to muffle it.  I almost got up to ask them to turn it down.  Being the unassertive person I am, I didn’t, and kept writing.

Then I heard it.

The coffee shop plaster ceiling opened up, and instead of angelic voices, it was Louis Armstrong with his gravelly voice scraping against the speakers.  “Jeepers, creepers, where’d you get those peepers, jeepers, creepers, where’d you get those eyes?”  Ever so slowly, (imagine the Father elbowing the Son and saying, “Wait for it, waaaait for it…”) it dawned on me…I had heard this song before….only sung by….my friend’s dad…….to me.

Stunned, I put my pen down to try and hide the tears squirting out of my eyes. (From whom?  There was no one else there.)  I would not need an internet search; God arranged to have it played on the random coffee shop canned playlist especially for me as I sat there just five minutes ago thinking about it.  I have not heard it in public in its original form before or since.

Do you or I deserve this kind of attention?  No, just like Jacob didn’t.  It’s not about Jacob, or me, or you, it is about God and His character in motion.  It is about His promises.  So get over it and let Him do what He loves to do.

God will in fact go to a lot of trouble to prove His love to you.  It isn’t difficult for Him at all, but worth setting up in such a way so that on a human level, it was a lot of trouble. The result is a greater impact in our understanding  of how important we are to Him.



  1. Nothing quite like a special ‘Daddy’ moment to make you feel loved. God has blessed me with a few precious moments like this. Its wonderful!

  2. Darla I second that! That was beautiful Jennifer….the words ring so sweetly in my ears right now and my heart is pounding with excitement as I recall my own God surprises! So true….did you know that “It’s not about you.” is the first sentence in Rick Warren’s the Purpose Driven Life. You don’t know how many times or how many ways I’ve been enlightened to the meaning of that sentence! Jennifer you painted a beautiful picture with your words…keep up the good work! Can’t wait for “Part 2” 🙂

  3. Jen This was really well written and beautiful! I love your heart!

    I think what is so sweet and upside down about the Lord — and I think Jen captures it here — is that the He has absolutely no problem making it “about us”. The Cross testifies to that. He has energies and momentum to devote to us. Fully loved then, we can love others fully. Father is pretty sneaky like that!

  4. Why do we always need reminding about His special love for us–when it is written all over the pages of Scripture. Yet we do–at least, I do, and the lies we tend to believe would say something quite different. Thanks for this gentle reminder–which I really needed TODAY! Bring on Part Two, please! Georgia

  5. hi Thanks Jen for opening your heart to us. He cares so much when we are hurting when sometimes know one else does. His surprises are extravagant.

  6. Jen, I felt like I was sitting in the coffee shop, when Louie’s song came on. I remember your eyes when the Spirit of God was touching you. I remember the soft heart you had. I remember the poetic soul. When I read your beautiful devotion this morning just as much as you were touched remembering a childhood memory when you heard the song—-I remembered you…

    I give thanks this morning that God has continually kept your heart in a soft place where His Spirit can so easily speak to you.

    You my friend are a JEWEL that God has refined. Thank you for sharing!

    Your friend for life,


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