If you met Jane Johnson on the street and shared the bare-bones basics of who you are, she would tell you she is a woman who is caught in a passionate love affair with the Word of God. She is a Scripture-digger with a heart for teaching women how to study the Bible. In her debut book Mercy Like Morning, Jane shares the things she learned the hard way. When life broke her heart, Jane turned to Scripture. Through her decade-long journey of infertility, Jane dug in. While grieving the loss of her best friend, Jane dug in. While asking and waiting on God for miracles, her quiet time became her haven where she discovered new mercies every morning. With the kindness of a trusted friend, she serves as an encourager and mentor to anyone longing to dig into Scripture on their own. It is a grace to welcome Jane to the farm’s front porch today…
I sat next to a girlfriend on a Maui beach in the heat of summer. The south swell was in full effect, creating a massive shore break of waves that locals call double-overhead high. Some were as high as 12 feet.
We sat a safe distance away, with an umbrella shielding us from the tropical sun, and we watched the dwarfed shadows of our husbands bodysurfing in the break.
“I floated out here last winter,” she told me. The winter-calm waves had been still, the sea glassy. “My ears were just below the surface of the water, and I listened to the whales singing so loud and so clear that everything inside of me vibrated.”
I never really stopped to think that you could just poke your head underwater to hear the whales sing.
But it turns out you can. Those whale songs can carry on under the water for miles.
Every single year, humpbacks leave the frigid Alaskan water to make their yearly winter migration through our warm tropical sea to have their babies—December to May, just like clockwork.
And they come singing their way through the winter.
I tried to hear them a couple of times, but I never could manage to catch the whales in their song. Many winter beach days would find me wading out, floating, and listening to silence.
Wade. Float. Listen.
Wade. Float. Listen.
Over and over and over again. But still, no matter how many times I tried, I never heard them.
Until one day when my husband went out into the water with me. Only he went out a little bit deeper than I had been going. I had always stayed close to the shore, where toes could still touch and feet could still stand, safe and comfortable.
He went under the water and quickly came back up with a sparkle in his eye.
“You can hear them,” he said.
So I swam out to where he was and went underwater right where he did. And then I came back up, frustrated, shaking my head.
“Dive down all the way to the bottom,” he said. “Hover right above the surface of the sand, and listen. You’ll hear them.”
So I took a deeper breath than the last and dove down under the water and fought to stay down and strained my ears when, finally, I heard it.
It was faint. They were far, but I heard it. A faint whisper of a whale song.I was fascinated that something far enough away to be entirely out of sight could still be heard under the water.
I read a National Geographic article one time that said those deep vibrations can even travel for thousands of underwater miles. If a whale song can make that kind of breadth, it can also travel to equal depth—reaching miles below where that whale swims.
All the way down into the most secret recesses of the sea.
Hearing that whispered song reminded me of Moses.
Moses was overwhelmed with the responsibility of shepherding an entire nation of stubborn people.
It was time to move them out of the temporary home they had settled into at the base of Mount Sinai and lead them into the Promised Land—a vast expanse of terrain that was already occupied by foreign people with large and powerful armies.
After begging for confirmation that God was, in fact, leading them into Operation Take the Land I Have for You, Moses asked for one more sign that God was with them:
“Show me Your glory,” he whispered toward the end of Exodus 33.
“Okay,” God replied. “I’ll show you My glory by making all of My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you” (vv. 18-19, my paraphrase).
Did you catch that last part? The part about God proclaiming His name over Moses as He passed His glory-goodness over?
It sat there, tucked into the middle of verse 19 all this time, and I had never noticed it before.
I knew how Moses felt.I’d felt it before—wanting so badly to see God’s glory. But I never noticed that part of the glory-revelation is God proclaiming His name as He goes by.
After being safely hidden away in a dug-out hole inside a rock, God covered Moses with His hand. And only then, when he was hidden away in the darkness of that dug-out rock, under the shadow of God’s hand, did He pass by, proclaiming His name.
We can borrow Zephaniah’s words to help narrate the moment:
The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
And the word for God’s singing-voice? It also means “to proclaim.”
His song is the same in the dug-out rock as it is in the deepest parts of the sea.
You can dive down into the depths of His Word and dig down deep into the carved-out depths of His presence, and you can strain your ears to hear His still, small whisper-voice.
And eventually, you’ll hear Him.
Rejoicing over you with singing and proclaiming His name over you.
And that’s right about the time that you join in on the song and sing His name right back to Him, right there in the depths.
Jane Johnson is a wife and mother who is filled with a passion to teach women of all ages how to study Scripture. By trade, she is an author, designer, and one of the leading family photographers on Maui. Jane lives on the island with her handsome husband and her two miracle babies.
Born in a season of waiting, Jane’s debut book shares the story of her journey through infertility and how she learned to turn to God’s Word in her daily quiet times and increase her faith in the wait. Mercy Like Morning: Discovering Truth in Seasons of Waitingis a treasure map for women longing to learn to dig into Scripture with intention. We don’t always know how to spend time with God by studying His Word—or how to be truly refreshed and changed by the experience.
[ Our humble thanks to Harvest House for their partnership in today’s devotion ]