“Is that you, God?”
How do you know whether a random thought that pops into your head is from God? What do you do when that random thought is so absurd that you seriously doubt it could be God?
Obeying God Isn’t a Science.
It seems to me that:
Recognizing God’s voice and obeying God is an on-growing relational journey during which each act of obedience teaches us something new.Tweet
In the meantime, as we grow and our hearts learn more and more how to tune in to God’s voice, we can learn from others. We can grow in wisdom and discernment by listening to others’ stories.
Can you grow by listening to my story today? I’d like to think so, even though it’s a rather ridiculous story.
This is my story about how I heard God’s still, small voice – smack in the middle of a major meltdown – and how obeying God led to a joyfully humbling experience that I’ll never regret…
I confess I find it difficult to hide my emotions:
- If I’m sad, you’ll know.
- If I’m excited, you’ll definitely know.
- If I’m melting down, you should probably flee the room.
At noon on a sunny Sunday, I woke up grouchy. I could feel myself brewing, so in an effort to get my mood under control, I went to church. A spiritual pick-me-up was sure to do the trick.
It didn’t. Disappointed, I drove home.
All of the emotional stresses and irritations from the past week were still festering inside me. Emotions pulled at my weary body, tugged at my sanity, and yanked at my resolve to be a stable wife and mother for the rest of the day.
Like an over-stretched hair elastic, I snapped.
(I won’t tell you the exact moment, the exact thing that made me snap because you and I both know that whatever it was, it wasn’t really what caused my meltdown, was it?)
Desperate to Hear God’s Voice
I marched out of the house, leaving my husband and children behind. If church couldn’t fix me, maybe a walk would work. I wandered down the street.
Help! I don’t want to be grouchy all day. This is not how I want the day to go.
I tried to breathe slowly: in and out, in and out. I wiped tears that trickled down my chin.
Please, please help me.
(Sometimes, we just need a divine intervention.)
Was God even listening? I couldn’t hear him, couldn’t feel him. Was he going to let me walk around the block, feeling alone; and then make me return to my family just as miserable as when I had stormed out? I felt fragile and broken, also stubborn and proud.
Why won’t you help me?
“Is that you, God?”
At the end of the street, I rounded a corner. I saw a woman, maybe 50 years old, spraying weeds on her side lawn about a third of the way down the street from me. Immediately upon seeing this stranger, a thought popped into my head:
Ask her to pray for you.
Ridiculous, I argued. I don’t know her. I don’t even know if she knows you. No. I’m not doing that.
With every stubborn, pouty step, I drew closer to her. The thought came again:
Ask her to pray for you.
I realized – with much horrification – that this was likely God’s answer to my pleas. I figured He probably wanted to encourage me through this woman, yet I was refusing to obey his instructions and would, thereby, be unable to receive his gift of encouragement.
I mentally crossed my arms.
Oh, well. Then, I’ll miss out. I’m not stopping, and I’m not asking.
But then, a funny thing happened. Just as I was about to walk past her, my feet stopped. As if there was an invisible wall in front of me.
I knew I could walk through the wall, if I wanted to.
I knew I could continue down the street, if I chose.
And I knew that I wouldn’t.
Cringing inwardly, I turned my body to face her at the exact same time that she turned toward me and smiled.
“I have an odd question,” I squeaked.
“Do you pray?”
With just the slightest furrow of her brow and tilt of her head, but still with a smile, she answered: “No.”
I started to ball. Yes, right there on the street in front of this stranger, I cried my eyes out. I had been so sure of the blessing God was about to grant me, that her answer was a complete shock.
“But I-I’m… such a-a… grouchy mom t-today,” I heaved. “And I r-really wanted s-someone to pray for me.”
The lady’s face remained soft and kind, but she didn’t answer. I didn’t blame her. I was being weird. And I was about to get weirder.
A Humbling Experience
Do you ever feel like you’re moving and speaking without knowing what you’re doing? Like you aren’t the one doing the moving or the speaking? This was one of those moments.
“M-maybe a hug would d-do the trick.” Without asking permission, I stepped up the curb and crossed the grass toward her.
“Really,” I said, walking straight into her arms, “I’m not a lunatic. Just a tired mom, and I think I really could use a hug.”
She hugged me back – a real, warm hug – while my snotty face pressed against her shoulder.
“I just want someone to take care of me.”
“I was just going to say,” she said in a gentle voice while holding me tight, “that being a mom is hard.”
“I know. I’m s-sorry. You p-probably have your own stuff going on, and now I’m making you hug me. My husband is going to laugh at this when I get home. This is so weird.” I wiped my nose with the back of my hand. “But I think it’s helping.”
“Oh!” She seemed surprised. “Oh, good.”
A couple of minutes later – (yes, seriously, this angelic stranger let me hug her for minutes) – I let go, wiped my eyes, and said,
“Okay. Thank you. I think that helped. I’m just going to finish my walk now and go back to my family and face life again.”
She smiled – or, rather, she continued to smile because I don’t think I saw it leave her face for one second during this whole encounter – and she picked up her weed sprayer and got back to work.
A Joyfully Humbling Experience
Walking home, I felt joyful. A bit dumb, but joyful. I swiped tears off my blotchy face and laughed out loud.
“Well, that was ridiculous,” I scolded God. “What was that?”
He didn’t answer.
Even so, I am certain of this:
- The stranger’s embrace felt like a hug straight from God. (I looked back at her a few times as I walked home, wondering if she was an angel and had already disappeared. As far as I know, she wasn’t and she didn’t.)
- I came home smiling! (Laughing, even. Whatever that was, it cheered me up.)
Did I hear and obey God that day?
Yes, I believe I did.
Was it a wee bit embarrassing?
Was the gift worth the humble pie?
Even when the outcome ends up being joyfully humbling, you’ll never regret obeying God.Tweet
For another true story about how I recognized and obeyed God’s voice, read Faith vs. Doubt.
Also, check out a similarly encouraging post by The Godly Chic Diaries called Learning to Say No.
Sara Jane Kehler