God still speaks. All of the time. To each of us, in amazingly unexpected and beautiful ways.
Last week, we asked the question, “Does God still speak?” and thought about the ways we still experience God in ways just as miraculous as those mentioned in “The Book” (aka The Bible), only we don’t document these moments anymore in scripture, as the biblical canon was unfortunately and untimely closed off to new stories, a long time ago, in an ancient galaxy far, far away.
God lives and moves in our own personal lives each day, and we talked about the benefits that come with the spiritual practice of writing this stuff down. If no one else will put it into a sacred text, where these moments belong, it’s up to us to record and document when these things happen in our own lives, so we can remember, and maybe flip back to those times in moments of questioning or struggle, and recall in comfort that God lives with us every hour, and is more deeply involved in our experiences than we can ever imagine.
So I thought I’d do this myself, here, just to give you guys an example. I hope you gain some benefit from reading this, and can apply it to your own moments of spiritual connection.
I’d mentioned in our last blog that God had worked and moved a whole lot in my life over the past month and a half, but didn’t mention how. Here’s what happened (some of it, anyway). Bare bones. And we can look into these things more, after I type those moments into this box.
Some brief back story: I’d been experiencing some frustration, recently, over where my life was going. Nothing new. Happens to us all at different times. I was called into the ministry when I was very young and have lived into that call since; but I was plagued by doubts, not too long ago, as to whether or not this was still the right path. I knew I’d been called, and answered that call the best I could; but I just wasn’t sure if where I was heading was still where God wanted me to go.
Overwhelmed with the question, I got down on my knees, in my study. Face-planted to the floor, arms spread long in front of my prostrated body. Laying it all out on the line. And I talked to God. Deeply. Personally. Sometimes I didn’t even think a word, knowing God knew what was in my mind, already. But through all, the conversation I had with God started with me asking God (Life) to show me where to go from here. I asked God to talk to me, and to talk LOUD, so I could hear past all of the clutter in my mind.
Blinking away the darkness of my eyelids, I finally stood from that rug, my early-thirties bones cracking from bending so low. The blood hadn’t even flushed from my face back down to my legs, before my phone rang on the desk. My mind still in that limbo state between prayer and the day-to-day, I staggered over to answer the call.
It was one of my parishioners. One I hadn’t heard from in long, long time. One I’d thought I’d lost from the congregation awhile ago. One whose recent absence on Sunday mornings had contributed to my sense that maybe I needed to journey on a different way. In that moment, just after I’d asked God to talk loud, his/her voice rang through my ear, telling me how excited he/she was about the ministry I was doing at the church, and about how confident he/she was that beautiful things would come from my working as a minister in the parish. In that conversation, all of the insecurities and doubts which had so heavily plagued my mind—each of the things I’d mentioned to God, only minutes before—were addressed. Spoken to. Eased. In audible words I could hear, and not confuse.
This was the first moment God spoke to me, in response to what I’d just said while my face buried in the floor. And it was loud, alright. Instantaneous, even. Beautiful, and breathtaking. I thought this was the end of the conversation, but I was wrong.
Only three days later:
I received another call. Very similar. Another congregant who I’d never before spoken with on the phone, called me in the middle of the day. Once again reaffirming and repeating what had been said in the last conversation. Once again—as if they’d been eavesdropping on my silent prayer—addressing each of my fears and doubts, like a subtle reminder from God, in case the effect of the first moment had worn off and faded away.
Seven days later, that following Sunday:
Our general church attendance had been another factor causing me worry about the effectiveness of staying this course in God’s ministry. Dropping numbers, across the board—in every church—had caused me to wonder if there was a different way I could be in ministry. A different way to answer God’s call that might be more effective.
The Sunday after I got down on my knees, our sanctuary *flooded* with people. Now, this is unusual, folks. Our “Little Green Church on the Hill” is a small one—our congregation intimate. But we had more inside our church walls that day than we had bulletins to hand out. Overwhelmed by the sight of all of these faces, I stood up to lead the congregation in prayer; and when I looked down at the pulpit, “randomly” splayed beside the prayer I’d written, were the words, “Don’t worry, He understands all of your frustrations.” I saw those words laid out right there, for me to see, at the pulpit where I’ve worked all of this time, and tears filled my eyes before I snapped myself back into focus to lead the group in prayer.
At this point, I could barely believe God was still talking to me—and at such mind-blowing volume. I’d thought Life had made Its point pretty clearly, but this still wasn’t the end. God was still speaking to me, even louder than I’d asked.
And I can’t for sure say why, but I think God understood better than I could myself, that even through all of this, my confusion was still with me. Because we’re stubborn people, right?
Even after all of this, about half a week later (I suppose, again, about three days—interesting), I laid it all out on the table in front of me in the family room, and I stood up, prepared to tell my husband I’d made a final decision. After this appointment, I was going to move on from parish work, into something else. It hurts to even type the words, now… but those were the words that filled me up in that moment, in front of the coffee table; and I’ll admit them. Ky walked into the kitchen, and I followed him. I breathed deep, and started the sentence. “I’ve made my decision,” I said to him, my voice almost pompous–belligerent—with my confidence in the choice. “I’m moving on from—-”
Before I could speak another word, the entire room fell pitch black. I kid you not. Every light in the house went away. Every sound disappeared. In that millisecond of shock, I waited for the lights to flicker back on so I could finish the thought. Nothing. Pitch black. I couldn’t even see Ky’s face in front of mine, less than a foot away. This was a moment of biblical proportions, in my book. I could barely believe it… but just because I couldn’t believe it, didn’t mean it wasn’t the truth, all the same. In that moment, God stopped me. God interrupted our conversation, like someone jumping in to save a close friend from accidentally playing the fool.
The lights didn’t come back on. Not for the rest of the night. We had no candles in the house (all of ours being burned down to the wick), and the only place we could find light was from inside of the church. There was a big box of candles in the fellowship hall, so with our flashlights, we walked through the dark into the church walls to find the light we needed, then returned home, to the parsonage. All night, our sight and footsteps illuminated only with the light used for Holy Service.
And friends, there was more. So much more. God kept talking with me, still in higher volume than I’d ever asked, through the rest of that month. Each time, the words coming louder, and louder, and louder again. I haven’t even yet come to the best parts; but this blog box is filling up fast.
I could write a book on what happened. Maybe one that, back in the day, would’ve made it into the canon. But I wanted to share at least those few moments with you, so you can gather a feel for what I’m saying when I mention that God still speaks.
We just don’t write this stuff down anymore, and we unfortunately can’t add them to our scriptures.
These were moments of miracle. Of course, we perceive and communicate things differently, now. If I’d been a biblical author of antiquity, when I first received that phone call after standing up from that prayer, I might have written:
I fell to my knees, beseeching the Lord, and behold, God’s voice rang from the heavens, saying, “I am the LORD your God. The father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have heard your prayers and will answer them with mighty deeds. You have been charged to proclaim the name of the Lord from this day forth, and I command that you live each of the days I have given you, speaking of the truth and love which I have shown you.” (Miracles 1:1-4)
But ya see, we just don’t talk like that anymore. Instead, I say, “I got down on my knees and talked to God. Then my iPhone rang on my desk, and I heard exactly the words I’d told God I needed to hear, in order to keep going.”
God works in the world today, still, in biblical proportions. Miracle after miracle, God lives and breathes in our lives in moments that stun us to silence and move our hearts in unimaginable ways.
God still speaks. The question is, do we still listen?