May 31, 2016

Listen for God's Voice

Last week I found myself in a bit of a precarious situation. I decided to go out for an evening paddle last Wednesday evening despite some looming clouds. All day the skies had vacillated from sunny to cloudy and back to sunny again. It never did rain and the weather report didn't seem to call for rain, so I decided to go for a paddle in the clouds.

When I first started out, I thought what a perfect evening for a paddle! The current was low and the water was calm, the winds were low and the clouds shielded me from the blazing sun. Even the bugs were on their best behavior which is a rare thing in the evenings.

Since the current was low, I decided to go downstream and went about 2 miles before turning around. Once I did turn around, I could tell the current had increased since I first went out, but that was no problem. Then about half a mile later around 6 or 6:30pm, the bottom dropped out.

The rain fell so hard there was little visibility. The water ran into my eyes so I had to keep my eyes squinted to almost fully closed so my contacts wouldn't get wet or pop out, making visibility even worse.

Then the winds picked up. While I had no wind at all going downstream, I now had a head wind while also having to go against a stronger current and pelting rain drops. I had to return to my knees to lower my center of gravity in the strong winds and had to paddle with all my might. Anytime I'd slow down or switch hands with my paddle, the wind would try to blow my board back downstream.

There was no one around, not one boat, not one fisherman. Everyone had taken cover from the pouring cats and dogs, but there was no place for me to go. I just had to paddle the remaining mile and a half back upstream.

I have to admit, I was getting nervous and a bit scared. All I could do was pray, "Lord, please just get me back to the harbor." Fortunately, there was no lightning or hail, and despite the winds the water was still pretty calm. I'm so thankful for that.

I did finally make it back to the docks, but my legs felt like Jello. Having to paddle that far on my knees made them so shaky. And I was shivering from the wind blowing on my drenched skin. But I was glad to finally be back safe and sound.

Two days before this experience, I had written something down in my journal. Now, you must know that when I write in my journal, I do not record my own thoughts, and I don't write in first person. Instead, several years ago I changed from recording my own thoughts to instead recording the thoughts I felt God was sharing with me. It takes a lot of quiet time and focus to hear the still, small voice of God, but oh how powerful it is when you recognize it!

And it's even more powerful to journal in this way, writing it as if God is saying it to you, and then going back and reading it later. It shows how God knew what He was saying and knew what was going to happen. And even more important, it shows how God keeps His promises.

Two days before my frightening experience out on the river, God spoke to me through the scripture verse Isaiah 43:2, and I wrote it down in my journal as if He was saying it to me directly:  "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you." I was so amazed and comforted by this. God knew where I would be two days from then and He kept His promise to keep me safe.

If you've never spent time trying to hear from God, I encourage you to do so. God starts off by speaking to us softly with a still, small voice, so you have to get quiet to hear Him. Turn off the gadgets, get off social media, and get to a quiet place every day to listen for His voice. Start with reading your Bible because that's one of the first places He'll speak to you. Pay attention to the well-meaning people in your life because He speaks through them too. You'll be amazed at the difference in your life when you begin to develop these simple yet powerful daily habits.