I've noticed a correlation in the frequency of my journals and when God is speaking to me. I also need to clarify, I believe when we don't hear God speaking, its because we're not listening. My last journal entry was from April 20th. When I have my ears open, like when I'm on the mission field, my journal entries are daily, sometime twice daily. Its in those times I'm not complacent and have struggles that I daily must go to God with. I believe that complacency is one of the most dangerous things for a Christian. It deafens our ears and blinds our eyes. Well, today God spoke to me loudly and in various ways. I've been going through a drought the past few weeks as I went numb. I sometimes go numb from my emotions and spirit when I have little to do. While I am home that is the case. Before Christ I was a generally numb person with little connection to my emotions or my spirit, and this tendency is an after effect of that lifestyle. Its become less and less, but it is still a struggle for me. Anyhow, so my parents are away and I am home alone with a sister who sleeps most of the day, not that it matters because I spend almost all of my time in my room on this laptop. I have some things to do like turn on the sprinklers every couple of days or mow the lawn. My most regular thing to do is running, where God started shouting into my nearly deaf ears. Through everything he has said today, the one resounding refrain has been, "I am with you." Let me share.
Today was a long run, and I was aiming for 90 minutes. I know a hill nearby that takes me about 30 minutes to go up and come back down, so I figured three repeats would do nicely. Two-thirds of the way up this hill I had an episode. These episodes are hard to describe, but I will try with some background. A few years ago I was working on my undergrad going to school full-time, working full-time, running on the Cross Country & Track teams, and I joined the school Jazz Ensemble. I was spread way too thin. I got an average of about 4 hours of sleep a night when all of those things were going on. There is only so much the human body and mind can take, and I reached those limits. Maybe it was similar to a nervous breakdown, but ultimately I had to quit my job or quit school and I felt very strongly about the direction God was leading me with that. So I quit working, which raised other strains of life but not as big as previously. Anyhow it was after that I started having these "episodes." They are instances, usually when I'm running, but not always, where my vision narrows (not blacking out or anything like that, but my focus narrows to a point though I am still aware of my surroundings) and I have a strange sensation out to my limbs and a strange taste in my mouth. I then feel like all the energy drops out of me and I am all alone in the world. Its like everything important to me suddenly isn't and I have no desire for anything at all. At first these episodes were maybe once a week but became progressively intermittent to the point where before today its been a very long time since I've had one that I can't remember when. But this one was different. I felt all the same things and usually when it happens while I run I have to stop soon after with all my energy and motivation gone. I prayed a simple prayer, "Lord give me the strength and the will to keep running." I soon returned to normal without the usual after effects and hadn't even stopped running. I soon realized it was less of an "episode" and more of a "You need me. You are not alone, I am with you." from God. Not only for running mind you, but for everything. Which spoke to my greatest need that I wasn't even aware of, my loneliness. Furthermore as I neared the summit there was a bike race going on up that same hill and there were volunteers some of which were from Will C. Wood High School. An old friend and competitor from High School, Cheynne is not coaching that team and he was there. He may not realize, but God placed him there in part to say to me, "You are not alone." as I gave him my number and hopefully we will run together several times before I return to Canada. Today did not stop there. Coming home rejuvenated from a workout that should have leveled me and listening more clearly to God I got some things done that needed doing so I could go to church at Bridgeway in Rocklin.
Even the songs on the radio as I drove to church spoke directly to me and reminded me of His presence in my life that I had been numbing out. I even began to cry on some of the songs, which for me doesn't happen very often because I'm not a terribly emotional person. The emotions overwhelmed me even more when worship started at church. The songs I were familiar with like "I Am Free" by the Newsboys were making it so that I couldn't accurately hit any notes because of the emotion. There were two new songs to me as well that spoke directly to me. Here are the lyrics for "Love Came Down" by Brian Johnson, I've bolded a couple of the lines that really hit me.
If my heart is overwhelmed and I cannot hear your voice
I hold onto what is true, though I cannot see
If the storms of life they come, and the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith, I will believe
I Remind myself of all that you’ve done
And the life I have because of your son
Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am yours
I am forever yours
Mountain high or valley low
I sing out and remind my soul
I am yours
I am forever yours
When my heart is filled with hope, and every promise comes my way
When I feel your hands of grace, rest upon me
Staying desperate for you God, Staying humbled at your feet
I will lift these hands and praise, I will believe
Then there was Forever Reign by Hillsong United. Specifically the lines "I am running to your arms. I am running to your arms." The references to mountains, running, being overwhelmed, hearing, all of those things couldn't be coincidence. Actually let me be clear on this point, I don't believe in coincidence. There is meaning in everything, sometimes the meaning is no connection between the circumstances, but in something like this is so clear to me that there isn't any lack of connection. Let me restate that without using a double negative. There has to be a connection between the words of these songs and the way God has chosen to speak to me this day. There is one other thing, the lyric "I remind myself of all you've done" is the reason I even keep a journal or write anything like this. When God speaks so clearly, I must remember that it was so clear. If I don't write it down it is so easy for Satan to try and convince me I was making a bigger deal out of it than it was. So when things like this happen, I write them down as quickly as possible so I can read them later and remember.
And it goes on. The sermon by Lance this evening was, in my opinion, the best I've ever heard from him. It was on 1 Samuel 17, one of the most loved and well-known stories of all time, David and Goliath. I won't even try to do justice to his sermon. If you want to listen to it you can easily enough find it at Bridgeway Christian Church. It may take up to a week for it to be posted. The thing that I can tell you is how David focused on the name of God and that because God was with him, no man, Giant or no, could stand against him and his God. I serve the same God, and that same power, strength, and courage is available to me as well. So all of today He has been again and again telling me, "I am with you." Thats about as much encouragement as a man can possibly take. What has God been speaking to you? Have you been listening?
For His Glorious Name,
P.S. I bolded hope because it is a topic I've been thinking on lately and will likely talk about in the near future.