Growing up my whole life as a Christian I always heard the stories of Jesus’ healing people or God speaking to someone, or even an angel coming and declaring the word of the Lord. I always thought it’d be much easier following God if I saw one of those happen!
I mean let’s be honest, we have those times we doubt God. We wonder “is this absolutely true?” “Do I really need to not ______?” “Wouldn’t life be better if I did this my way?”
It’d be easy to say, “Oh but wait, remember that time the angel just showed up in front of our TV and my brother peed himself.” If only I could see God do something awesome, then I’d never have any doubts ever again!
One day while in college, I’m driving through Tennessee in my ‘98 Ford Ranger. Looking sexy and fine as ever. It is wicked hot, so I go to a store to buy some water for my roommate and I. As I’m leaving the parking lot, I see a man with a sign that simply says, “looking for work … God Bless”. I do what most people my age would do, I stopped…. To plug in my phone so I could start cranking the tunes!
I start driving back to campus when I get the strangest thought – maybe I should go back and give that man some water, and just talk to him. I’m weighing the decision, then decide, “Nah man! I turn up my radio to drown out that thought.
The further I drive the louder the feeling gets. Then all of a sudden, my heart hurts. Like literally. As in physically. I think I’m dying. My 1st thought – can 19-year-olds have heart attacks?
I slam on my brakes and grab my chest. The feeling of need – not want – but need to go and talk to this man is screaming in my head. My selfish, pride filled mind responded with “Why God why!??!”
Then I remember a few days ago I prayed, “God I ain’t messing around no more. I’ll follow you no matter what. I know I haven’t taken you seriously but, I’m going to now”. My mind immediately goes, “Oh S***. I think God is talking to me. Crap. Crap. Crap. I don’t want to do this. It’s hot, inconvenient, and I’m poor, and I paid for this water.”
I drive back to the man the whole time mumbling under my breath how mad I am at God. The whole time my heart continues to hurt.
I park, grab some waters, still mumbling my anger to God for this interruption in my life. I walk over and start talking to the man, give him some water, and immediately my heart stops hurting.
We talk for about 20 mins, just shooting the breeze. Then he says to me, “I know you got better places to be. Thanks for stopping by and talking to me, it means a lot to me.” I smile feeling good for myself and what a good servant I am for God and say, “You are welcome. I’ll be praying for you”. Hopped back up in my truck and went back to my sexy cranking my tunes.
I never saw him again. I looked several times, even took special driving trips to look for him. In a town of 8,000, there weren’t a lot of places to hide or other homeless people asking for work. I didn’t know it at the time, but this man and this interaction would teach me a lesson that impacted my entire life (too dramatic???)
A few months later, I’m back in Rhode Island for the summer. Ahh summer, the season of fun, tan lines, and late nights!
Well……. Remember that time I talked about fear? Yeahhhh…. This was the most fearful moment of my life.
Instead of a few minutes wrestling with God I spent two months fighting with Him. The only reason I didn’t keep going is that I was getting tired. I’m stubborn, but God is way more stubborn than I am! Instead of yelling, this time, I cried, “fine God you win. I don’t know why you want me here, but you win”.
That was five years ago. I’m still in Rhode Island, and in full-time ministry, I have a smoking hot wife, a beautiful baby girl, a bunch of stress, still doubting, not sure what I’m doing half the time, but loving this journey, I am on. Everything awesome in my life, (yes!! My wife and kid are the top 2!) I can point back to the moment I cried, “fine God you win” as the reason I have it in my life.
I used to think God showing up in your life would be so cool. I used to think it’d remove any doubt. I used to think it’d be something I could brag about. What I learned is that it just highlighted the extreme need I have for God’s grace. God showing up in my life challenged me in ways I didn’t think possible.
At the end of the day, I know my life is better because I followed God. Now, he doesn’t always talk directly to me like these remarkable experiences. Sometimes it is a whisper, and sometimes it is through other people.
It is easy to drown that voice out. When you do that, it will slowly, slowly, slowly fade away. God is not going to pressure you into following Him. You will also never know what would have happened if you had followed Him. You will never know what could have been, the mistakes you would have avoided, and the people you could have impacted.
Often I’ll sneak into my daughter’s room and pick her up while she is sleeping. Outside of my wife, there is nothing that brings me more joy than holding this beautiful baby girl in my arms. In these moments, it is not lost on me that there were more than a few times I almost gave God the finger and said, “screw this I’m not doing what you say.” If I could go back in time and tell myself the amount of joy I would have from following God – maybe I wouldn’t have resisted so much.
If this happens with the big moments in life, imagine all the smaller moments we say yes or no to God. The awesome thing is we all have a chance every day, multiple times a day to say yes to God. We never know what hangs in the balance of those small or big decisions until further down the line in our journey. Saying yes to God will open your eyes to the work he is doing in your life and all around you. It won’t, however, get rid of all doubts, worries, and anxieties. It will teach you how much you need God and humble yourself off your pride ladder.
Have you ever felt God leading you in a direction? What was it? Did you follow or walk away? I’d love to hear about it, please shoot me an email or leave a comment below.