I know we've all heard stories in the Bible when God speaks to His people. Sometimes we're not sure how that was manifested: a feeling, a message spoken through someone, a voice booming down from the sky. Almost every month I come across at least one person who uses the term "God spoke to me" - a friend, an enlightened blogger... a televangelist - "God spoke to me and told me you need to sign over your yacht - that vessel is keeping your soul in the devil's grip!"
I sometimes wonder how God actually spoke to them. For myself, I've experienced many ways in which God is very clearly leading me, directing my path, and speaking to my heart in a way that just somehow perfectly answers the questions before me - it's usually a moment of true wisdom and understanding. He's also spoken to me through someone completely oblivious to my predicament, who says exactly what my soul needed to hear at that moment.
But one time, I literally heard God speak to me. I heard His voice. No, I don't need to seek out a psychiatrist.
It was ten years ago. I was changing my two year old son, Christian's, diaper. My older son was three years old, my daughter was one, I had recently miscarried my fourth, but was newly pregnant with my fifth little one.
As I peeled back Christian's diaper, I gasped. There was blood. I checked for lesions, but soon realized that the bleeding was coming from something internal. He had also developed a fever, so I was worried about a possible infection. I took him to a medical clinic and they sent us to the ER. An ultrasound revealed he had a tumor on his right kidney. They were quite certain it was what's called a Wilm's tumor. Cancer.
The tumor, and his kidney, would have to be surgically removed, but he also had a blood infection (unrelated to the cancer) which had been the source of the fever, and they couldn't operate until that was resolved. For two weeks I lived at Sick Kids with my son. My two other little ones were being cared for by various family members. It was so painful every time they would call to inform me that the toddlers were not adjusting well to my absence, and yet, I knew Christian needed me more, as he was terrified by every poke and prod, so confused by everything that was happening to him.
One day, my mother-law called to say that my one year old was very sick. She wasn't able to keep anything down and had been lethargic for days. She said she would need to go to the ER. My husband dropped her off to me and I sat holding her in the waiting room. I was so worried about her. Already small for her age, she looked especially fragile. When it was my turn to speak with the attendant, he began to ask me a bunch of questions about my daughter: When did the fevers begin? How much had she been drinking? How long had she been lethargic? Every question was painful for me, as I mustered out a feeble "I'm not sure. I haven't been with her." And then I fell to pieces. Stammering out, "My son has cancer. He's up on the eighth floor right now recovering from surgery. I haven't been there for my little girl. I'm so sorry, but I can't answer your questions." I could hardly get the words out. Tears streamed down my face.
Up until that point, I had been so strong. I hadn't even cried and I had resided in a state of calm and trust, feeling that somehow, everything was going to be okay. But suddenly, the reality, the magnitude of all I was facing was hitting me full on. The world seemed to drop out from beneath my feet. I thought of my baby girl, my sick little boy, my other baby boy at home who was feeling completely abandoned by his mother... I felt like the biggest failure. The world was pressing down on me I was too weak to stand, and I kept thinking that if I couldn't handle this, how would I be able to care for the little one still growing in my womb. I couldn't take the weight, the oppressive, crushing weight of it all. I couldn't breathe.
And then, all at once, it was lifted. Everything was taken up off my shoulders and I felt like I was being carried, enveloped - inexplicably wrapped in peace. And that's when I heard the voice. I heard it as though it was being spoken aloud. It was clear and powerful. I felt each word resonating in my heart. I knew no one else could hear it, I knew it was from within, but it was real, almost more real than anything I had ever experienced.
He said, "See this is how it would be if I were not carrying you."
I breathed in His graces and once more, I was calm, serene and unafraid. From that point on I seemed able to meet each demand with grace. My daughter soon recovered from her illness, I was able to return home to my three year old son and after six months of chemotherapy, Christian was completely cancer free (he's a healthy twelve year old now). I gave birth to my daughter, Mary, a month after his last dose of chemo.
I know that God almost never speaks to us with a clear, audible voice - He doesn't usually work that way. I was already madly in love with Him, I had already placed my life in His hands, but much of it stemmed from the gift of faith. Everything up to that point was simply a sense of His presence, a continuous knowing that He was with me, and a state of amazement time and time again as I experienced personal miracles and direct answers to my prayers. Faith is such a precious gift given to His children, and I never needed a physical voice to confirm the reality of who He is: a loving Father who desires to work for our good - for love of us. But He left a profound mark on my heart that day.
I wanted to share this blog today, because so many people close to me are really hurting, really finding it hard to surface - drowning in life's trials. So I wanted to share His message - that if we place our lives in His hands, He will lift us up, pulling us out of the suffocating anguish.
He may let us experience a taste of it, a moment (or sadly a period of greater duration) where we are overcome by distress, but it should only serve to help us understand how very much we need Him - how lost we would be if it weren't for His great love for us, and His desire to draw us back up into His arms. This message isn't some crazy, religious platitude, He has remained constant and faithful throughout the ages - His voice ever clear, cutting through the chaos.