The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19: 11-12 NIV
God speaks in so many ways: through His word, in sermons, by friends and sometimes in that still small whisper that is, at times hard to hear. We miss it by the noise that constantly surrounds us. That noise may be family, career, media, selfishness…name your own noise. I frequently listen to respond rather than listening to hear so that I miss most of what the speaker is trying to say. I’m also the type of listener who has to take notes or I miss or forget the message. What happens when you are in a situation where God is speaking and you can’t respond or take notes? Where is the discernment that enables you to know it really is God’s voice or something else? What do you do where His voice comes to you without words? I’d love to be like Samuel who was told to say, “speak Lord for your servant listens” ( 1 Samuel 3:9), however I’m afraid that’s usually not the case for me. When God wants my attention, I’m apt to cry.
This is a time when, I believe, He spoke to me.
In 1976 we lived in our first house in Freeland, MI. Our son, John Robert, was 8 and daughter Becky was 6. My husband, John, had joined the Michigan Army National Guard after about 5 years of active duty in the Army. Every summer he was required to participate in 2 weeks of annual training, sometimes in Michigan, but sometimes in other states. This particular year his training was held at Ft. AP Hill here in Virginia.
As a family, we frequently tried to use his annual training as an opportunity to go camping. He would go to “work” during the day and we would get together in the evening and during the middle weekend to enjoy our camping experience.
In planning for this trip/vacation, John’s plan was to spend 2 weeks at Ft. AP Hill and then was scheduled for an additional 2 weeks of training in New Jersey to attend Command & General Staff College. Rather than drive all the way home to Michigan with us, the plan was for me to drive the car with the trailer filled with camping equipment and John would ride his motorcycle. At the end of the training in Virginia, John would continue on to New Jersey on his motorcycle, and I would drive home with the car, trailer and children. Seemed like a perfect plan for us.
The morning we were to leave for Virginia, John was in the garage preparing the motorcycle for his trip and finishing packing the trailer when I came out of the house and told him that something wasn’t right and maybe he shouldn’t take the motorcycle. Of course John just said it was one of my “feelings” and continued readying the motorcycle. After I few minutes, I came back outside and again told him that I didn’t think he should ride the motorcycle. After more discussion, I started to cry and said that he shouldn’t ride the motorcycle, but come with us in the car. My crying was not the, I’m afraid to drive by myself, kind of crying, but crying that wouldn’t stop. I just knew that John needed to be in the car with us and NOT ride his motorcycle. Now John was very careful on his motorcycle, and I didn’t doubt his skill at all. Of course, it’s more dangerous than a car, but he never had an accident, so that wasn’t the issue. Soooooo, finally, after much discussion that didn’t make a lot of sense, he unpacked the motorcycle, repacked the car and trailer with the extra items and got behind the wheel and said we would go in the car. I eventually stopped crying and we began our trip from Freeland, Michigan to Virginia. In John’s words, “I didn’t speak to THAT WOMAN until we reached Toledo, Ohio (about 4 hours) – I don’t remember that….but I do like quiet.
After 2 days of travel, with an overnight stay at a campground in Luray, we arrived at a campground near Ft. AP Hill. John helped us put up the tent and then he left to check in with his company at the fort. John Robert and Becky helped me unload the rest of the equipment and then they were free to play. We brought along their bicycles so that they would have something to do for 2 weeks. There was a pool at the campground as well.
So, they set off on their bicycles down the hill. It couldn’t have been longer than a few minutes when I saw a man carrying Becky up the hill to our campsite. She had blood streaming from her chin, and it was all down the front of her shirt. Now I’m the kind of mom who assesses the situation-blood or no blood-and then goes from there. This time there was no doubt as I could see the wound under her chin. The man said that she needed to go to the emergency room as she had fallen off her bike, fell in the sharp gravel and put a hole in the skin under her chin. He said he had just graduated from med school, but was looking for a residency somewhere (how that worked in 1976, I have no idea). Since I didn’t have a car and it was before cell phones, we couldn’t have afforded one even if they were available, so there was no way to contact John at Ft. AP Hill. I asked him if he would take us to an emergency room and then wait and bring us back to the campsite. Now, I had never met him or his wife and I must have asked them their names (to this day I don’t remember what they were) but they must have been angels sent from God just for this purpose.
They took us to the emergency room where Becky was administered several stitches to close the wound and we all made it back to the campsite. Oh yes, the emergency room wouldn’t take my insurance or a check so I had to pay cash which I just happened to have. That money was supposed to last for the rest of our vacation. Try cashing a government check (remember the green ones?) at a bank that isn’t YOUR bank or you weren’t even in your home state. As the couple was leaving, I couldn’t thank them enough for everything they had done for us, so I told them that I would pray for them and their situation. I often wonder what happened to them, but have prayed for them frequently.
When John returned to our campsite at the end of his day, he cheerily asked, “and how was your day?” I just pointed at the tent where Becky lay resting on her cot.
Other than the trip to the emergency room, almost burning down the tent during one of Virginia’s typical thunderstorms and the bug up the leg of my pants, our camping experience was uneventful (?) and we did have a good time.
During the second week of John’s training, he was told that the additional training that was originally planned to occur in New Jersey, would now be held in Texas. Texas!!!! He would be flying from Virginia to Texas and then flown back to Michigan.
Soooo, if he had ridden the motorcycle from Michigan to Virginia, he wouldn’t have been able to ride from Virginia to Texas in time for his next training event and we wouldn’t have had a way to get the motorcycle from Virginia back to Michigan.
God has that still small voice that we frequently miss. Are you listening for Him?