Again I am up early in the morning. I’m sitting on my couch staring outside my window. My view is filled with more trees than I ever thought I’d live around. Me living in the “country” is not what I would have expected. At least not in my younger years. But here I am. Beautifully surrounded by trees, deer at times, and the sound of what sounds like a thousand bugs. And it’s the most at peace I’ve ever been. Sometimes the road we have ourselves on, and believe me I did not live on this road in my head, is not the one we should be traveling.
If you read last weeks blog, “Is anxiety keeping you for God?” you read how for years I suffered from high functioning anxiety. I didn’t know it. It all seemed so natural to me. I also discussed last week a couple of reasons why my anxiety felt so normal. Why yours might too. If you didn’t read it, I’d suggest going back and reading it before continuing here.
Today however I want to look at two people in the Bible who were on one road, a certain path, and their lives were completely turned around after a genuine moment with God. But first a quick look at how anxiety could keep us from noticing a true encounter with God.
If you suffer from anxiety, you know how jumbled up it can make your mind. Somedays you can focus, and other days you don’t know which way is up. So many thoughts are racing through your head. Never a moment to work through them, to get to anything that makes sense. On those days it’s almost impossible to quiet your mind. Lies become truth, and making you see any differently takes a miracle. If God were to try to speak to you on those days, would you hear Him? Is a one track mind of worry keeping you from hearing, “Do not fear” “I am your God” “I know where I am taking you” and other words from God? And if God tried to reach you in a way that’s not “standard”, would you believe it was truly Him? Or would you dismiss it because your mind seems to always be playing tricks on you?
Let’s start with Saul.
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
I have always loved this. Damascus Road moments are priceless. That moment where God becomes very real to someone. Now Sauls story may be nothing like yours. You aren’t going off to persecute believers. You don’t have evil or murderous thoughts against others. At least I hope not. But you do have your own reasons for needing that real moment with God. Now Sauls story goes on and he becomes blind and has to go find a man who is praying and gets his sight back. That’s a sure fire way in my book to know it’s not all in my mind.
For most of us however, we probably won’t have that happen. We probably won’t lose our sight and then go on a journey to find a man praying. We could. With God all things are possible. But we probably won’t. So could we be brushing off encounters with God simply because we aren’t believing in them? We chalk them up to coincidence. Or even worse that our mind is playing tricks on us again. We can’t trust our mind so how could we trust that moment? Is it possible that you have had a Damascus Road moment and don’t know it?
This would be a great place to stop and think for a moment. Ask God to show you again what you might have missed the first time.
Then there is the talking donkey. And no, not this one.
“And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his donkey and his two servants were with him. 23 And the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the donkey to turn her into the way. 24 But the angel of the Lord stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. 25 And when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall: and he smote her again. 26 And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. 27 And when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the donkey with a staff. 28 And the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? 29 And Balaam said unto the donkey, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. 30 And the donkey said unto Balaam, Am not I thine donkey, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay. 31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. 32 And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: 33 And the donkey saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive. 34 And Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again. 35 And the angel of the Lord said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.
I don’t know about you, but if my message from God partly had to do with a talking donkey, I would surely believe I was losing my mind. No way it was real. Truth be told though, a lot of us can’t believe that God is talking to us. Here are a few reasons why. Some beliefs that keep us from believing.
1. I am not worthy
2. I don’t matter
3. Someone else is more important. He would talk to them instead
4. I don’t have anything to offer God
5. I’m a nobody. Why would God talk to me?
6. After all I’ve done! No way God has anything for me except contempt.
7. Even if He did talk to me it’s not like it would be life changing. I’m stuck where I am forever.
8. Nothing good ever happens to me anyway.
The list can go on and on.
Maybe here you get real with yourself and God about your thoughts and how they could be keeping you from hearing from Him.
I’m sure I’ve personally had more than one Damascus Road moment. I’ve gotten off path a few too many times. But the one that I can really point to came to me in a dream. This dream happened at a very difficult time in my life. Anxiety had completely taken over my mind. My life. I believe God knew the best time to get to me was when my mind was at rest. It wasn’t awake to get in the the way of the message He had for me. I still today, 5 years later, point to that dream as my turning point. The point at which I completely let God in and together we started kicking my anxiety out.
It’s my hope and prayer daily that people who are ready to have that moment with God, have it. That nothing stands in their way. Not fear. Not depression. Not anxiety. Not low self worth. Not the lies of the enemy. Nothing!
But don’t wait for a talking donkey or bright light to hear from God.
One thing I want us to be careful about. I don’t want us only looking for God in big ways. God speaks in many ways, a lot of them in a still small voice.
1 Kings 19 “11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?”
If we only look for God is big ways we might just miss Him. Listen for Him in the quiet places.
That’s why noticing our anxiety is so crucial. We must first understand that our mind is cluttered. Is too loud. Then we can begin working with God to quiet it. Then it becomes easier to Hear Him.
I can promise you that just as God speaks to me, He speaks to you too. And don’t worry that you’ve missed Him. For we serve and are loved by a prodigal God. He always is waiting for us. He is always waiting and ready for you.
My life road has drastically changed. Where I saw myself going, is not where I have landed. But after God spoke to me, I then completely surrendered my life to Him. I may not know where my current path leads, but I can say I know the One who is leading it. And though I have to be on top of my anxiety daily, with God it’s a battle I can win! Not without some slip ups. But God is always there to catch me. He is there to catch you too.
Are you ready? Ready to get real with God so then He can in return get real with you? It’s then God can become more real to you. You can start seeing Him everywhere. Daily knowing that He is with you. No matter what your mind might try to tell you that day.