The Night I First Heard Him

The crisp air danced through leaves that would soon turn vibrant. Our winding lake country road was uncommonly bright and I stretched my neck searching for the source. Ah, there it was, the Fall Harvest Moon was upon us.

I was 16. And this night was altogether common. Me driving the 13 miles home after a high school sporting event. My younger brother in tow.

Why, he was the first one to spot it. And I quickly looked up the steep hill beside us to see it for myself: A grand buck deer being chased by something much smaller. Sleeker. As I was trying to recall if we had cougars in our region, the buck decided to change its course.

Anyone can figure out how a battle between a 13 point buck and a ’87 Chevy Sprint will turn out. Still I tried to defy the odds. I downshifted and tried to get under the buck jumping. Hoping he would clear our 3-cylinder car. It was a good thought and would have been brilliant if it had worked.

The hood flew up, causing the deer to spin onto the roof. His hind legs, grasping for footing, broke through my driver-side window. Bristly fur grazed my nose as his hoof made contact with my brother beside me.

If I were sharing this story with you in person, this would be the moment I would lighten things up by offering to be a spokesperson for anti-lock breaks. Because we had none. And I do see how they would have prevented us from rolling down the embankment ahead.

Yet that’s what got the deer out.

There we hung by our nylon straps as I took assessment of our situation. My 12 year-old brother doing everything he could to assure me he was okay despite the red droplets proving otherwise.

Nearly two decades later and I still cannot tell you how we got out of the car.

After tying my brother’s t-shirt around his head as tightly as I could, I took on my only option: running the final miles home for help.

The dirt road was like beach sand beneath my feet, making it hard to run fast. And I wondered why I had never noticed that before. I yelled back encouragement to my brother between pants of air and my prayers as I still wasn’t sure what was chasing that deer. Oh how I prayed.

For I cried out to him for help, praising Him as I spoke.
Psalm 66:17

It was around my 3rd plea, my first time acknowledging with praise, that I heard Him.

Don’t worry, my child. You’ll make it.
So will he. I have more work for you to do.

The fall air began to burn my lungs around the second bend. My knees grew week with fear or pain I wasn’t quite sure. Yet with each pound of my Eastland shoe, I heard Him. Urging me to keep going. Telling me I was doing great. Assuring me my brother was just behind and doing fine.

Long before I would have started, before the end of our drive was even in view, before I could see any light coming from the vicinity of our house, He told me to yell for my mother. Clear as day, He told me to yell for her. Quickly.

I listened and obeyed.
She responded.

I was 16 when I discovered His voice and the power of prayer. No one can tell me otherwise. For I’ve spoken with Him plenty since.

Years later, after marriage had found me a Pastor’s wife, girls from our youth group asked me what God sounds like. How they will know when they hear Him. I told them then and would tell you the same thing today:

When you seek Him with your whole heart, when you let go of yourself and let Him in, you’ll hear Him. Sometimes you’ll hear Him from within. A whisper that warms your heart while tingling the nape of your neck. And sometimes you’ll hear Him through a friend or while reading His Word or through any activity Spirit-led. Sometimes it will take time to know you’ve heard Him. You might not realize it until hindsight.

Regardless, He’s promised. He’s always there. Always listening. Always responding in one form or another.

Because He’s a God of relationships.
And He wants nothing more than to have heart-to-heart conversations with you.

That night changed my prayer life. It went from being formality to a communion I longed for. He became personal.

Friends, please know it doesn’t take a near-death experience to hear Him. That’s simply the first time I had made room for Him…

How about you? Do you remember hearing His voice for the first time? How does He speak to you now? How do you speak to Him? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Those persons who know the deep peace of God,
the unfathomable peace that passeth all understanding,
are always men and women of much prayer.~ R. A. Torrey

NOTE: This is a part of my series on Prayer. To see other posts in this series, CLICK HERE.

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46 thoughts on “The Night I First Heard Him

  1. Wow, Nikki your story took my breath away! How thankful I am that you and your brother both survived and how blessed we are that you met God in a personal way that night and He is using you to teach us how to draw close to Him. He really wants an intimate, close up and personal relationship with each of us and we are the ones who keep our distance sometimes. Blessings to you always!
    Joy

    • I am so grateful, Joy. This story could have ended so many different ways. To God be the glory is all I’ve been able to say about it for years! It was a hard one to write…It’s one thing having an intimate relationship with our Redeemer and another thing entirely sharing glimpses of it with the world wide web! You make it so much easier, friend. Thank you!

  2. This is a big WOW girl!! Amazing story. So glad you shared. And so glad you are happily here to share your gift of writing and encouragement. Thanks for letting us hear your powerful story and for writing on prayer, Can’t wait to follow the series.

    • Thank you, Elizabeth! So blessed by you. I had no idea how hard it would be to share on prayer if I’m being honest. It’s taking me writing about it to realize how intimate it really is for me…. Oh how He loves us. Not only loves us, but aches to chat with us. . .

  3. My heart is pounding! What a great testimony. This first time I really heard God was in the midst of an awful time in my life…lots of struggles, and choices, and ugliness. I remember writing a prayer to him and just sobbing…and then hearing him tell me how he is making me stronger, teaching me, and changing my heart – which hurts. I knew that he was with me and ever since, I have been pursuing him with reckless abandon!

    • Oh, I hope you still have that prayer, Deanna! So you can look back on it years down the line and see how far He’s carried you…What grace. I’m guessing we’re a lot alike, friend. I’m guessing you’re a bit like me and try to tackle things on your own. For I have found myself flat on the floor pleading for comfort…and have seen what He is capable of. I’m with you — pursuing with reckless abandon (love that!) So grateful to be on this journey with you!! Thank you so much for sharing with me…To God be the glory.

  4. What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing. I know it doesn’t take life and death to hear him. I have heard him, too, and you are right. Seek him with all your heart. Oh, but how do we really explain this to people? You have done it so well, friend. The desperation you described is what we must feel day in and day out. Hunger and thirst for righteousness, don’t just snack on it!

    • Thank you so much, Tereasa!
      And for the record…girl…you have permission and then some to post your URL here. For I know my readers would be blessed by clicking on your avatar/name. I’ve added it for you here today in the hopes they do ; )

      Now…I LOVE how you put that! Hunger and thirst, don’t just snack on it — YES!

      May we long to be near to Him every day. Oh how He pursues us. I’m striving with you to follow suit.

      Hugs to you, friend! So thankful you stopped by.

  5. Nikki, we haven’t met when you’ve been home to Riverview but I love your folks and Brent, Sarah & kids! So glad your mom shared this blog post on FB! Thanks for sharing! Blessings!

    • I had to think a bit, Tracy, to realize we probably haven’t met for I feel like I know you! So glad my mom has connected us this way. Thank you for stopping by and reading my ramblings. Oh how He loves and pursues us — wouldn’t you say?
      To God be the glory…
      Please, come back again sometime! 🙂

  6. Your story is dramatic, but I love how you used it to illustrate that we will hear God speak when we are desperate for Him. So glad to have found you today through Duane’s Promises. You described hearing God’s voice so well to your itching young church girls. I think they will get it. So grateful for his work in your life, then and now. What a mighty God we serve.

    • That’s the key, isn’t it, Dawn…being desperate for Him. I learned it that day and have practiced and seen it since. Oh how He pursues us. Praying those girls see that, too…

      Thank you for stopping by, Dawn!

  7. Wow! What an awesome testimony!

    I have heard God’s voice once…very clearly and very distinctly in a dream. It was right at the moment when an answer to a new direction in my life was “playing”. I immediately woke up and changed where my life was headed. I haven’t looked back. 🙂

    • Oh, I LOVE That, Mindy! And isn’t that the way…when we listen to Him and heed His council, there’s no reason to look back. To God be the glory…

      So thankful you stopped by today and shared with me! Thank you!

    • Oh what a day that will be, Dusty. I’m with you in the longing…and am convinced there will be no greater phrase uttered than Welcome Home….

      So thrilled to have met you today. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. My heart is STILL pounding from your story, Nikki! I’m relieved it had a happy ending, and it’s thrilling to know how the Lord used that to speak to you.

    Your post reminded me of something I tweeted this morning from today’s Jesus Calling devo: When you set out to find Me, you’ll discover that the world is vibrantly alive with My Presence. But to hear His voice, we have to stay in His Word, be still and listen.

    Thanks for the powerful story, and thanks for linking up with me today!

    • Oh my…how did I miss that tweet. So glad you shared it with me here again, Susan. Thank you! Oh how He pursues us! Striving to follow suit…

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing with me today!

  9. i remember the phone call we received telling us of the accident. it was homecoming night, wasn’t it? your post brought back all the emotions of that night. it could have ended so much worse. couldn’t be more thankful for the way things turned out.

    i don’t recall the first time i heard Him…i wish i did. but one of the most loudest times i’ve heard Him speak came through a bumper sticker. it was during a time of a lot of wrong turns in my life. as i was driving around, going nowhere (figuratively and in reality), i just kept asking, “what do i do?” and i saw it: let go and let God. it changed the course of my life. also a couple of years ago i read the book “walking with God” by john eldredge in which he speaks a lot about listening to God. reading that book has changed my prayer life dramatically and has helped me discern better the difference between hearing Him and hearing what i want to hear. 🙂

    • I have never considered what that phone call would have been like, Ginger. So glad I’ve never experienced it…and I’m not sure…it might have been homecoming week? It wasn’t a Friday, I know that.

      Thank you for reminding me of that book and I LOVE how God used a bumper sticker to yell at you! 😉 Believe me…He’s used stranger things on me. You bring up a very good point I plan on talking about soon…listening. for His will, not our wishes. Thank you so much!

  10. I remember holding you the first time when you were only a few weeks old(ask your mom)… what an incredible woman you have become.

    I will share my story. Being raised in a church, with what I would call a firm foundation and having gone to Bible camp throughout my youth gave me a comfortable relationship with God; but it became really personal when I became pregnant in college. I attended a church retreat/conference with my mom, and I went forward and the leader prayed for my and my unborn child…. a child that I was placing for adoption. I have never felt more at peace than during that time as God spoke to me and gave me comfort, he was always with me. He let me know I was making the right choice for everyone involved and that he would always be with me and my child.

    He is still there holding me in life as a child and I am grateful.
    Bless you Nikki

    Jolynn

    • I’m so thrilled you stopped by, Jolynn! And am honored you would share your story with me. Oh how He loves us. Not only that, He pursues us. I’ve learned in my “young” years that when we show up, He does, too. Funny thing is, He was always there to begin with. Love how He carried you through that time, Jolynn. And can see Him smiling at you for a job well done.

      Love your thought “He is still there holding me in life as a child and I am grateful.” I’m taking that with me, Jolynn. Thank you.

      All for Him with hugs to you,
      Nikki

  11. Amazing. Crying tears of joy that we have a heavenly Father that not only hears us but speaks to us! My daughter was in a car accident this summer that could have taken her life yet God spared her…..and spared me the heartache of losing a child. Those weeks spent in the hospital were filled with prayers and seeing God’s many blessings. Every morning He met me in the hospital gardens and I felt his presence. I’m so glad that you shared your story and your faith. God bless you!

    • Oh it hurts my heart to know you can relate to this so well, Laurie. And yet rejoicing with you that God is soooo good. All the time. So grateful your daughter is recovering! And am praying you can continue your meetings with Him in the mornings…as I’m certain He adored your dates. : )

      So thrilled you stopped by, friend. Thank you for sharing with me!

  12. Amazing story both for the way you told it and how God became personal that day. I can’t remember the first time I hear God’s voice, it’s alway been a whisper in my heart. But I pray, even if it takes a life threatening accident, that my girls will learn to hear him too. I wonder if your mother ever prayed such a prayer? How did you brother react to the accident? Thought I would stop by for something more than a 5-minute writing!

    • I should ask my mom if she has ever prayed that, Laura. That is tough love you are showing right there, friend. Praying that for your girls. Wow. Yet, every child is worth that prayer… My brother was amazing. Quoting movie lines initially, joking around to help me not lose it. and even though he didn’t want me to leave him at the scene, He was so brave and handled his injuries so well. So proud of him. Still am. After getting kicked by a deer in the head (near his temple) he was only in the hospital overnight and suffered only minor injuries all things considered. Praise God. Praise God.

      Made my day that you stopped by mid-week! Thank you!!

  13. Wow…that’s a great testimony for sure! I think it’d be a long post to share clearly how God first began to share His presence. But suffice it to say for now…my birthfather was in prison, and I was raised by a single mom on foodstamps and donations……I was yearning for a new identity. 🙂 God gave one. Thanks for sharing…and reminding. 🙂

    • Amazing how God graces us each with a unique testimony, isn’t it? We all have our own story worth sharing. Would love to hear how God grabbed ahold of you sometime. I don’t feel like I’ve even scratched the surface of here, but have merely shared the first time I felt He started to pursue me. For my teenage selfishness had placed Him on a back burner. Still, it took years for me to see clearly. But I plan on sharing all that another time 😉

  14. Thanks for sharing this story! It’s through the stories of other’s that we learn more about His grace. And what a wonderful testimony of His faithfulness in your life! It has been a long road for me to learn to hear His voice. I’ve had to learn to tune out all the other distractions, for they are many. And to put aside my own agenda and plans. It’s then that I hear and feel His presence. Beautiful as always!

    • Oh, Christina. I’m not even sure I’ve fully learned how to put aside my own agenda and plans yet. I’m certain you’re lightyears ahead of me. Yet He continues to pursue me. What grace! Looking forward to the day we can share a table and share our journeys together, friend!

  15. Oh my girl – deers and dark nights on lonely roads scare me to death just for this reason. I’m so thankful God wasn’t finished with you. I’m so thankful He protected and healed you both. But mostly thankful that you Heard His voice. That’s such a precious moment when you first hear. It does change you. Love how you share your story. Keep sharing — I want to hear.

    BTW – how did I miss you were a Pastor’s wife??? Saying a prayer for you.

  16. I am overwhelmed with emotion tonight. Having the opportunity, the privilege to commune with our Creator in such an intimate and very real way at the age of 16 had to have been transformational.

    You were set apart Nikki. It’s so obvious in your writing that you were designed in a very special way. I want to say I can’t imagine how you remained cool as you began the trek home with baby brother in tow but that’s silly, of course I know how. The voice of the Lord guided you. Your ears heard Him and you responded. His wings covered you. I bet your heart sensed it and you found the courage to continue to move forward. His strength kept you. Clearly He kept you. I am so grateful for you and for how this story ended. Through your words and your testimony I am blessed.

    • I’ll never forget it, Diana. And I have 2 other instances I’ll not forget as well. Oh how He pursued me. Still does. Oh how He loves me. Always will. More than I can fathom and I don’t ever want to stop trying to.

      One would think that moment right there would have caused an instant change in me. I wish it were so. I wish I didn’t have to confess my thick skulled nature…But it impacted me and started pointing me in the right direction. I remember being embarrassed telling my best friend about it. and will never forget what they said “doesn’t surprise me one bit. He loves you. Of course He has His hand on you. and I don’t blame Him one bit…”

      I ramble. I just love talking about it 🙂 (secret? I wrote this post months ago. it was well over 1800 words long. took me nearly 6 months of prayer to whittle it down to this post. so much more I could have shared, but He tells me this is enough…)

  17. I got teary reading this thinking of you, and your brother…so grateful He spoke to you, and you heard and obeyed…and ever so thankful He saw fit to connect us together as friends through our blogs and prayer…and you made a key point…we must make room to hear Him…love and hugs, Nikki 🙂

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