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.
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.
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.
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.