What does God sound like?

What does God sound like?

Ever wondered what God sounds like? I listen to sermons and read books on spiritual growth where the author says “I heard God telling me…”, and I wonder WHAT does God sound like?  Has He got a deep voice? Is it a whisper? Also, how do I know it is Him? Is it a figment of my overactive imagination? Did I dream it? All these questions!

I have spent most of my summer this year inside the arctic circle. It has been an incredible adventure, exploring the natural beauty that is thousands of years in the making. I stood on a glacier where the first snowflake fell nearly 3000 years ago, excavated fossils formed in the Jurassic period and I marvelled at a landscape carved by the wind and ice in Svalbard and Iceland.  I sat in a natural hot spring bubbling at +45 degrees centigrade surrounded by snow capped mountains. I sailed through fjords with icebergs floating past and encountered walls of ice of indescribable beauty for as far as the eye could see! Sidenote: visit Iceland and Svalbard if you can.  During my summer of arctic sailing I picked two books about identity to read, more on that in a minute. Both authors regularly mention how God spoke to them directly, and as their words (His words) sank in, I started thinking about my walk and if I hear could hear Him. So I started a conversation.

I asked questions in my prayers and I waited to hear the answers. I have to be honest and admit I felt contempt for the quote : “Silence is an answer too”. Surely He could just say “no” or “not yet” rather than leave me hanging! A resounding endorsement of spiritual immaturity. Lets call it my terrible twos, seen as it been 2 years since I was saved.  So like a petulant child I declared I couldn’t hear God. I still tried to listen though.  Nothing, Nada. Zilch. Zero! Cue temper tantrum.

As the nautical miles clocked up on the Arctic Ocean , Greenland Sea, Norwegian Sea, North Sea and Denmark Straight I persevered with the reading. Some wise counsel recommend a few books. I selected two as I was searching for the reconnect with my identity in Christ after my childish display. The words from Destined to Win and Without Rival directed me towards scripture and re-educated me on some lessons I forgot and taught me some new things too! I really do recommend both.  It helped that I had no phone signal. Being off the grid is one of the things I love about sailing.  Actually living in the moment, appreciating where I am.  Of course there are pockets of signal to get back onto the grid, but for the most part (whilst at sea) I was without any kind of digital presence.

Not having signal is great when it comes to devotional time. No signal = no distractions. Ever found during a reading or prayer you get distracted by that vibration or ping? I know I do. So not having that was great, it allowed me to focus, to  think, to digest.  But what does all of this pre-amble have to do with hearing God?

Well, I found that when I focused, I kept my train of thought, I  fully ingested the words of my bible and reading material. I got closer to Him. So, now when I set time aside for devotion, I activate the ‘do not disturb’ function on all devices!  

Quality time without notifications.
Tip: Activate your “Do not Disturb” if you are distracted easily too.

I’m sure you are familiar with the story of creation in Genesis, and Psalms 95 reiterates the mountains are His.  I was reminded I could hear Him every time I went on watch.  I only had to use my eyes! What a revelation that was. Right now, stop, look around you and hear the wonder of  His voice in your surroundings. This is not conventional hearing, but it is hearing.

Psalms 95:4-5
In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

I was surrounded by such infinite beauty, it was deafening, and I was desensitised.  It literally surrounded me and until I tuned into the right frequency; the word – I couldn’t appreciate it for what it was.  His voice.

I cannot stress how important daily devotional time has been to  my growth. Every christian has to spend time in the word, daily! Hebrews 12 speaks volumes! Spending time in the word will open all your senses to hear! I have so much more to share with you, but for now thanks for stopping by. 

Subscribe if you want to hear more about my walk. What does God sound like to you? Comment below, I would love to hear how He speaks to you.

Share in the comments section below how you hear His voice. How He speaks to you.
Please share in the comments section below what He sounds like to you.

Grace

Grace

The church I attend has just finished running the Grace Course. I have been unable to attend any of the weekly sessions due to work commitments. I did however make it to the testimony celebration earlier this week.

It was humbling to listen to people share their demons and insecurities. It was also interesting to hear how common the enemy toolbox is. Shame. Isolation. Anger. Self-loathing. Guilt. Depression. Resentment. And on and on it goes.

It was also amusing to listen to how people initially approached the course. Their reasoning and expectations were just that, theirs, and by their own admission the Holy Spirit showed up and His intention and reasoning was revealed. His plan, the bigger picture, it might not make sense what has happened or is happening now but it will. Trust in Him, have faith.

We have all heard Amazing Grace‘ but what is grace? Simply put (I think): Divine Help. I believe that His grace is a blessing and as stated by some fellow believers “…grace makes the impossible, possible”. This help saves, it heals, it forgives, it comforts, it strengthens, it guides, it does whatever you need it to do. That is pretty powerful stuff!

These attitudes of gratitude are empowering. I could not help feeling joy for the people who shared their testimonies. It got me thinking and typing. Shifting your focus from the lies of the enemy to the love surrounding you is when you need His grace. Without it, the darkness is consuming. Asking for help is difficult, I know. I find it difficult to talk to people, I guess that is why I am on here!

I KNOW that there are people ready to listen, to offer advice/support, to pray for me, with me and still I push them away. Retreating inwards into isolation when I battle my own demons and insecurities. Do you feel that way too?

I’m positive you have people in your life too who are ready willing and able to help you too. Think really hard if you just disagreed with me! Thing is if you are anything like me, you will have built a sky-high fortress around you with no visible exits. So how do we, you and I, ask for help?

How do we free ourselves from this mighty stronghold? It is impossible! Right? Wrong! This is where grace comes in. God is available 24/7, everywhere and anywhere. Talk to Him. How He answers our prayers is infinitely different. It could be a friend reaching out, you reaching out, a sermon, maybe a testimony, a blog post or it might even be Him talking to you directly! Ask and listen – Just don’t miss it.

Each testimony closed with the following declaration over them: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

I declare Psalms 136 v 1 over your life and mine. I welcome your grace stories and thoughts. Let’s live the impossible through His amazing grace and give thanks! I am off to have a natter …

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Reflections

The last 12 months have been a roller-coaster mentally,  physically and emotionally. I suspect though, that every year is when we pause to reflect. So much has happened and it’s the unexpected curve balls that have brought about moments of sheer joy and laughter, tears of happiness and new friends.

According to the plan I should be back home, preparing to head to the Mediterranean. However, I am still at sailing school on the Isle of Wight waiting to sit my exam. Pass or fail I just want it over now. A freak fracture has held me back but longer than my crew and colleagues who all passed their yachtmaster offshore exam. Congratulations guys!

I have my exam scheduled for mid March, so fingers crossed and toes and anything else that will cross really! I am as ready as I am going to be though. Update you all soon!

“The best laid plans… “

Divine comedy

Divine comedy

Dante I am not, but i do like Divina Commedia.  This is not a critique of his epic work, but the title is in homage to his work.  I think God has a sense of humour, usually at my expense, but a funny one none-the-less. He uses it to nudge, ok push, ok ok shove me in the right direction at times, and with hind-sight I usually see the funny side too. You don’t have to read the other blog posts to understand this one, but if you are following my walk, it might help. 

 So I made it south into the Shire*, you see I willingly jumped in the car and reluctantly drove +300 miles at 3am. My heart was calm but my mind raced around in circles of “do I or don’t I?” The questions: Do I explain myself in full? Do I need to? Now you should know I searched the internet to the best of my ability to find a flight, train, even a bus for my mum – all to no avail. Humour failure No.1 
After decades (no exaggeration) a family was reunited inside a Travelodge reception area. And, it was happy! I was surprised by that emotion – given history and the reason we were there, but, I cannot tell you how much it meant to see their faces after so long. There was still trepidation within me, explanations and apologies were looming. Reality was not suspended just because I was glad to see them. Humour failure No. 2
The six of us spoke over each other catching up on snippets of this, that and everything. But the time ticked on and actually because I was cheap and only paid for an hour of parking, we headed off to the hospital. The reason I had been awake for 10 hours already drew near. Apprehension joined the party. I got a much needed caffeine boost thanks to my uncle but the spot it needed to reach was unreachable. Humour failure No. 3.

As footfall increased through the main door at the hospital it was clear visiting hours had begun. Tears silently rolled down my face. There just seemed to be an unsurmountable mountain of history to climb over to get to where I want to be [baptism]. Again the questions started, mostly in my head, but a very special lady spoke to me and told me whatever has happened in the past is irrelevant now, because all that matters is that I am here to do the right thing. Then a special man gave me a ‘Dad’ hug and prayed for me. Inviting the holy spirit to take over was the only choice I ever had in all that was happening because I was never going to be able to go it alone. There was a change and calmness, resolve to do the right thing and courage to carry it through. And for the record I did. 

When faced with any adversity, christian or not I’m willing to (bet) guess most people question God. Also, when faced with inexplicable/heartbreaking pending loss, christian or not we ask God for just one miracle and promise the world in return, oddly enough not our souls (I Digress -talking point for another time perhaps (?)). I think when God enters the equation, the logic is instantaneously removed. Why? Because ……you are acknowledging God has a plan and you don’t like it! Isn’t that Divine Comedy?

 Remember these are my ramblings…I also think that because His plans are not in alignment with our own plans, at times that we suffer these sense of humour failures and resent Him. Thus it feels like Inferno [Dante]. The enemy has a job to do, so the wee nudge in the right direction [when you knew it was the right thing to do in the first instance] that happens to make the creator laugh, is for the greater good in your life. 

This infinite equation only becomes an absolute when a constant is added. Faith. Faith lets us trust in Him and His plan. You need to have faith to take that leap into the unknown, like so many people of note in the bible did. It gives you the bravery required to do so. And when you do, He will guide you. Worth noting here that when you give-in/accept, wether it be reluctantly or willingly you slowly start to see that all the hurdles you faced slowly dissipate. I am not saying it will be easy, but ultimately you will His message in your own journey. My journey thus far has shown that unconditional love can broker peace here on earth. His love can give you everlasting peace.

*Shire – colloquialism for England in my own made up dictionary of meanings. It is meant as an endearing term and by no means an insult to England, her citizens or residents. Reminds me of Tolkien and that is a compliment.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

What was the beginning…

What was the beginning…

MMXIV is the year,  2014 if you prefer cardinal numbers. I personally prefer roman numerals, you might have figured that out from the blog title, but, that is a a blog for another time. It was actually my birthday and i was in the gym after work when my phone rang.  I am born in January and succumbed to the get-fit and healthy endemic a new year inevitably brings and felt particularly pleased I just completed another day at the gym without collapsing !

Mum was calling to let me know how Dad got on at the doctor.  He hadnt recovered as expected after the kiney cancer surgery (November 2013) and I never even entertained for a second what came next.  The specialist had given  him an affirming talk on how well the surgery had gone.  How we  expected to move forward to the monitoring list and how he could look forward to getting back to work after recovery.  I was there for the whole speech of encouragement. It was positive, the prognosis was we caught it in time and beat cancer!

Anyway; my mum was at the end of the line and she told me that Dad had pancreatic cancer and it was terminal. I dont actually remember much else of what she said because I was concentrating so hard on not breaking down. As soon as the call ended i did collapse and a sound of anguish resonated form me and then the tears started.  People stopped to ask what was wrong but no words would form. i couldnt even wave them away in my collapsed state.  My friend CJ was with me, and I still can’t thank her enough for everything she did for me that evening.

Despite her protests and concerns I got showered and drove myself to the hospital as Dad was admitted.  The waterworks started as soon as I laid eyes on him. Somehow he was older, weaker, more tired looking than I had ever seen him and yet he was the one consolling me!  I thought normality and routine would help get through this so I continued to go to work every day. I worked for as long as he was in hospital. After two weeks he came home.

I would like to apologise to my colleagues at the time for not taking their advice sooner.  And, I thank them for being so understanding and forgiving.  I did take their advice, only after accepting that his condition was terminal and deteriorating fast. I wasted two weeks at work, stressing myself and colleagues out when I should have been at home with my parents.  I still smile when I think about the chats I had with my Dad when he was lucid.  The medication dulled him and his vitality and I now understand why patients dont want to take their medication.  I should also apologise to my mum, I wasnt there for her the way she needed me to be. I am genuinelly sorry Mum.

When He did come home, I did too – helping my Mum care for him.  We were actually a pretty great team.  I discovered a new side to my Dad, friends I never knew of and a realisation that somewhere over the years he found his faith again.  I knew my mum went to church but I didn’t know that my Dad had started going again. It was surprising. It was oddly comforting. But, most of all it highlighted to me how far I had pushed myself away from my family. I was a self professed work-a-holic who was also an athiest and stayed as far away from church as I could!

XXV February MMXIV is forever etched in my heart becuase that was the day my Dad was taken away. The gentle, caring, peace-keeping, honest, stern, teasing, hard-working, infuriating, stubborn, funny and most loving man I have ever known was gone.  And so began this new chapter in my story.

The four weeks from his diagnosis to his death, has taught me the following:

  1. Time is precious
  2. Life  is for living not exsisting
  3. Work does not define you, family does
  4. Death brings life
  5. I am loved

Pancreatic cancer is a silent killer, more often than not diagnosis comes to late for successful treatment.  The reseach is not as well funded as breast or testicular, or even kidney cancer.  I cannot thank CLAN and Mcmilliam enough for their support an advice and services, they are truly amazing organisations.  This Silent killer is very difficult to detect and I hope that if it affects your family you have the support, and love of friends and family just like my mum and I did.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Finally…

Psalm 119:50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.