Okay, so…I have thought a long time about the next two articles that I am writing for this blog. I don’t want to appear mystical or make you think that my faith is a little weird, but I feel strongly that I need to share these topics with you. For the past two years I have been totally transparent, and I promise that is how it is now. Today’s blog is entitled, “When God Speaks.” The next one that I will post is entitled, “When God is Silent,” and will outline a very difficult time that I had a few days after Keith died.
There have been 5 distinct times in my life where I felt God was speaking directly to me. His voice, while not directly audible to the human ear, was absolutely audible to my heart and I really believe just below human earshot. I am not talking about those times when I have felt led by God, or encouraged through scripture. No, what I am talking about today is a true one on one, God talking to me specifically about something specific.
In my first 51 years of life, it happened to me twice. The first time was in 1979, when I was in the 3rd floor study room of Smith dorm at Samford. I had really been studying and seeking God about my future and the decisions that were ahead of me. I had just come out of a relationship, and was not looking to get into another any time soon. It was during that time of intense praying and seeking God that God told me that I was going to marry Keith Martin. It was really odd to me, as I hadn’t seen Keith all semester. We were friends, but that was it. I found out later that he had been student teaching that semester which was why I hadn’t seen him.
So, here I am in the middle of the night in Smith study room, and God says to me… “You are going to marry Keith Martin.” I chuckled, as it seemed like such a random thing at the time. The next day, however, I was in the student center and turned to find myself face to face with Keith (who I hadn’t seen all semester), and he said, “Hey, you have been on my mind recently and I was wondering what you are doing Friday night?” All I could do was say… “Oh, my!” Then I finally regained my composure enough to accept his dinner date, and the rest, as they say, is history. It was the beginning of a beautiful love story!
The second time God spoke to me was in 1994, and it was during a time I was praying for some dear friends who were really going through some struggles. At that time the song “God Will Make a Way” by Don Moen was very popular. God’s word to me at that time was, “I am working in Paul and Mariann’s life in ways you can’t see, and I am planning big things for them.” At the time they were struggling so much, but were so faithful to God. As Paul graduated from Fuller Seminary this year and became a Senior Pastor, I had such a sense that the prophecy from 1994 had been fulfilled.
The last three times that God has spoken directly to me have happened in the past two years, since Keith became sick. I would like to say that I was walking more closely with God than ever, and that’s why it happened, but I really believe that it happened because this was the greatest storm I had ever faced. And He promised He would be there through the storms.
Keith was admitted to the hospital on July 17, 2009. On Sunday afternoon, July 19, at 3:15 pm, I heard God speak again. Keith was asleep, and the room was quiet. We had no idea at the time what kind of cancer Keith had, but they assumed it was Lymphoma. At 3:15 pm, I heard God say, “He is going to come through this, but it will be a very long, very difficult journey.” I guess I interpreted “going to come through this” as meaning “healed,” but I know now that the message was more about the journey than the coming through it. At each point over the past two years that I would feel completely overwhelmed, I would remember that encounter, and I would know that God could see the big picture.
In March of this year, after a conversation with Dr. Einhorn (his Indiana doctor) about the fact that the cancer had returned yet again, Keith came home to say that Dr. Einhorn had told him that he probably only had 2 years to live. That news was completely devastating to me, and I stayed curled up in a fetal position for 2 days. It was during that time that my next encounter happened. I was pleading with God…begging Him to heal Keith, and I heard God say, “That man has no idea when Keith is going to die.” It stopped me cold in my tracks. “What does that mean?” I asked. But there was nothing more. No further explanation. Of course I hoped it meant Keith would live another 10 or 20 years, but I think I knew that God was sending us a message to get ready for whatever was around the corner. And that is exactly what we did. That message from God made me realize that in no way did I have any control over Keith’s situation. God was moving and He had a plan.
The last time (to this point) that God spoke was in May of this year. Again, I was praying for healing, and I asked God, “Is Keith going to die from this?” I heard God say, “He is not dead yet.” Again I asked, “What does that mean? Are you going to heal him?” But there was no answer. The profound meaning of that simple statement changed my life, though, as I realized I had let the fear of Keith dying rob me of the days that we had left together. After that I made sure we laughed and cried and talked. I asked him questions about things he wanted me to do and made sure he had time with our children. It completely changed the way I looked at what was to be our last days together, and I am so thankful that we had those.
So, I have use a lot of words today to come to this one simple point. God loves you. He wants to communicate with you. His communication is very intimate and personal. He may not speak to you in the same way that he does to me, but he will communicate with you.
In the weeks since Keith died, God’s presence has been very real to me. I don’t know how to explain it, but if you have ever experienced it, you know what I am talking about. I know he is actively involved in my life and I am so thankful. Every day I see new ways that he is at work. I may not be getting the audible messages as often, but right now I don’t have to have them.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
God is speaking…take time to listen!
Blessings, my friends!