I had an interesting conversation with God the other day. No, not a prayer. I have conversations – you know, the kind where I say something, He says something, I say something…
People often give me a funny look when I say God talks to me, as if they expect me to start waving a sign saying stuff like “Prepare to meet thy Doom!” or something. Nah. The folks at my small church gave me that look when I first joined them, but since I’m a cheerful sort and often have humorous conversations with God that I remark on, they’ve relaxed.
I’ve had these conversations for as long as I can remember. My parents, bless their hearts, just nodded and said stuff like, “How interesting.” They were used to my storytelling, which started about the same time, and they might have thought that was just another story. But it’s not fiction to me. To me, God’s voice is as real as my mother’s, more trustworthy than anybody I know, and I never have to ask Him to speak up, stop mumbling, or clarify whether something He said was sarcasm or a joke.
A little girl, hearing me say God told me something, asked what God sounded like. “Ever had a friend stand behind you and say something over your shoulder?” I asked her. “He sounds just like that. You don’t see Him, but you can hear him clearly. You know His voice because you hear Him all the time. That’s what He sounds like.”
Some people say God speaks to them through the Bible, others say they have visions. That happens to me, too, but I also get the audio version, which is better for me, since I can ask questions and get immediate answers. I don’t always LIKE the answers, and sometimes He tells me my brain doesn’t have the words to understand the answer. Like calculus, I guess. I still don’t get that, either. Algebra barely got through.
The conversation I had the other day was fairly typical. He’s never really been able to get me to learn two things: self discipline and patience. Especially patience. Ever heard that old joke? “Give me patience, NOW!” That’s me. My sister and I were cleaning all the Christmas decorations out of the house and putting them back into storage for another year. We got the storage bins out of the storage building outside, filled them up, opened the door to take them back to the storage, and discovered a downpour occurring.
“Come on, God, give us a break!” I complained. “Cut the rain off for just half an hour, can’t You? Just give us enough time to get these boxes back into the storage building and You can let it rain all the rest of the day! What do You say?” No response, and the rain just seemed to come down harder. A couple of minutes passed, and finally my sister and I both shrugged. We’re not sweet enough to melt in the rain, after all.
We lugged the plastic bins out of the house and into the storage building, getting incredibly soaked in the process, and no, we didn’t melt. But just as I shut the storage building door and locked it, the rain stopped. Perfectly timed. I shook my fist at the sky. “God, that’s not funny!” I shouted. My sister just shook her head and laughed. But God replied quite clearly.
“No, it’s not funny,” He agreed, sounding annoyed. “If you had shown enough faith to wait a mere ten minutes, you would have been completely dry, wouldn’t you?”
I hate it when He makes a point so true I can’t argue.
A lot of the writing I do is at His order. For instance, I’ve never been much into angels. I just never paid much attention to the subject, other than the mentions of them in Bible stories. But when I started writing a Christmas story for the Sunday School teachers in my church every year (I’m the Sunday School director) I discovered there were angels in every story, and so when I published the first collection of Christmas stories “Once Upon A Christmastime” I put an angel on the cover. “Standing Next To A Miracle”, my second collection of short stories, is about the people who were friends and family of the people in Bible stories of miracles, but my third collection, coming out shortly (I’m planning, anyway) is all about angels. “Angels With Attitude” it will be called.
I wasn’t planning on writing anything like any of these short stories. I was planning to be a novelist, and already had a long list of novels I was planning to write as soon as I retired and finally got the time to sit back and pound the keyboard. But when I finally do, what comes out? Short stories about angels and Bible characters. Huh. I never know what will emerge. I’m quite often surprised. I usually can’t remember them, so I have to go back and reread them for myself. I only half-jokingly remarked to my church members that I was ghostwriting for God.
This past Christmas was a hard one for our church. Our church treasurer and a dear friend to many died of illness. At her funeral we discovered a young man who had grown up in our church had died in an accident on his way back to his parents’ home the night before. It was during his funeral a few days later that God spoke to me. I never know until just before Christmas what the gift story will be about. I always just wait for inspiration to strike, find stuff to go into gift bags that goes with the story, and type like mad when it hits. But this time I got it during the funeral, and I was appalled.
You see, there was a story I had been planning to write for the “Angels With Attitude” collection, but I hadn’t got it on my computer yet. God told me this story would be my Christmas gift. I didn’t want to put it in a Christmas gift. It’s a good story (I believe) but horribly inappropriate for any member of my church at Christmastime during our grief. I was even more appalled when I discovered a short while later that the husband of one of the Sunday School teachers had just been diagnosed with a nasty form of cancer.
The story, you see, is about an angel of death (yeah, not THE angel of death – he explains it in the story) appearing to a young cancer patient. I argued fiercely with God. Okay, not argued; protested is really the correct word, since argument is a two way arrangement. God doesn’t bother to argue. You do it His way, or face the consequences. What happens to me is I am placed under unction. I heard that phrase once and thought it sounded appropriate, since that’s the sound I make: “Unnnn!” Essentially, that means since I agreed a long time ago to do what He tells me to do, He’s going to keep nagging me until I do it. In the Bible they called it anointing. Wonder if any of those anointed folk felt like going “Unnn!”
He got His way, of course, but I added a letter outside the story to tell the teachers not to blame me for the story. Apparently, God thought it was necessary for SOMEBODY to read it, so there it went. I haven’t heard from any of them yet. Maybe I’ll put an excerpt on my website and see what everybody else thinks of it. Buy the book to read the whole thing. Or look up one of the teachers I gave it to. They might let you borrow it. But I’d rather you buy the book. You’ll like the other stories, too. God said so.
Update: Just heard from a relative of the young man whose funeral I attended. She said the story helped break her from her deep well of grief and begin to live again. Whew! Never try to second guess God. I’ve learned to just ask to see the results of acting on His orders once in a while. Got to get this third book published.