God’s voice. Sometimes He speaks to me through signs, everyday objects. I’ll be walking down the street and something I see will grab my attention.
The street next to my office is a loop that takes about 10 minutes for me to walk around. A few months ago, I was taking a break, walking and thinking, letting my mind drift away from work and starting to feel the familiar pain, creeping up into my lungs. Breathing it in, breathing it out. Throbbing uncertainty.
Slower and slower I walk. Step, step, step.
Why, God? How could this be happening?
It hurts, God.
It hurts so bad.
I’m so scared.
Where are you?
I need you to speak to me.
Then, a stillness.
Corrie, I’m here. I’m all around you.
Oh, now it’s quiet.
Here we are, together.
Breathing in peace, breathing out peace.
Step, step, step.
You’re really here.
I’m seeing it. Feeling it. You’re speaking through everything. All the time.
Mid-sentence with God, mid-step, and mid-scan for dog poop on the ground, my eyes naturally fell on a bush by the sidewalk…. with a rounded crumple of newspaper, that had been tossed on top of it, somehow inviting me to pick it up.
God, you’re funny.
Why would I notice that?
Should I really pick it up?
So I reached over. While I was figuring out which two fingernails to grab it with, the last two Chinese characters on a line of crumpled text seemed to stare back up at me. I only knew the first one – tian, meaning sky or heaven. I had no clue what the second one meant.
Ok, God, what do you have for me in “tian _____”?
(Just the knowledge that He was there.)
The 3 minute return walk back to my office was uneventful, heightened only by my
twinge of curiosity for what these two characters meant.
An online dictionary popped up with “Tian Lai – an ancient musical flute; also refers to nature sounds”.
Hmmm…. Ok, that’s cool, I guess.
But not that cool. Doesn’t really move me.
Oh well, God.
Thanks for my moments of peace with you just now, anyway.
But…I did sense that You were right there with me when I picked up that newspaper, so… are You going to like, have a Chinese guy playing an ancient musical flute come up to me on the street later or something?
That would be cool. Well, I’ll just wait and see what You might do. I know You’re here, and I know You know exactly what I’m thinking, and what I need, so I’ll just trust that You have something in mind.
Honestly, I almost forgot about that crumpled piece of newspaper the rest of the day. Until about almost midnight, when I was saying goodnight to my Chinese friend Joanne who was staying overnight at my house.
“Hey, Joanne, what do the words ‘Tian Lai’ mean to you?”
“Tian Lai, the Chinese word.”
She grinned and lit up: “Oh, Corrie, who said that to you?”
My curiosity peaked.
“It doesn’t matter, just tell me what you think it means.”
My heart started beating faster.
“Oh, well, obviously. Someone told you that about your voice, right? Your singing. Corrie, that’s the highest compliment someone can give to a singer. It means your voice is pure, open, and heavenly… So who said that to you?”
I sat there, stunned. Sucked in my breath. Tears rising.
I showed her the newspaper, which I had brought home. The words were used as part of a car advertisement. She shook her head and smiled: “Like I said, Corrie. That’s the highest compliment someone could give to a singer.”
As she closed her bedroom door, I sat there with God on the couch and shared a moment of joy with Him. My dad. My guardian. My best friend. My love. My warrior. Who in the midst of my crying out for my former love – my beloved husband – had decided not to talk to me about my husband, or what to do, or how to move forward in my marriage situation.
Instead, He cut to the core of me, and only He knew how to do it. Singing. Expressing my longings. Truth. Music. His heart. My heart. Beating together.
I’m not rejected. I’m not alone.
I’m known. I’m ok.
I’m loved. I’m adored.
Singing to cut through lies, seizing His heart and reveling in how quickly a painful moment can become a soaring one.
I don’t think there is anything inherently special in objects or signs in and of themselves. We really don’t have to go around hunting for “things.”
What is special, though, are the moments during which we become aware of how surrounded we are by the indescribably powerful, supernatural, and calming presence of God. During the pure delight of these moments, I find He sometimes highlights to us certain objects that happen to be around us.
Tangible exclamation points to what He is already speaking out.
The intermingling of the natural with the supernatural.