It wasn’t a loud, booming voice. It wasn’t even audible. It was subtle, a thought I knew wasn’t mine, inviting me into an adventure I didn’t see coming.
It was July of 2008, and I was with others who wanted to learn to hear God’s voice more clearly for themselves and to love those around them. An announcement was made to our group that we would make jewelry and go to the mall to hand it out. My first thought was, “Jewelry! Now I am at home!”. I was a jeweler by trade; jewelry I can do. Hearing the voice of God, I wasn’t so sure.
Our instructor guided us to pray, to ask God for an encouraging word for someone, and then to make that word into a bracelet or necklace using little square blocks with letters. OK, how hard could it be?
I sat quietly and began to pray.
Immediately, the word “erased” came to my mind. It was a precise and odd word to pop into my head. Although, in my thoughts, it didn’t feel like it originated from me. “That can’t be God” I reasoned. “Wouldn’t He give me a word like joy, peace or love? What kind of a dumb word is erased?”.
I remember our teacher saying, “Go with whatever comes to your mind.”
“Ugh! Why did I agree to come on this trip? I can’t hear from God.” In frustration but out of a desire to participate, I reached for a bracelet to thread the word “ERASED.” It didn’t feel right when I grabbed the women’s size, so I traded it for the largest size and threaded six block letters onto the chain.
As my group entered the local mall, the smell of food was in the air. The “erased” bracelet was so large that I had to attach it to my watch to keep it on my wrist. I remember thinking, “I am probably going home with this bracelet today; I can’t hear from God like the others.” As we walked by an athletic-looking man sitting on a bench by himself, a direct phrase popped into my head, “There is your ‘erased’”.
What?! Is that you, God? Did You just tell me that the bracelet was for this man?
He was a little intimidating, but I knew what I felt. My heart began to pound, my palms began to sweat and I decided to go with it. After all, it was now or never. I needed to know if I was hearing from God. With fear and trembling I sat down on the bench next to this man who looked like he could have played professional football.
I didn’t know what to say.
I knew sometimes you must step out in faith, so I boldly declared to him, “If I thought I had a word from the Lord for you would you want it?” (The only word I had at this moment was the word “erased”. What on earth was I going to say if he said yes?)
With a soft, kind voice he said, “Yes, yes I would”. I opened my mouth and these words fell out, “The Lord wants you to know that your past has been erased. All things old are passed away; you are a new creation in Christ. There has been something from your past that you are holding on to and the Lord wants you to know that He has forgiven you and it does not belong to you anymore.”
His eyes were tearing as he stared at me with a shocked look.
I am not sure which one of us was more stunned. I asked, “Does that make any sense to you?” He said, “Yes, it does. I just got fired from my job because they found out about my past.” I replied, “You are kidding me!”.
Jesus was pursuing him.
We processed his situation and I asked if He knew the Lord. He told me he knew Jesus but was not following Him. We talked briefly and then I told him that although he may not have been looking for Jesus, Jesus was looking for him.
I shared that I had made a bracelet, without knowing who it was for, earlier that morning. As I was putting it on him (it fit perfectly on his large wrist!) we talked about how the God of the universe was pursuing his heart. Then, a beautiful woman with two children walked up. I was sure she would punch me for talking to her man!
I immediately introduced myself to her then he gave me permission to tell her what the Lord had shown us. She began to cry and said, “Did he tell you he just lost his job because of this?” Tears filled all of our eyes.
We talked a while longer, then all five of us held hands and prayed, standing in the middle of the mall while crying. We asked God to open doors of work opportunity and for God to continue ministering to their hearts. In the middle of the mall God met them, and right there at the bench that I had reluctantly approached, they rededicated their lives to Him. I was undone.
It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed.
“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.
And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
God loves that man so much.
Fifteen years have gone by since I met that man, yet I still stand in awe. The Holy Spirit knew he would be at the mall that day, sitting on that bench, at that very moment. About three hours earlier, He inspired a word on a bracelet that was just the right size for him. What an amazing testimony of His love and reconciliation.
I learned a lot that day. I was truly blessed more than the family I met.
First, I realized that God’s love knows no boundaries. He will go to any length to show us His faithfulness; He pursues us.
Second, I learned that God will use our lives, even when we fear and doubt. His word tells us that His sheep hear His voice. He speaks to our hearts and if we obey, we can be part of our most fantastic adventure: His plans and intentions.
Third, I learned that God forgives us for our past mistakes. It is others, and ourselves, who allow our mistakes to hold us back, not our creator. The accuser loves to stand and charge us with our sins, but God has already forgiven us.
At that moment, I experienced God’s love tangibly.
I pray I never forget His love for that man on the bench. Although I know I often miss His leading or don’t follow through in obedience, after this encounter I promised to continually grow in the fantastic adventure of hearing God’s voice.
“Lord, show me your heart for those around me.” Would you join me in this prayer?
Have you ever wondered…
Can I hear God’s voice?
How does God speak to us?
How do I know if it’s God or just me?
Let’s talk about these questions and more. Don’t miss the next four episodes of Living the Reclaimed Life podcast with Norma Donovan from Restoring Hearts Ministries as we dive into a mini-series called “Is that you, God?”. You will be glad you tuned in!
Subscribe anywhere you listen to podcasts. Here>https://thereclaimedlife.buzzsprout.com
“If you debate for a second when God has spoken, it is all up. Never begin to say- “Well, I wonder if He did speak?” Be reckless immediately; fling it all out on Him. You do not know when his voice will come, but whenever the realization of God comes in the faintest way imaginable, recklessly abandon. It is only by abandon that you recognize Him. You will only realize His voice more clearly by recklessness.” 1.
Together, let’s ask the question “Is that you, God?”
Founder, Reclaimed Story
- Oswald Chambers, “Don’t Think Now, Take the Road”, My Utmost for His Highest, www.utmost.org. 07 February 2023.