Monday, October 25, 2010

Inner Voice

I have to admire marathon runners. I honestly don't know how they do it. Despite the physical strength required to run 26.2 miles, mental strength is also required. I can't seem to concentrate on a single thing for more than a few minutes. Imagine having to focus your thoughts for anywhere from 3-6 hours? Sure, you can plug in your iPod, but that's a lot of time alone with your thoughts. They say 80-90 percent of "self-talk" is negative. In other words, thoughts like "you can't do that" or "if only I was like him/her" or "I'll never..." A weak mind over the course of a race can be bombarded with such thoughts.

When I was younger and actually ran a little (and by little, I mean I sprinted. 400m was "long distance" for me) I read an article in Runner's World called the "Nine Golden Cheetahs" that has always stuck with me. The story was of an African runner who would run for miles and miles. At some point, he would reach his "wall" where he strength could no longer sustain him, but only by sheer will-power could he reach his destination. He also hit a mental wall where his thoughts failed him. Delirium would set in. It was at this point that he saw nine golden cheetahs staring at him. As he approached, the cheetahs began to run away towards his destination. He was compelled to follow them. The will to follow those cheetahs overcame his pain, his exhaustion until he reached his goal and the cheetahs were gone.

Paul, when describing our adopted relationship with our Lord in heaven, said we received a Spirit that allows us to call Him 'Abba'. (Galatians 4:6 and Romans 8:15). Abba is an informal term and would have sounded shocking to his Jewish audience. The message being that we have such a close relationship that we can be informal with God. I've heard others pray to "Papa" in that same vein.

Yesterday my wife ran a half-marathon. Her second, to add to 6 full. I admire her deeply for the commitment she makes and the strength it takes. She's found that her "wall" hits right around the maximum distance run during training. But the mental wall can happen at any time. Her mental wall hit with a little over a mile to go. She knew she was close and was making good time. But she saw something out of the ordinary out of the corner of her eye that tripped her concentration. When she tried to regain focus, she heard the words, "you can do it, mija!" coming from somewhere deep inside of her.

Mija is a term much like Abba. It is informal and endearing. But it's not a word used casually, it is loaded with too much affection. My wife is Latina but she hasn't been called mija since her grandmother would call her that as a child. That voice was out of the blue and unexpected. But she could feel herself somewhat carried the last mile.

We had a long conversation last night about where this voice could have come from. A distant memory? Did she overhear someone else? Was it God reaching out and giving her a hug? We settled on the latter. We recognize that sometimes God reaches out to us and whispers in our ear. I've heard such voices when facing hard decisions. But I have to admit I've never had an example so personal, so endearing.

My question this week: Has God ever audibly spoken to you? What did He say?


herbhalstead said...

Wow, great post. God was after me since I was a teen-ager to accept His call on my life to preach.

The first time, I was moving things on the platform for a children's musical. I walked behind the pulpit, grabbed it with two hands to life it up and move it. As my hands touched I got a flash-forward/vision of me preaching in front of a large crowd. I let go as if I touched a hot stove. it freaked me out, but I dismissed it.

The second time, my pastor was preaching about David's anointing by Samuel. He was dramatizing, and said "David, I choose you, and anoint you for my purposes" - right after that I heard God say, "You are David." Scared me - talked to my pastor, then went on my merry way.

The third time, at different church, in a different state, a different pastor preached the same passage. He dramatized just like the other guy. As he said, "David, I anoint you for my service," God said to me, "Herb, do you hear me? You are David, I have chosen you to preach my Name."

That was 5 minutes into the message. I spent the rest of the service weeping, unable to quell it, sometimes bursting audibly, and chose right there to do what He said. I was weeping and unable to talk during the rest of the message, everyone thought something was wrong and tried to console me, but I could not even talk.

I drove the whole way home still weeping, Angel tried to get it out of me but I just couldn't talk. Finally as I parked the car in our driveway. I looked at her and said, "God called me to preach today," and she said, "well it's about time! He told me that a long time ago."

Fatha Frank said...

Herb, that's an awesome story! I cn actually relate to the weeping part- I react that way when God's will is as clear as you describe. I don't get a voice however, just a sense of this is the way I need to go. I had that with my marriage, my job, and I regret to say my writing. I've sat on that one and every now and then I feel God poking at me to keep after it.

herbhalstead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
herbhalstead said...

well, the "voice" is hard to put a finger on - sometimes I wonder if it was really audible to me, or just so loud in my head that it seemed audible - every time I read of Paul's encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, I wonder if the "voice" was similar. The *farther* I get from that moment, the more puzzling it gets. Hmm.. I fear I am making no sense LOL.

Anonymous said...


today He told me to buy two more carrots.

Fatha Frank said...

LOL @ Nancy

Jeff Jordan said...

Great post and good question you pose. I can honestly say I've never actually "heard" the voice of God. But, I've faced tough decisions in my life, and at the time, knew without a doubt that God was showing me the answer. One event in particular my wife and I had to deal with. Looking back we both say, we didn't know how we would get through it, but not only did He show the way, He "provided the ram" as well.

caryjo said...

The first time I heard God speak to me, He hollered! And He had every right to. I had just had a tough time at a youth ministry location -- and I was still 21, I think, and had only come to the Lord a year earlier -- and I was hollering at Him in prayer. And HE hollered back. The message: stop complaining and fussing; you think YOU'VE got it tough; what about the others?

I immediately backed off and said "sorry"...

He's spoken to me so amazingly over the years, kindly, lovingly, instructionally... but the first time was to get my attitude straightened out. A good Daddy, doncha think?

Fatha Frank said...

Thanks Jeff & CaryJo for your comments. I think God speaks to each of us in such a way that we will hear him- audible voice, passing thought, compelled by the Spirit to some action. This story with my wife was unique because it was so personal and she'd never experienced anything like that before. I always hope for a voice for the hard decisions so there'sno doubt, but I know God expects me to trust him more than the obvious.