Every true call is a call to obey God; indeed the word obedience comes from the Latin audire, which means to listen. -- from Listening Hearts: Discerning Call in Community
Okay. I'm ready to share this. Here’s my religious experience story. Some of you will read it and think, "Wow – cool." Others will read it and think, "Got sanity?" Whatever. It happened to me.
This happened to me a couple of months ago. It was maybe 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning when I awoke suddenly. (Usually this is because my little dog is standing on my fanny – his signal to me to let him out – but this time I just woke up.) I opened my eyes; tried to get my bearings; yawned.
Get on your knees and pray.
You know the monkey-mind mental chatter that runs through our heads all day? This wasn’t it. It was a thought from somewhere else, inserting itself into my own thoughts. That's the only way I can describe it.
That’s weird, I remember thinking. This must be one of those lucid dreams. I patted my face; pinched my arm. No; I’m awake; I can’t be dreaming.
Come on. Get on your knees and pray. It wasn’t an imperious, James-Earl-Jonesian/Barbara Jordanesque command...when I thought about it later, it was more like the Gnat in Alice Through the Looking Glass; a quiet, friendly Presence. The Presence almost seemed...amused. Unlike me; at this point I was starting to break into a cold sweat.
Get on your knees and pray. The Presence had an element of tease; as if the next thought might be, I double-dog dare you. Which would have been funny, if I hadn't been so frightened of what was happening inside my head.
"WHY?" I finally addressed the Presence. (I love this part; this is so me.)
Just get on your knees and pray.
So...I did. I knelt down at the side of my bed, like a little kid, my knees quivering. I was certain that I’d finally lost it. Oh, well...at least they’d find me praying and not, say, standing at the edge of the roof, ready to fly off.
"What should I pray about?"
Anything. Pray the way you always do.
So I did, there in the dark, kneeling on the carpet; for "the whole world, the whole Church of God and for all according to their needs," as I do every evening. Except at this point I was overcome by the sense that I was in the midst of something very real and important, that I was always going to remember, to the end of my days.
I finished praying, when it seemed like a good point to finish. A pause.
That’s fine. You can go back to bed now.
I got back under the covers. I was shaking all over.
"What just happened to me?"
I just wanted to see if you would do that if I asked you to.
That’s when I started crying. And laughing. You’ve got to love a God who does things like this.
But, being me, just as a reality check, when I got up later that morning I fired off an e-mail to a charismatic friend of mine, describing this encounter: "Was this God, or was this me?" The response came back quickly, "Honey, you know who it was. Keep listening."
Has this experience changed my life? Yeah; I think it has. In good ways; in ways that have underscored for me the conviction that I am being led, although I’m not quite sure where. The other day I found myself praying, "Thank you for giving me a job, even though I really don’t know what it is."
I wanted to share this story, because I suspect there are other people out there who have had similar experiences, who haven’t felt comfortable sharing them or who haven't gotten much validation from other Christians. If that describes you, and you are reading this: Don’t be afraid. Honey, you know who it is. And keep listening.