I recall a very real experience when God answered my anguished prayer. It changed my life and taught me a life lesson about the heart and accessibility of God. ♦
I was reminded this week of a time God spoke to me. No, not audibly, but clearly in answer to my call out to Him in frustration, almost desperation. The answer was clear, uncannily clear. Not a complete answer for me, but a clear green light to proceed on a path that was good and right and one that He endorsed.
What a gift.
I learned that morning that God is as accessible as talking to a friend or family member. I didn’t need any fancy pomp or circumstance, or any special dispensation or permission or emissary to talk to the Creator of the Universe. Good thing, because if I thought I had to prepare my petition or presentation or get my life in order to start talking to God I might have talked myself out of even trying.
No, I just went at Him like a young teen going at a parent when things aren’t going his or her way.
And God could handle it. Like a wise parent, He seemed to know my breaking point and gave me what I needed to proceed with a new sense of awe and wonder. I actually got a glimpse of how we’re supposed to do life everyday, as difficult as that is to accomplish with all of our humanness and worldly distractions.
He spoke to me by answering a very specific prayer twice within a 45 minute time-frame.
So What Happened?
In 2001 the dot-com crash played out and was amplified by the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. The business world paused, actually stopped if you were in the sales arena. A startup company I had been successfully growing saw its demise during this time and I was suddenly out of job in a devastated marketplace.
My experience told me that all companies would be struggling. I suspected I could have gotten a job elsewhere but I had this very strange thought to start my own business. This was otherworldly for me because I never wanted to start my own business. I was happy driving sales and teams with good companies. And as the sole provider I had a family to feed that depended on me. The risk seemed too great and unnecessary.
Nevertheless I pursued that nagging idea to launch my own sales training and consulting firm. In December of 2001 of all times. With one child heading off to college soon and two more following shortly. And a very nervous wife. Without a lot of planning, but with a keen sense of urgency and an odd spiritual mandate, I launched my company, MXL Partners.
And it was spiritual. Looking back, this was the beginning of my Big Release, my letting go of all things Mike and learning to trust in Someone who knew me better and had a better plan. I told my wife that God seemed to be telling me to trust Him. I told her I felt we “were building a testimony.” It was the beginning of my learning to listen to that still small voice and refine my awareness of open and shut windows, doors, people and opportunities. I’ve since learned that it’s a lifelong process with a very patient Teacher/Coach/Father/Mentor/Lord.
Ignorance is Quasi-Bliss
And I really didn’t understand how God works. I thought I knew. After all, I’d been “a Christian” for 30 years at this point and heard my fair share of sermons, read books, been on retreats and conferences. Was even an elder in a respected church. But to me then, God was actually a mystery, a black box. Sad to say, but I knew much but really didn’t know God much.
Yet in spite of my ignorance, my heart yearned for Him. If God told me to go left, I would have gone left. In many ways, I was like simple Abram (later Abraham) who merely “believed” and God “reckoned it as righteousness.” Abram wasn’t perfect or very smart or even had it all together. He was a normal man who simply believed God and the promises made and repeated to him in Genesis 12 and 15 and 17. And God had plenty of reasons to be frustrated with this well-meaning but foolish man Abram.
But God loves. He loves us and He loved Abram in spite of his brokenness, errors and short-sighted thinking. He treats Abram and us like a good father treats a bumbling young child. With loving, wise guidance. With answers that seem fuzzy to us sometimes, but enough for us to proceed in growing trust and dependence. And freedom.
And that’s what happened to me.
Taking God to Task
It was now early March of 2002 and my fledgling business was floundering. The bills were piling up and my wife was pressing me to “get a real job.” I began to doubt the spiritual inspiration I had to start this business. Maybe I “heard’ it wrong. Maybe I was nuts. Maybe I should give up and call it quits. Can’t blame a guy for trying, right?
I was driving home from a meeting when I felt compelled to take it out on God. With respect, mind you, I told God I was at my wits end. I asked God to “give me a sign.” I literally apologized immediately as I thought one’s not supposed to “put God to the test.” Or so Jesus had said once, actually in a completely different context. I told God I needed to know a clear answer “by the end of quarter” – less than 30 days away.
When I arrived home I found my wife with bills on the table and a very worried look. I told her I prayed and gave God an ultimatum, until the end of the month. I went to my office and within 15 minutes I received a call from a company that inquired into my services based on a strong referral that morning. The caveat was that they “had to have the project done within the next 30 days.” Twenty minutes later I received a call from another company that wanted a project done, however it “had to be done within the next 30 days.”
I literally wept at my desk.
Yes, God is real and showed His gentle hand on me that morning. I’ve plodded forward from that point through years of business growth and challenges, kids through colleges and weddings and now grandchildren. Not without questions and many frank dialogues with God. It’s a good relationship. But on that day I got a significant glimpse of the Father’s great love and purpose and attention to detail and a power large and worthy to be followed, obeyed, served, and known.
Do you believe God? Do you know God?
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17