My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
It was a typical Thursday morning around here. I was urging, pleading the kids to move faster…get in the car…buckle up, please go go go! For some reason we have no trouble getting to the bus stop three days a week by 8 a.m. but on Thursdays? We just can’t seem to get in the car by 8:30 for Bible study. Once again, we were leaving ten minutes later than I would have liked. I knew I’d have trouble finding a parking spot and getting the kids to their classes on time.
We were about two miles from Bible study when we slowed down and passed an accident that had just happened. The cars had pulled to the side but the police had not arrived yet. I realized had we been on time that might have been us. I silently thanked God for keeping us safe and prayed for the people involved. The driver of the one car was a young mom. She had gotten out of her car and was leaning into the back talking to a child in a car seat. The thought popped into my head that I should stop and see if she needed anything. I looked at the clock. We’d be late for Bible study. I looked at the young woman again. She looked fine. There was a line of traffic behind me. Two little kids of my own in the backseat… A dozen other excuses popped into my head in the time it took to creep past the accident. The thought seemed odd to me. I have no medical training, and I’ve never stopped at an accident before. The oddity of it should have made me realize it was God talking. But I didn’t realize that, and instead I listened to my excuses and kept going.
I made it to Bible study just in time to drop the kids off and slip into my seat as the opening music started. We broke into our small discussion groups and as we shared prayer requests, the leader asked us to pray for one of our group members who had been in an accident that morning. I gasped and then felt nauseated. She was the young mom driver I had passed and been prompted to stop and help. I didn’t recognize her as I drove past, but now I did. The gal sitting next to me had the same reaction. She too had passed the accident and thought maybe she recognized the driver and had thought of stopping but didn’t. I. Felt. Terrible. For the rest of the day, I mourned that I had missed an opportunity to respond to God’s voice and help a sister in a time of need. It’s like God was calling to us that morning, giving us the chance to be His arms of love wrapped around one of His kids in a time of distress. Anyone? Anyone? Anyone out there listening? Sorry, God. I had to….get to Bible study.
What an incredible story this could have been, if I had listened to God’s prompting. How surprised and in awe of Him I would have been when I stopped and realized I knew the driver. Could have. Should have. I have no doubt that He took care of His daughter that morning. She and her daughter were not hurt, just a bit shook up. I’m sure there were many ways God wrapped His comforting arms around her that morning. Instead of being part of her blessing, I was part of the lesson.
That same evening, as I was tucking Little Miss Sunshine into bed, she asked why she can’t hear God’s voice like she can hear mine. It’s a recurring conversation in our house. Why can’t we hear God talk and answer us when we pray? How do we know what He’s saying? I sighed and explained to her that God doesn’t necessarily speak to us like we speak to each other. Sometimes we’ll think of something we should or shouldn’t do, and it will be Him. Then I shared with her the story of the accident that morning. We talked about how I didn’t listen, that I didn’t realize it was God asking me to stop, and how sad I was. She patted me on the hand and said, “but He still loves you even though you didn’t listen.” And I knew that was God’s voice to me again.
We prayed together and asked God to forgive us for the times we’ve not listened to Him and to help us to listen and to know when He’s telling us to do something. I’m obviously not a very good listener, and it will most likely take me a lifetime to learn to really hear His voice. But I’m willing to go on that journey. For a lifetime.