If you have ever read much of my writing, then you will see a lot of references to "my tree" and "my spot at the river" Well, in this following story that I share-- explains why.
NOTE: This was actually written in In October of 2009 about a period in April of 2009
God speaks in our language…
How do I know this? Because so many times I have experienced it. Let me just share one incredible instance with you. But first I have to tell you what led up to my face to face with God. Please bear with me as this story is somewhat winded, but you have to understand what happened in order to appreciate my experience with God’s awesomeness.
My friends and I always refer to PS 33:4 “God’s word is true”
as my “river verse” and here is why.
One day while reading God’s word, PS 33 just floored me, something about “God spoke… God commanded…” just kept speaking to my heart. So I wrote on the top of my notepad Ps 33:4-11, and quit. I forget now what stopped me, one of the kids’ maybe… I don’t know-- well maybe I do now. I think it must have been God. What I didn’t know then, was that the timing wasn’t right for me to actually write the verse down, God just wanted be to have time to meditate on it.
So there it sat top of the page PS 33:4-11 unfinished, for days then weeks. I actually do not know for how long. Long enough for the page to get wrinkled, worn out looking, and several times I was tempted to pull it off and write something else.
Then one Sunday while I had my kids with me, I had this overwhelming need for PEACE. With three boys and a small house, sometimes “peace & quiet” is just not happening. I am sorry to say that on this particular Sunday, I was looking for the “remote button” I wanted to point at the boys and press FREEZE. My bright idea was to take them down to the river. I thought they could run around, explore, climb trees… and I could just sit in my car and breathe. God had other plans for me.
I stopped at the Sonic Drive-in, and bought everybody a coke, got down to the river parked under my favorite tree and without trying to sound like I was begging them to get out, I said, “Ok guys, have at it, Mom’s just going to sit here and read.” My youngest son looked at me with the strangest expression, “Aren’t you coming?” I didn’t know how to tell him I had NO INTENTION of getting out of the car. Again God had other plans.
There I sat, it was so quiet, so peaceful, and I was thankful. I pulled out my notepad and looked at the heading PS 33:4-11 and thought ok, let me go back there.
I went on to write Jer. 46:27-28 at the bottom of the page and then on the next page started Jer. 32:37-42. I was right in the middle of it when God decided that I had had enough of my “quiet” time. First, my youngest came back to the car all in a puff, because of an argument him and my middle son had. So I put out that fire, started to write again, when all the sudden car door opens and I look up to find my oldest son getting in. “It’s hot, I’m tired…” I replied, trying to be nice, calm and polite, “Why don’t you go climb up in the trees and look around?”
At this point I am really hoping that other parents can appreciate my raw nerves. Though I really love my kids, and actually do enjoy being with them, this particular day, it just felt like every nerve inside was screaming and I just had this overwhelming need to hear God’s voice speaking to me.
Devin put his headset on and started listening to music, so I resigned myself to the fact that this was about as much privacy as I was going to get. So, I picked up my notepad and was just fixing to start writing again when my cell phone rings. It’s Mason, my middle son, calling to tell me they were LOST! I’m thinking Lost, how could you be lost???
Very calmly I start asking the questions, “are you still on the walking path, have you past the bridge, did you veer off…” He’s on the phone and even though his voice is a little stained he seems to be handling it very well. Once I established that they were still walking on the path, and "no" they had not veered off, and yes they had past the bridge. I told them they were ok, they just needed to turn around and come back the same direction they had come from. While we are talking, I can hear Wyatt in the background talking about buildings that he can see, and that’s when it hit me, I’m thinking how in the world did they get wherever they were??? Again I told them to just turn around and come back to the bridge and I would send Devin to meet them. (Devin however wasn’t keen on this note.)
After watching Devin get a few yards away, it occurred to me that I forgot to ask Mason which side of the bridge they were on. There is a walking path along both sides of the river and I didn’t think to ask them if they had by chance crossed over the bridge. And to make it worse, now my phone was beeping that the battery was fixing to die, and I already knew that Devin’s battery was getting low also. So I gave up trying to have the quiet time I thought I needed, put my sandals on and ran to catch up with Devin. I really wasn’t panicking, I knew they were ok, but I didn’t want them freaking out and then really getting in a bind. So when Devin & I got to the bridge, I stayed behind in case the boys came up from the other side.
Within a few short minutes later, I saw all three of them come walking up, and yes the “mommy” in me was extremely relieved! And yes, had been praying the “oh, God, please, I know they’re ok. But, oh, God, please…”
When they got up to me and I had done the “mommy hugs” we decided to walk down together to this opening I had seen in the trees and go sit down at the water’s edge. Once we got there, Devin and Mason started throwing rocks into the river and Wyatt sat down next to me. Now, keep in mind the river was really dried up and we were able to go out quite a distance into the river bed before actually getting to the water. Sitting there, it reminded me of when the Israelites were getting ready to cross the Jordan River. I was also reminded that something kept prompting me weeks earlier to come down here and get my own “12 river rocks” that God had told Joshua to get as a reminder of them crossing the river, but had decided that I was being ridiculous and so I never did. God, however, decided that YES I was going to! And low and behold, HERE I was!
Wyatt and I had a wonderful discussion about God’s people crossing over the Jordan River. God’s promises to his people then, and what we believed God has promised to us and our family. About how the people had taken a step into the water showing faith that they believed God before God showed them the path across the river. We talked about God answering his prayers earlier that weekend at a wrestling match and about how God will sometimes answer one prayer for us but at the same time answer prayers for other people. And then I confessed to him that I had felt that a few weeks earlier God was prompting me to come down here to the river and get river rocks for me and my family to have for when we “crossed our river”.
By now I had all three of the boy’s attention. They thought this was a wonderful idea and insisted that we should do this. So each of the boys picked out a river rock, I picked one out, and then Mason decided that we needed to have one for the missing member of our family. You see, for now, it’s only me and the boys, but we believe that God has promised us that He will give us someone new to lead our family, and we have been waiting for him. So we also picked out a rock for him. (As of today- the rock still sits in our living room with the other four.)
After awhile, we decided to head home. With rocks and sticks in arm, we headed back to the car, stopping at the bridge so Mason and Wyatt could race up and down it. I had my arms loaded with all of our treasures and I kept quietly hearing, “your phone is by the river”. I completely ignored this warning, I didn’t check my pocket, of course I really couldn’t with everything I was loaded up with. So the little whisper telling me that I had left my phone at the river was ignored.
We got home and Mason and I decided to go over to the high school parking lot and “drive” around. I let him sit in my lap and steer while I work the stick shift, then we just circled around the parking lot over and over again. It was fun and it gave me and him time together to visit. At about 6:30, I noticed the car was almost on empty. We stopped so he could get back in his seat, and we could go up to the Smith’s grocery store. But first I figured I needed to call Devin to let him know where we were headed. You guessed it!! No phone. Then it hit me and I KNEW where it was. I still checked my purse anyway and even the back seat of the car; Mason even called it to see if I had left it in the house with Devin and Wyatt. Again, I KNEW where it was, and now I was in a high tale hurry to get back down to the river to get it before someone else picked it up! And, I was no longer happy about having to stop and get gas!!
The whole way back to the river Mason kept asking me how were we ever going to find that spot again, and was worried we wouldn’t be able to see the part in the trees we had gone through. Also, it was starting to get dusk. I just kept telling him, trust me; we are going to walk RIGHT to it. He was really worried, and again I just assured him that we were going to walk right to it! He wanted to know how I knew that! Simple enough question. You should have seen the look on his face when I told him God would lead us right to it, because apparently I needed to be there! I told him that I heard God earlier warning me that I had left it by the rocks but I had ignored his whispering.
We got to the river, parked the car and in a very fast pace headed to the river bed. The whole time Mason was saying, “Mom, if it’s there, we had better stop and thank God!” I assured him, that if we went straight to the opening, found my phone, we would indeed be “thanking God”.
At this point, my dear friend, I wish you could close your eyes and in your mind see the most spectacular view that God gave me and Mason that night!! And also, I quit being upset about having to stop and put gas in the car. You see, God planned everything! Had we been 5 minutes earlier or even 5 minutes later, we would have missed the most incredible sight God had planned for us!!
Just as I had assured Mason, we went straight to the opening in the trees, got down to the water, and the sight that awaited us was so incredibly beautiful! I literally heard Mason suck in his breath (mine was caught in my throat) and in an awesome struck voice, he whispered “Mom, look”.
Dear friend, I want you to know, I couldn’t even respond to him. I just stood there shaking my head in an amazed disbelief and utter overwhelmness. My phone was lying right by the large rock I had been sitting on earlier, where it must have fallen out of my pocket. But what held us spellbound was the sheer beauty of a vivid golden sunlit path over the water from the setting sun on the other side of the riverbank to the edge of my phone. The other side of the bank went up at an angle and it just so happened, that right there was a break in the trees, and the way the sun was setting, it was almost like it was sitting on the bank in between the trees. There was a path, I kid you not, wide enough that it looked like we could have walked on it. In fact, Mason kept saying, “Mom, look, we could walk on it!”
The way the sun was setting it really looked like someone had taken a wide paint brush and painted a magnificent golden path from the sun sitting on the edge of the bank across the water and right up to the edge of my cell phone sitting in the rocks. I kid you not when I tell you that this golden path stopped at my phone!! It wasn’t going past my phone, it was as if my phone was sitting on it to block it from going any further! Literally this path stopped at the edge of my phone. Mason and I squatted down behind it to see if it really did line right up to it. I stood back up, and walked a few feet to the left to see if from a different angle, I would still be able to see this path coming across to something else. Nope, the trees on the other side hinder it. So I walked back to my phone and then went a few feet to the right; same thing. I walked back over to Mason, who was still squatting down behind it. At this point I was still just in shock at what I was seeing, it was so incredibly beautiful. I just kept whispering, “Thank you, God.” Mason’s voice was so low I could barely hear him, I’m not sure if he was really talking to me or more to himself. I kept thinking that I was so glad he was here with me to witness this. The other thing that I kept watching was the water. It in itself, at that time of the evening, was really pretty. The water was moving down river and was kind of rippling in a way, but the path, was smooth and still. It really looked like we could just walk on it.
After a bit, we pick up my phone and stood there in silence as we watch the path recede back and then just melted into the moving water and then disappear. Common sense tells me, the sun was just starting to move down behind the bank on the other side. But again, God’s timing, it didn’t pull back until we were ready to pick up the phone, and take in what we had just witnessed. If we had been any earlier or any later, we would have missed it, but with God’s timing and His hand in everything that day, He led us to it at just the right time to show us that He was with us; He has a path for us, and a future for us.
When we got back to the car, just as I had promised, we sat there holding hands and prayed, thanking God for what He had orchestrated for us. On the way home, Mason kept telling me that how, earlier when they were “lost”, that he knew all they had to do was turn around. But for some reason, he just couldn’t. He was telling me that they just kept walking farther and farther down the walking path. He said that even when they were starting to get a little worried, and then a lot worried, he COULD NOT bring himself to turn around. He said looking back at it; that it was really weird. He said he knew they needed to turn around and come back, but he just couldn’t bring himself to. I told him, that it wasn’t him. That I believed it was God who had a hand on him and was leading him out. When he asked why, I told because God knew that the only thing to get me out of the car and down to the water, was for him and Wyatt to call me. But that they had to be out of their comfort zone and worried enough for me to hear it in their voice. That God knew what it would take to get my response that He wanted.
When we got home and shared it with Devin and Wyatt, they were disappointed that they had missed it but were really excited about the whole thing. Later that night when I was tucking Wyatt in bed, he asked me why I thought God had let them get lost, especially when God knew that Wyatt was starting to cry and get scared. Why would God have let that happen? I gave him a kiss and told him the same thing I had said to Mason. That they were never lost, that God had His hand on them the whole time. But that I believed that God took them out far enough, and just to Wyatt’s breaking point, and then had them call me. Wyatt was amazed that I would think such a thing. But I explained to him, that I really felt that a few weeks earlier I was suppose to go down there on my own, but I kept talking myself out of it, thinking that it was ridiculous. And that even that day, I had NO intentions of getting out of the car. So God allowed (and worked in) my children something that would get my attention to get me down where He wanted me.
Wyatt asked me why. I told him that I had been battling some major disbelief's issues, and I felt that on one hand God showed me something, and had given me a promise for our family and our future, but on the other hand, I was having a difficult time trying to decide was it really God’s promise or was it just something I was wanting. I told him I felt like God was planting something in me and working something in me, but I just needed to see, or to know that it really was God, and not just me. Wyatt and I both agreed that night, we believe!
To confirm our river visit, and maybe to remove any lingering doubts, God went one step further! The next morning, the alarm clock went off. You would think this wouldn’t be any big deal, but I usually always wake up before the alarm. I just have it set to the last moment I have to wake up to get the boys up, just in case I oversleep. I can’t stand waking up to alarm clocks, and have pretty much been able to wake up in time to stretch, enjoy the peace and quiet and get up and turn it off before ever hearing it. Not that morning.
So many things were going thru my mind. The pastor read my verse! Not PS 33:1 or 2 or 3 or any number of verses in PS 33, but verse 4. The very verse I had started with the day before. Not only did that blow my mind that out of over 33,000 verses that are in the bible, the pastor read the exact verse I had been meditating on! AND, just to make sure that I understood and recognized it, the pastor read it in MY LANGUAGE! You see, I read the New Century Version Daily Bible every day. This is NOT the most common bible version. In fact if you look up PS 33:4 in other versions, even though they all mean the something, they are not worded the same way! I also had to prove it to myself that it just wasn’t a coincidence, and that it really was PS 33:4 the pastor had quoted and I wasn’t by chance getting it mixed up with another verse. So I got on to my Bible software and did a keyword search for “God’s word is true” and I selected 5 of the most common versions of the Bible translations and the NCV. I figured the phrase was written in a lot of the verses, and perhaps I just didn’t know it. WRONG. 33,000 verses x 5 translations, equals 165,000 verses that this phase could be repeated. Do you want to know how many times I found that it came up? One time, PS 33:4 NCV. One time, and only in the translation I read every day. The unknown pastor had just quoted the VERY verse that had been on my heart to write down, and to make sure I recognized that it was “my verse” God had this pastor quote it in the translation I am familiar with.
Why is “God’s word is true” so important to me? Because, for the past several weeks, well a few months actually, I had felt that God had given me an answer to prayers thru His word and with different situations that kept coming up. This same “answer” kept coming back thru various ways over and over again. But I had been battling the whole “… now did God really say?” The promises I felt God was giving me, thru his word and in other ways, were more than my heart could hope for. You see, me and the boys, have gone thru such a hard time, and there were so many obstacles being slammed at me on a daily basis, it just seems like nothing was ever going to change, and if it was, then I am completely dependent on God to bring it to pass. The promises I have felt like God had given me and the answers I felt I had “heard”, only God could bring to pass. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe He could, I had been battling the “would God really do these things for me”. I was battling the “are these God’s promises for me and my kids, or is it just what I want so badly for me and my kids?”
So for God to go to such extremes to get me down to the river to see that, just like for the Israelites, God had a plan-- and a purpose-- and a path for me-- is truly amazing. And, then for God to assure me IN HIS WORD, that His word to me is true, is incredible. And, for God to go even further and make sure I understood He was talking to me, He spoke in a language He knew I would understand! Had the pastor quoted that same verse in the New International Version, or any other version, I would not have recognized it. It would have gone right over my head.
One last thing that God did for me to cement in our river adventure, was on that Friday, He used Jer. 32 in my week’s end devotional to show me He had been there at the beginning and He was there at the end. It wasn’t the exact same verse again, but pretty darn close! And that was ok, I didn’t need it to be the EXACT same verse, because by now my faith had grown enough to know that it was still of God. You see, God started my week with the very first verse I had written down on Sunday, and He finished my week with where I had been writing when the boys called me to say they were lost, which was from Jer. 32.
What was truly awesome for me, was that the writer didn’t use the “nothing’s impossible” from when Jesus said it to his disciples, or when the angle told Mary she was to have a baby. Nope, the writer used Jer. 32, and for me, this was totally a God thing.
God showed me, face to face, how He was willing to speak and confirm His promises to me, in a way that I could understand. I am truly humbled and amazed at the lengths God would take.
God knew what would get me out of the car, and He wasn’t above using my children to accomplish this means. This is a reminder to me, that God will use whoever necessary to complete His mission. With or without their knowledge;
- It reminded me the King of Egypt. God told him, “you were raised up be used to show my glory.” And of course there is Pilate and Jonah. Even the King of Assyria! Read Isa. 10:5-7 "But Assyria’s king doesn’t understand that I am using him; he doesn’t know he is a tool for me" (NCV).
God wants us to understand Him and to be able to understand His message to us. When the sign was made to be placed over Jesus’ cross, it was written is several languages, so that it didn’t matter whoever went past it; they would still be able to read it. Also in Acts 2:6 “when they heard this noise, a crowd came together. They were all surprised, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.”
It may not have been a burning bush, but God knew how to get my attention and not only did he show it to me, my children were involved, so I couldn’t later go back and wonder “now did that really happen?”
On a final note: It wasn’t until about 3, maybe 4 weeks later when we were able to go back out to the river. We parked the car under “my tree” and headed down to the water. We couldn’t get ANYWHERE near where we had been. Our spot was completely under water! Wyatt’s response was “WOW, WHAT A BIG GOD.” And yes, I am truly thankful for this face to face with God.
Here are a few pictures of my tree
AND!! When my new book came out a few weeks ago (Covered in Prayer, Praying for HIS needs), Mason looked at the cover and was really quiet. When I asked him how he liked it, he just smiled and said, "It kind of reminds me of the river and the golden path that day we found your phone." I was so excited, because I hadn't said anything-- I knew what it reminded me of, but I was waiting to see if HE would recognize it.