In II Samuel Chap. 22 David sings a song of praise to the Lord, and in the 14th verse he says “The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.” This reference to thunder being the voice of God is common in the Old Testament (e.g. Ps 29; Job 37:2-5). But how does God attract our attention today, and, having got our attention, how does he transmit a message today?
When we think of praying, we usually think of petitions for ourselves or on behalf of family, friends, and others. We usually think of our talking to God. I learned some time ago that if we take time to pray and include silent portions in our prayers we can often get an answer while we are still on our knees, before we end that prayer. And those answers can sometimes be astounding: For example, from 1995 to 1997 when I was doing computer programming, the Lord showed me more than once things about Windows 95 that I had been unable to find in any of the manuals that I owned — ideas to try which I had not thought of but which turned out to be the solution to knotty problems plaguing my work.
So when you pray that way, you will be familiar with God “talking back” to you — giving you information that you have asked for — solving problems for you that you were working on but could not solve on your own.
But even if you are at that level in your prayer life, what about the situation in which God wants to initiate a conversation? How would God get your attention and communicate to you when you were going about your normal business and happened not to be praying at the time? Have you ever wondered about that? Or have you ever experienced it?
In Biblical times, God appeared in visions or called in a loud voice from heaven or sent the message through His prophets or with angels. However, if he were to do that today, I think most of us would be so awestruck as to fail to pay attention to the message. I am sure that He can find other ways of doing this today, but let me give you a surprising result of something that happened to me: In this case the Lord got my attention by first allowing me to experience a very serious problem.
On Thursday, September 25, 1997, I had an appointment to get a flu shot at the local hospital about 10 minutes away from our home, so I planned to leave the house at 7:55 A.M., allowing 15 minutes to get there, park the car, and sign in. But around 7:40 I realized that my keys were missing — all of them! Dorian was about to leave the house using the Mercury to go shopping, and I said that if I couldn’t find my keys she might have to take me — so she lent me her key to the Geo, and I left on time.
However, I was so shaken up by wondering what happened to my keys and how I would go about finding them that I missed taking the short cut to the hospital that I had planned to take, and, as a result, arrived five minutes after the appointed time. This was no big deal, but it was just something to add to the confusion — being late on top of not having my keys.
On the way home I was reviewing in my mind where I had the keys last, and what I had done since that time. I concluded that they had to be around the house somewhere, because I had not left the house since I had driven home. One place that I hadn’t yet looked was around some plants that I had planted the day before: Perhaps I had been wearing them on my belt loop, and maybe they had fallen off outside.
So when I pulled into the garage, I closed the roll-up door and, before going into the house and turning off the security system, I immediately rushed out the small exterior side door — a door which, when opened, immediately sets off our security alarm.
Now I was really shaken up: Keys missing and our alarm screeching away. In a situation like this I knew I had one minute to try to remember what our security code was before our Central Monitoring Station would be calling to ask if we had a problem. Fortunately I did remember what turned out to be the correct code, so they realized that I was not an intruder.
But it developed that I really did have a problem because I couldn’t get the alarm to stop screeching no matter what I tried. Nothing I did would silence it now. The Central Monitoring Station could not help me, and I had to call the people who installed and still service our system. On top of all of this, I knew I had to get it fixed by 9:30 A.M., because that is when Dorian and I had to leave to get to a friend’s house so Dorian could stay with the friend, who was recovering from hip surgery, while I drove her husband, whose heart problem keeps him from driving, to an appointment.
By this time, I was shaking like a leaf. It is one thing to try to work while an alarm is screeching so loudly that you can’t hear someone on the phone and to do this under the best of circumstances when you are deliberately testing the system out. But to do it when you are shaken up to begin makes the problem that much more difficult.
Fortunately the service man was able to talk me through the steps that I had to follow to silence the alarm, and over the phone he was able to show me how to get the system back to normal again.
But before we hung up, I asked him why this had happened. I had started the chain of events by going out the wrong door when the system was still armed, but it should have shut off when I punched the local code in, and even if that failed, it certainly should have shut off when I went to the control panel box and hit the reset button. So why did I have all of this trouble?
His answer was that some time before this we must have experienced a power surge or a nearby lightning strike. I reminded him that only two months prior we had paid his company $150 to repair lightning damage to this system and that a month later we had paid an electrician to install a device that should protect the entire house from power surges. After discussing these, we decided that either another power surge had occurred between the time the system was repaired and the time the new surge protector was installed or else the new protector was somehow incorrectly installed and is causing problems, rather than preventing them.
We may yet have to call the electrician to come back to make some kind of a change, because of other problems, but the point is that, unknown to me, there had been a concealed problem in our security system. What if this had occurred when we were away on vacation? How would the police or our back-up people have shut off the alarm? Pulling the main power switch would not have done it because the back-up battery would have kept the alarm screeching until the battery ran down — perhaps for hours? or maybe even days? — I hate to think of the consequences.
I not only didn’t know that I had a problem, but I had no reason to be even thinking about the security system, much less praying about it. So how was the Lord going to show me that I had a problem?
Clearly the way He chose was very effective: Get me so shaken up that I goof up enough to do something that I would never do if I had not been so rattled — go out the wrong door and set off the security system.
Meanwhile, after quiet was restored, all the way to our friend’s house, Dorian and I were discussing where the keys might be, and I was recounting in detail all of my actions since the last time I knew I had the keys — but we didn’t find them until the friend’s husband got into the car and said “Whose keys are these?” I had placed them on the passenger’s seat of the Mercury the day before while I was getting into the glove compartment and had been sitting on them all the way to their house!!
The Lord works in mysterious ways, but I think they are mighty effective. Next time when you get into a serious problem, don’t be dismayed. Just ask the Lord what it is that He is trying to teach you.
— Louis G. Stang, Jr.