Best Advice

“Pick someone in the room that you think God wants you to talk to.”

This wasn’t my usual Saturday morning, but I chose to attend a workshop to learn how to hear from heaven more acutely. I wasn’t the only one as there were probably fifty of us who had shown up. It seemed that we were willing to jump over some barriers to access higher abilities.

One of the mental hurdles I have had to overcome in this area is that I am “hearing voices”. That implies that this practice isn’t usual and should land one in a padded cell with a syringe plunged into the upper arm.

How many Hollywood productions have been made that depict a character who gets a bad nose bleed or excruciating headaches when they have otherworldly experiences? They spend most of their time clutching their foreheads and try not to hemorrhage. The brainwashing has been that if you have a gift to interact with the divine, you have to suffer physically or be super weird.

If you get past all that, bring on the poltergeist and dark forces ready to wreak havoc in your home. Who wants to tangle with an unruly spirit that will require an exorcism? Just because you went looking for answers, now you have to move.

If that doesn’t stop a person, then the sheer fact that the One who made everything would want to speak is somewhat staggering. Why would God want to take the time to talk to us? Isn’t that kind of presumptuous with all the trouble going on in the world?

Any one of those scenarios can keep us closed down and shut off.

I knew exactly who I was to speak to on that particular morning. The entire hour that we sat listening to the presenter talk about his experiences, my attention kept being directed to a woman across the room. It began with a slight nudge.

“Do you see the lady with the purple glasses?” the still, small voice whispered.

I scanned the attentive audience, and I saw her wearing reading glasses. It’s always subtle at first like that. It seems like it’s my idea to look up, but later I realize I was told to.

I focused back on what was being taught.

“Do you see her scarf? It matches her glasses.” Accesories are important.

As people began looking around to see who they should pair up with, I went right to her and said,

“I’m supposed to tell you something; I have no idea what it is.”

“I’m so relieved you came over. This is so hard for me to do, and I want to learn how to do it, but I’m a little scared.”

“I think we all aren’t totally comfortable with it, but we can try.”

She and I went to a quiet corner away from everyone else. We were given easy-to-follow instructions on how to get a message.

First, we were to ask what God wanted this person to know. Next, we were to ask for a specific verse if there was one and then to get a vision of what was needed. That sounds like a lot, but we were told we could do it, so the idea was to believe we could.

I started by asking the first question. Both of us shut our eyes, and she grabbed my right hand. I had to brush away the thought that I was with an absolute stranger. I didn’t know her even thirty minutes ago, but now I was to deliver important news from God.

“A special place has been prepared for you at the table,” I said. I could see her sitting in an elaborate venue, surrounded by others and being served. She looked relaxed with a radiant smile.

“Do you spend a lot of your time giving to others and not yourself?”

“Yes. I’m a pastor, and I’m always helping other people but not me.”

“Do you feel guilty when you take time for yourself?”

“Yes.”

“God wants you to know that you need to take time for yourself and let other people help you. You are burning yourself out trying to be nice.”

“You’re right,” she said quietly. Inwardly, I breathed a sigh of relief. I felt calm, but I had no idea if what I was saying would be accurate. To have her confirm it kept me going.

“I see you wondering if you can clean up the tables or get the other people something to drink. God says no. Sit down.”

She laughed.

“That’s me. Right when I start to enjoy myself, I think I have to jump up and do something, or I’m being lazy.”

“You aren’t giving yourself a break. You are going to break down. So listen to what is being said. God is telling you to rest. Let others serve you for once. You are supposed to enjoy life just like everyone else. You can be happy even when you aren’t working. Don’t let people take advantage of your kindness. Put up boundaries and have some balance. Otherwise, you aren’t going to be able to help anyone. You are going to start resenting the whole thing.”

When we opened our eyes, she got out a tissue to wipe away tears.

“It’s hard for me not to do it all for everyone all the time.”

“Do you ask for help?” How did I know to ask that? Because we had a lot in common.

“No. I try to do it all myself. I don’t like asking for help, and no one usually offers.”

“Then you have to ask, and don’t feel bad about it.”

“I will. I don’t want to burn myself out. I like what I do, so I don’t want to ruin it.”

Then it was her turn to be in the hot seat to see what I needed to hear. It took her a minute to pull herself together after what I had said.

She retook my hand, and we closed our eyes.

“God, what do you want Chris to know?”

I instantly saw myself sitting in a canoe drifting in a river. The sun was bright, no one else was around, and it was peaceful.

“Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest. God wants you to rest. I see you floating in a…a..a..” She paused like she couldn’t find the right word.

“Canoe?”

“Yes!” She said. “I didn’t want to say it was a boat because it isn’t.”

I saw everything before she said it, and when I would describe something, she saw it too.

“You are sitting in a..” She was at a loss for words again.

“Meadow? With flowers all around me?”

“Yes! And God wants you to rest and see the beauty of creation. Don’t be so busy that you don’t stop and see it.”

In the end, we walked away, no longer not knowing one another.

We didn’t have special powers come over us. There was no chanting in Latin involved or burning of incense. What did we do? We asked.

There are many sources of information available to all of us anytime we want. The news will tell you what’s going on. And usually, it’s not good. If by chance, you get Chinese food, a fortune cookie can be your guide. But that generally wears off and doesn’t provide a lot of depth.

I recall having a Magic Eight Ball when I was a kid. I would think of a question and shake the heck out of it, hoping for the answer I wanted to hear. Through the little window, the smoky blue water would reveal words on the plastic triangle inside. The worst result was: Answer Unknown. How frustrating is that? I wasn’t any further ahead in life with that response! It proved to be unreliable, leaking all over the place, and it got tossed.

I realized that after taking the class that it’s vital to be able to hear on a level that is above the physical to benefit myself when I cannot sleep and I don’t understand a difficulty I am up against. Another advantage is to use it when bringing comfort to others. It’s amazing to speak something that immediately brings relief to another. You know it isn’t you, but it is straight from heaven.

You can begin to apply this from Jeremiah 33:3:

Call to me, and I will answer you and tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (ESV)

Then there’s a bonus thrown in if you do:

How happy you are to believe that the Lord’s message to you will come true! (Luke 1:45, Good News Translation)

When you take the time to get quiet and ask for answers, it builds your confidence and boosts your mood; it changes your mindset and strengthens the bond between you and the unseen realm. And just like anything else that you give a priority in your day, it becomes easier to execute.

Soon, you will only want to seek that which offers you something of great return like nothing else can. You won’t want to settle for anything that leaves you feeling unfulfilled and empty. You don’t have to chase it down like a crazy person, thinking that others have the answers for your life. And you come to know that God directly gives the best advice.

(THEN WHAT?!)

Watched Over

Throughout the years, I have tried to heal my relationship issues with money. I have attempted to keep gratitude journals where I have been known to write: Nothing bad happened today.

I saw this as a good thing to be thankful for, as simple as it was.

Another thing I did was I started writing thank you on the back of every payment I sent out. It reminded me I was paying someone’s wage to help them afford their mortgage or meals for their kids. I even sent my regards to the IRS when I mailed in my quarterly estimated taxes. I drew a smile on the envelope to add to the positivity. Did I mean it? I am not sure, but they say if you do the action, the feelings might show up later.

I have done money drops where I would take cash and encouraging notes and place them for the unsuspecting to find. I stuffed them into diaper boxes at the store, left them in bathroom stalls at the airport and in books at the library.

While all that was fun, it still didn’t do much to reverse this lack mindset that had been ingrained in me since childhood, where money was the root of all evil. If anything good came my way, it was pure luck and not to expect anything.

I recall at age seven opening a birthday card with money and saying to my mom in front of a relative,

“You can’t use this for new socks this time!”

I was catching on to what the green bills meant and how they were being taken away from me. I remember she looked slightly embarrassed. I was always challenging her frugal approach to life. Something inside of me knew that her view of things was slightly off.

When she was making her grocery list one day, I said I wanted something.

“It’s not on my list, Chris.”

She had her head down, writing out this massive novel of needed items. I didn’t understand the tight rope she was on trying to make it all work. I was tired of this worn out answer she always gave me.

“Just put it on your list,” I said, thinking this was the most brilliant idea that she had never thought of.

She looked at me and started laughing. That was not the response I was hoping for, so I one-upped her and scribbled out what I wanted onto her overloaded piece of paper when she left it unattended.

“Here,” she said to my shock while she handed me the item after she returned from the store. She hid her list after that.

If I had holes in my clothes, which was inevitable because they were never new, she would stitch them or put a patch on them. She taught me to wear something until it literally fell off my body and was paper-thin from the wash.

The message was continually sent that we could not afford anything, so get used to it. After years of that, it’s no wonder I have struggled to believe I could have it better.

Having a divorce thrown in on top of that didn’t help either, which only took my uncertainty up a notch.

At the same time, I picked up on the idea to give away things to help others. My street is busy, so if I need to get rid of anything, I set it out at night, and it disappears by dawn. I have had people come to my door asking if I meant for the items to be free because they are in good shape. I have given away tables, children’s items, and everything else under the sun. Someone always needs it more than I do.

The other day I cleaned my room and came across yet another experiment that I tried in 2014. I decided to write down every good thing that happened to me for the year and placed the notes in a jar.

When I read through them, I could still see that part of me was wanting to believe that what I learned as a kid wasn’t true. I realized the progress I had made between then and now, which that in itself is worth it.

And I discovered something else. God has been faithful. Even during the most challenging times, I still never got down to my last dime, even though I sometimes skated close to that. I always had ideas come to me on how to manage, and multiple people stepped in at times to save the day unknowingly.

I wrote everything, including the tiniest detail, like finding $2 at the mall. As I have let God cure me of my money trauma, the worries have faded, and I can handle the unexpected a lot better than I used to.

At one time, if I got a bill in the mail, I would obsess over it so much that I would miss out on something more substantial, like a daughter’s birthday. I would be present in the body, but my mind was whirling, figuring out how to meet that obligation. The first time I realized I wasn’t doing that anymore was a significant milestone for me.

And where did all that fretting get me? Nowhere. I wish I had known this verse from 2 Corinthians 9:8:

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (NLT)

I cannot overlook the fact that this was passed down to me from someone I trusted and was looking to for answers about life. So, if you are acting like this, your children are watching and will repeat your mistakes. That was a huge reason for me to correct this in myself because I don’t want my girls to be mentally tormented as I have been.

One day in the middle of the pasta aisle, my youngest daughter couldn’t take it anymore.

“Get the organic one.”

“It’s more expensive.”

“It’s a quarter more! Get it! It’s better for us than the other one!”

I held each jar. She was sending lasers with her eyes and I knew I wasn’t going home with the cheaper one. My final fight with her was over cheese, and I said,

“You know what? I am no longer at the age where I can waste my time arguing with someone over dairy products, so fine! I will get the one you want me to, and move on!”

That started me on a new road to buying healthier options.

I used to try to skimp by on everything as much as I could. God met me in that place and provided because that is how it works. I don’t do that anymore, but if something comes along that I know has been discounted to make me feel heaven’s presence, that’s another story.

Today, my friend had breast cancer surgery. It was particularly tough because her fiance, Dan, went on to heaven last winter. He had cancer for nine years and had defied all odds. He often nudges me to buy her orange flowers, and anytime I bring them to her, she has always prayed and asked for them as a sign that he is near.

I went into the store and had that persistent thought to get flowers from her heavenly husband. I knew what color they had to be, but I didn’t know if they would have any. I had made up my mind to get her a bunch, and I didn’t care what the cost was.

In the floral department, I found three big bouquets set apart from all the rest. Of course, and he never makes me guess but always directs me to them. I thought I saw a clearance price, but I wasn’t sure, so they rang up really low when I ran them through the self-checkout.

“Is this right?” I asked the employee standing nearby.

“Yes, we got a big over shipment of flowers that we had to sell. Those are really pretty.”

A blessing had found me when I least expected it.

I spent next to nothing for them when I was prepared to empty my bank account to ensure she knew how much she is watched over.