One day, it dawned on me that God’s my best friend. Here about my journey to that revelation here.
“He looked up and said, ‘I see people; they look like trees walking around.’”
Just before this observation, Jesus had healed the blind man by spitting on his eyes and placing his hands on him. When Jesus asked the blind man what he saw, and the man responded, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
I never understood why he said this. Why did he compare them to trees out of all the other plants and objects he could choose?
One day, I understood: The blind man called people trees because when he was healed by Jesus, he gained the eyesight of God and saw people just as God does.
As I thought about this, I remembered the time earlier this year when I asked God how He sees me. He reminded me of Isaiah 61, one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. In verse three, people are called “oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” I pictured an oak of righteousness in my mind, and it was a glorious strong, oak with a large trunk and might, leafy branches that extend to the sky. This tree is planted along streams of living water that bring it nourishment and life, and the longer the tree rests by the waters, the deeper its roots go and the stronger the roots become. I realized in that moment that that’s how God sees me, and that I should see people the way He does, just like the blind man called people trees walking around when the Lord restored his sight.
To me, these oaks of righteousness are pictures of perfection. On earth, we will never be perfect, but God still views us as these beautiful creations, despite all the wrong things we do or the limitations we place on ourselves because of our past, age, appearance or physical ailments. To God, those things aren’t limitations, and He will use them for His glory. Oaks of righteousness represent what God knows we can become if only we lean into Him and absorb His goodness into our lives.
The more I realize how wonderful the Lord’s thoughts towards me are, the more I want to shake off the earthly notions I have of myself and other people, put on the Lord’s perspective and walk through life seeing all the potential that exists in people. My friends, family members and coworkers may not see themselves they way God does, but with eyes like the Lord’s perhaps I can show them what the Lord sees.
I handed a card to a tall guy with thick, black glasses and smiled. Katie invited him to DC Metro. He asked if we meant the church around the corner from the metro stop, and Katie and I said yes. “I attend that church,” he said. “I found out about it because my family and I were at the carpenter’s shelter. I go to the 9 am service, but my mom can’t go because she works.”
We chatted some more, and as the conversation started to fade, and I sensed God nudge me. “Ask Treveon if he wants to pray,” He said. I fought the idea for a second because there were a lot of people milling about, but I heard it again, “Ask him if he wants prayer.”
The conversation stopped, and Treven adjusted his bag and turned a little, like he was getting ready to go. “Trevon, do you want to pray?” I asked. Immediately, Trevon’s face lit up. “Yes,” he said. I asked him if there was anything in particular that he wanted to pray about, and he told me a few things. Trevon, Katie and I joined hands to pray. I prayed that Trevon’s mom would be able to come to church with him, and that her work schedule would change so that she could spend more time at church. I prayed that God would provide for his family, keep them safe and give them a peaceful, restful place to live. After that, Trevon headed home.
Since Wednesday, I thought about Trevon and his family off and on. I prayed that they were doing okay. This morning, after the 9 am church service, I headed upstairs to get coffee, and I saw Trevon. I looked a second time because I didn’t really think it was him. He saw me, and gave me a big smile, “Hey!” he said. “Guess who’s with me!” He turned, and introduced me to his mom and sister.
“We prayed for you guys!” I said. “I’m so glad you could make it.” I smiled, shook his mom’s hand, and said hi to his sister. His mom said this is the last time she’ll be able to make it because of her work schedule, but in my head I thought, “We’ll be praying about that.”
Later, I bumped into Katie. “I saw Trevon!” we said at the same time. We smiled, with an unspoken agreement that God is good, God is real and God answers prayers.
Meeting Trevon brought to mind the times God has nudged over the past month and a half. Sometimes He wants me to ask someone if they want prayer, send an email with an encouraging verse or give someone a special word of encouragement. Sometimes, I’d evaluate the nudges, and sometimes I didn’t act right away. But even if a few days passed, I always back tracked and followed through. Each time God revealed himself. He encouraged people with what He had to say, and He also encouraged me. I feel like He’s saying, “You do hear me. Much clearer than you know. Stop doubting because there’s a lot I want to share with people.”
When I was praying one evening, I sensed that God wanted me to surrender something I believe He’s promised to me. I felt myself letting it go, and eventually, I realized that it was no longer in my possession. “Where did it go?” I asked the Lord. “I can feel that it isn’t there anymore. I kind of miss it. I kind of want it back.”
As I thought these things, God gave me a picture. A small jewel with a flickering light inside was attached to the end of a chain. God slowly pulled this necklace up to heaven, hand over hand. I saw this in my mind’s eye, and wondered, “Where is it going? Why is God taking it away, up into the sky?” I knew that if God was taking it, He would keep the promise under His protection, but I still didn’t understand why the promise was returning to Him. Hadn’t the Lord given it to me? Wasn’t it mine to keep?
I pondered and prayed about the meaning of this picture for a few days. I thought about the promise, and how a few years ago, I asked the Lord to use it as an example of Christ’s love. That’s what I wanted more than anything else. I realized that if I wanted God’s promise to bring Him glory, the promise really isn’t mine. It’s the Lord’s. That’s why He pulled the jewel back into heaven, to show that the promise is His and to attract the gaze of many. When something fills the sky, it becomes a beacon. That beacon catches the attention of people walking to and fro on the earth, and they look to the sky, similar to the way fireworks causes crowds to stop and stare. With their necks craned toward the sky, their only focus is the fireworks. When God gets the glory, it should occur in a vertical fashion, with all praise, honor and attention reflected upward. All eyes are on the heavens.
When you let God grab ahold of your day, you can’t predict what will happen. September 23 began like a normal Saturday. I woke up around eight or so, and a little after nine, I went running. When I headed out the door and ran down the street, I suddenly felt like I couldn’t run anymore. I thought God wanted me to turn around and go back home, so I went around the block and ended up cleaning my bathroom, vacuuming, washing my hair and going out for lunch with my roommate.
That afternoon, I had a reunion with a college friend and a scavenger hunt that was followed by dinner, and as I prepared for those events, I realized I didn’t know what to wear because the fall weather was fickle. A friend of mine asks God what to wear when he can’t decide, so I thought I’d try it. I asked God to show me what to put on, and as I stared at my closet, He highlighted my favorite college sweatshirt. I grabbed it and put it in my car.
That night I ended up giving my friend a ride home. After I dropped her off and drove to my house, I passed through an area where the speed limit is 25 mph and cameras are strategically placed to catch lawbreakers. As I drove through that zone, I watched my speedometer, determined to avoid a ticket. When I passed that area, I started to speed up, but I sensed God tell me, “Go the exact speed limit.” I watched the needle, and did my best to keep it at the 25 mph mark. As I did that, God ministered to my heart. He told me to go the speed limit He sets for my life, to speak when He says speak and only when I am confident I am giving the right answer, which is something I have not done recently.
I continued to drive, and while it was hard to go that slow when there were few people on the road, it was rather nice. I wasn’t rushing, I didn’t feel anxious and I enjoyed the ride. As I gazed at my surroundings, a fire in front of someone’s garage caught my attention. My mind paused for a second.
I wondered if anyone else had spotted the fire, but I decided that I couldn’t hope that someone would stop. I turned left at the next light, went around the block and ended up at a red light. I needed to make a left hand turn. I stared at the light, wondering if this was an acceptable time to break the law. I looked for red light cameras, and since I didn’t see one, I took the risk, and turned left on red. I parked across the street from the house, and looked at the garage door. It was a real fire.
Phone in hand, I got out of my car. “Do I call 911?” I thought to myself as I crossed the street. “The fire is small. I’d feel silly calling 911.” I looked at the scene. There were four trash bags and a cheap black plastic pot filled with mulch, which was the only part on fire, lined up in front of the garage door. There may have been a plant in the pot, but there was no way to know. I started to panic. “What do I do?”
I decided to see if someone was home and walked to the front door. I didn’t see a doorbell, so I used the doorknocker. WHACK WHACK WHACK. I listened for someone inside. There was no answer. WHACK WHACK WHACK. I listened again. No one was coming.
I went back to the fire, and stared at it. “What do I do, God? What do I do?” Suddenly, I remembered my favorite sweatshirt, which was in the backseat of my car. I raced down the driveway, looked both ways, crossed the street, unlocked my car, grabbed the sweatshirt, shut the door, booked it to the flaming mulch and paused for one second. I wondered if this was really happening to me. Where was the rest of the world?
I started to beat out the fire with my sweatshirt. The flames extinguished easily, and as the last bit went out, I paused again with the sensation that I had seen something similar in a movie. “What do I do now?” It didn’t feel right to just leave the scene, so I knocked on the door again. No one was home. I walked back to the smoking mulch and glowing embers, realizing that I couldn’t just leave the pile to ignite again. I imagined hearing about a house engulfed in flames on news the next day, and didn’t want that on my conscience. I stamped on the pile with my foot, hoping to kill as many embers as possible. How was I going to put out the fire?
“I need water.” I thought to myself. “Where am I going to get water?” I looked at the attached townhouse and thought about knocking on the door, but I decided against the idea. It was almost 10:30 pm, the house was dark and I didn’t want an encounter with strangers. “God what am I going to do? What do I do?”
I looked down at the ground that separated the two town homes, and there was a hose. I chuckled at the instant provision, and bent down, hoping that the hose had a nozzle that was easy to use. I was so glad that I didn’t struggle to turn it on, and in just a few seconds, I put out the last of the fire. I gave the burnt mulch an extra squirt just in case it decided to ignite again, put the hose back, cut off the water and turned around to stare the pile of mulch. I found it strange that only the mulch had caught on fire and that none of the white trash bags beside it had.
Suddenly, I was aware of the time and that I was standing in front of a stranger’s house. The night seemed late, and though my mind was awake, I felt very tired. I walked back to my car, realizing I had left it unlocked when I ran back to grab my sweatshirt. What if someone had taken my car or hurt me? I shook off the idea, got in the car, locked the door, buckled my seatbelt and drove away.
On the way home, I realized that if I hadn’t gone the speed limit, it is very likely that I would have missed the fire. If I hadn’t listened to God and circled the block, what would have happened? What would have happened if I hadn’t volunteered to drop my friend off? What would I have used to extinguish the flames if I hadn’t asked God what to wear that morning?
I don’t think I want to know the answers to those questions. I do know, however, know that there is great value in following God’s lead. His pace is perfect, and with His guidance and a keen ear for His directions, He will lead you where you are needed. You will arrive just at the right time to do whatever it is that He has called you to do.