Faithful Living: Godly surprise from left field

My experience with God this week was not planned nor initiated by me. Likewise, it was brief; ending almost as suddenly as it began.

It occurred Tuesday, as the birds awakened outside and sang to beat the band. When I realized I had awakened ahead of my alarm clock, I relished the thought of 30 more minutes of sleep. Yet, it was at that very moment, feeling weary and indecisive, that I heard the chorus and felt words that soothed my tired soul:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

I sat up in bed and smiled. It was one of those occasional moments I fondly refer to as a “left field” experience. They are quick, intense, and invigorating. Surprising, insightful, and energizing. They are also verbal, but I cannot physically hear them with my ears. If someone else were to see me they would not hear the sound I was hearing. Rather, the sounds and the words I “hear” reach down into my soul.

Best of all, left field experiences are soothing. That’s because I have come to understand that it’s God’s spirit moving and refreshing me when I lack the ability to move and refresh myself.

You may recognize this simple chorus. Written by Horacio Spafford in 1871 when he learned of the death of his daughters, this simple chorus helps to remind me that my soul remains whole even when my heart occasionally feels like it will break from worry and sadness.

Some days I get so busy I do not notice this indwelling. But when I hear music that praises God, when I sense an urgency to pray, when I detect something alarming and worrisome, and when I experience a “left field” moment, I know God is there. Deep inside.

There is nothing scary or strange about this relationship with God. It is amazing and private. It reminds me of a great promise God makes in the Bible: that when we are scared, tired, confused, not thinking clearly or find ourselves in any way incapacitated, God’s spirit will move and work within us, on our behalf. The great comfort of such a concept comes to me most strongly when I learn of great suffering, forcing me to ask God about His plan.

God is there at all moments. He is a God that not only nudges us to live better and higher, but also comforts us when we need a heavenly touch.

The key to such experiences, I believe, is to acknowledge your need for God. It requires that we take time to be quiet, unclutter our thoughts, and listen for God’s ideas. It also involves being extremely diligent about putting into your heart and soul good things so His goodness will capture your attention.

Such interaction sets into motion a relationship with God that will occasionally work independently of you -- to surprise, soothe and elevate your daily life.

Reach Joan Bay Klope at



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