Sometimes strange things happen and we are left wondering if God is speaking to us in the most peculiar of ways. Something like this happened to me this morning. I was walking to work, a 35-40 minute stroll through parts of North Guildford. This is something I have taken to doing for just over a year now. I fill the time with a mixture of prayer, thinking through general issues in life and reviewing what the day ahead holds. This morning I was praying about three specific things, these were:
- Some challenges in my job. In particular a number of things that are important to me where I keep encountering a roadblock, usually other people slowing down something that I am trying to achieve.
- A book I am writing on the Psalms that has come together clearly in my mind, but I am frustrated with the difficulty I am having with my style of writing and the challenge of pitching it consistently for a specific readership.
- Thinking about how God speaks through the ordinary in a sacramental fashion – something that I am trying to work through theologically (Yes it is a little odd I know). This connects with 2.
I was praying about all three issues with the same basic question: Should I carry on tackling the roadblocks at work? Should I persist with something I want to do, where I feel inadequate for the task? How do I open my eyes to God speaking through the ordinary?
All three of these things received an answer in the most peculiar of ways. Having prayed and thought about these things for around 20 minutes, I realised I was walking faster than the person on the path ahead. I was unsure whether they had earphones (a common problem these days) and they were squarely in the middle of path such that I could not get past easily. As the path ahead went under a railway bridge, I could see that the wider path was perfect for passing by. As I overtook the woman, without turning her head she uttered the words: “Yeah, you carry right on” in a highly aggressive, almost threatening tone, that implied I had no option but to comply. The command, as I took it to be, was articulated with such menace, angst and anger that I had a sudden insight into the pain and bad experiences that had led to this response to a passing stranger.
Three strides later, I saw that the words uttered by this person, if taken as an answer in a very different tone, had the most peculiar resonance with my 20 minutes of questions. The voice of faith tells me to run with this answer, the muttering of reason tells me I have an overactive imagination. Whichever voice wins the debate, I can testify to the fact that today I have had three dramatic encouragements regarding prayer 1 (above) and an email that has promised direct help from an expert with prayer 2. Perhaps all this together, answer prayer 3?