Category Archives: Coincidence or Godincidence?

Adventures in Flowing in God, Part 3

In Part 2, I learned to allow myself to relax, to get quiet and let go of stress. I was learning to sail. I invited God to reveal Himself to me and open my heart to His presence. I was becoming more focused and aware of Him.  

God continues to surprise

God is always filled with surprises. For those of you who are skeptical, remember, we did not beforehand know which exit to take. Without either a global positioning system (GPS) or roadmap, we had to tune into God’s Positioning Spirit to get where we were going.

While I was the one who wanted to get to Sedona to see the various vacation spots, and Peggy more along for the “ride”, God had treats in store for her. After sundown, on our return trip back to our accommodations in Scottsdale, we pulled off for gas at exit 289. Remember? This was the other exit that God dropped in my ear.

Exit 289 conveniently had a Sonic Drive-Thru, Peggy’s favorite place for a peach iced tea with lime wedges. There happened to be a casino at this exit as well. Continuing our adventure of flowing in God, Peggy asked, “Wanna have a little fun with a couple of bucks?”  We are not gamblers; in fact, I can’t remember the last time I’d been to a casino. And this was totally out of character for my chaplain wife.

Peggy, a bit unsettled and nervous about entering the gambling hall and feeling a little like Dorothy entering the chamber of the Wizard of Oz, dug her hand into my arm. “Slots, poker, and gambling, Oh My!”  “Slots, poker and gambling, Oh My!” 

The room was dimly lit and smelled of cigarette smoke. There was a sound of jangly music and the whir of spinning reels accompanied by loud beeps, bells and chimes from the gaming machines as people played their nickels and quarters. It was a cacophony of noises and smells that invaded and offended our senses. As we observed those playing the machines, with cigarettes between their fingers and lips, they seemed to stare mindlessly, without emotion, mesmerized by the brightly lit and colorful gaming monitors. In contrast, we were a breath of fresh air – figuratively, literally and spiritually.

On occasion, there was a happy and celebratory combination of flashing lights and sounds when a machine announced a winning combination. But more often than not, slot machines just took people’s money. Looking at the player’s facial expressions, depression seemed most pervasive amongst those hypnotized by the sounds, entrenched in their addiction to gambling.

Peggy and I were carefree about losing $5 and had resolved to walk away, win or lose. However, we agreed that if we did win, any winnings would go to our church offering.

I didn’t immediately enter into the flow or spontaneously hear from God when Peggy asked me which slot machine we should play.  So, in my delay, she randomly picked one and played 4 quarters and lost them all. 

This time we re-grouped, huddled, prayed and asked God to pick a machine. The slot machines were all numbered. What number machine do you hear?” Peggy asked.  “I don’t know,” and then blurted out “395!”  We located machine 395 and agreed to “play another dollar.”

I stood for the first spin, not having fun yet. The machine remained in a quiet state of rest without flashing lights or music as none of the three reels lined up. To win, all three reels must match. “Oh, well.”  This time I eased myself into the chair facing the slot machine. “A quarter down and three to go,” I said to Peggy, who was peering over my shoulder.  I spun for a second time, and gloriously three reels matched. It was a double payout win!  I perked up, having a little fun now. On the third spin, again, “clang, clang, clang, clang!” the machine happily announced. We just won another double payout!  The happy clanging noise and flashing lights again lifted my spirits. Peggy was doing the “Happy Dance.”  We now had one more spin remaining. On our last spin, the machine went quiet again, but I was on a winning streak. All in all, the machine returned $5.00 for our one dollar. “That was fun!” I boyishly exclaimed. Peggy got the distinct impression from my jubilation that I was connecting with God. This was now just me and Papa time. Clearly, God the Father was wanting to show me personally a fun time, something which had been cut short in my life having lost my dad at age 11. He was restoring to me, even in this unlikely place, that which was lost, a part of my broken heart.

The joy and smile on my face spoke volumes. I was alert and ready this time when she asked, “What machine is God telling you now?” My first spontaneous thought was 350. There were six slot machines numbered 350-1, -2, -3, -4. etc. I faintly heard Papa say “350-3.” I wasn’t sure, but I would go with it. Peggy also heard the number 3.  So, we agreed to play another dollar. This time slot machine 350-3 returned a DOUBLE payout, for our 4 spins.  The total earnings between the two machines were $9.75. I know you’re probably thinking whoop-de-doo, woo-hoo; but it really was a big deal. Typically, odds are stacked against gamblers in favor of the house winning, but in God’s house, the odds were stacked doubly in our Favor!

Now, don’t misunderstand, I am not condoning gambling. This was an exercise in spontaneous flow, stretching, listening, trusting, pressing in and practicing hearing Papa God, not just on big things, but also the small, even unorthodox things. He was teaching us to listen, to trust, to obey and to have fun.

Our adventures were more than we hoped or imagined, more than a thrill-seeking ride at an amusement park, and to think we can live this adventure daily!  He cares for us. So, drop everything and listen to his voice! (Psalm 95:7, TPT). Are you ready to let go and let God?  I AM.

PREVIOUS LINKS:
Adventures in Flowing in God, Part 1
Adventures in Flowing in God, Part 2

Copyright 2020 by Bill Hutzel & Peggy Castorri-Hutzel

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Adventures in Flowing in God, Part 2

Hearing from God should be just like sailing. How many of you row instead of sail?  Unlike rowing a boat that relies on our own strength, sailing is near effortless. God wants us to hear him effortlessly so that our soul will live. “Give ear and come to me” (Isaiah 55:3).  

You can learn to hear God’s Spirit speak.  In terms of our metaphor of rowing and sailing, you can learn to hear God’s voice conversationally by aligning your sail to catch the Holy Spirit’s wind. Things can then happen in our life that would otherwise not be possible by our “rowing” our way to hearing Him.

Learning how God speaks to us, however, takes practice and guidance, just like learning how to sail. We need to learn to focus, listen, discern and respond. You may need some help with quieting your mind. For some of us, our minds go a mile a minute. Crazy-busy thoughts infiltrate our minds not letting us have a moment’s peace. We are all over-scheduled, over-committed and over-extended. This makes it difficult to hear God’s still quiet voice above the noise level.

Learning to flow in God

You will recall from Part 1 of our story; my wife Peggy got this brilliant notion it would be fun to tune into hearing God tell us where to go. “Let’s see if we can get the same number exit as a way of hearing in unity,” Peggy said. It was an exercise in spontaneous flow, stretching, listening, trusting, pressing in and practicing hearing Papa God, not just on big things, but also the small, even unorthodox things. He was teaching me to listen, to trust, to obey and to have fun.

We still had miles to drive and plenty of time to sit and wonder what would be in store for us at exit 298. As each exit passed, my anticipation built.  And then suddenly I sat straight up from my reclining position. “Look!” Exit 289, Montezuma’s Castle, was one of our planned vacation stops. Remember?” Exit 289 was the other exit number I heard after recanting 298. Perhaps this was not a coincidence. Encouraged, I adjusted my seat forward and said, “On to exit 298.” 

We were committed to taking Exit 298 despite my questioning and doubts. Signs for exit 298 began to come into sight, and we burst out in a big shout!

Exit 298 was absolutely THEE correct exit for Sedona.


For those of you who are skeptical, remember, we did not beforehand know which exit to take. Without either a global positioning system (GPS) or roadmap, we had to tune into God’s Positioning Spirit to get where we were going.

God showed up despite my doubts. How incredible is that!? Jeremiah 29:11 says that it was not my plans but his. “I have it all planned out. Plans to take care of you, not abandon you.”  And God did hear and answer. “You will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear your voice and I will listen to you” (Jeremiah 29:12). Not only did he listen, but he also acted on our desires to hear him and guide us. Jeremiah 29:13 says “When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”  How cool is that!? And I surely wasn’t disappointed. Overjoyed and more confident I wanted to go deeper with God; I wanted to continue on our adventure.  “Okay God, now where?” 

When we exited the highway, Peggy asked – “What are you hearing, right or left?”  We both heard left. The song Jesus Take the Wheel took on greater significance. “Every time there is a choice for a turn – let’s ask God,” Peggy said.

Upon approaching a roundabout, we had to make a quick decision to go left, right, or straight. My mind froze momentarily. Initially, I heard “go left,” but quickly changed it to “go straight” as that seemed the most logical considering that traffic flow around the circle was mostly going in that direction. Peggy heard God say, “turn left.”  So, in unity, we turned left.

The left turn directed us into a lovely neighborhood. Each home was a unique adobe style home with classic red ceramic tile roofs, shades of green and brown and set against red rock cliffs. It was absolutely beautiful.

When leaving the neighborhood, we came to an intersection. Straight ahead and across the highway about one mile, sitting at the base of a 1,500-foot cliff surrounded by massive pieces of red sandstone, was the Chapel of the Holy Cross, another spot on our list.  

Wisdom’s guidance

Were it my plan, going straight would have been the most obvious choice, a more direct route to the town of Sedona.

Although, had we not made the left turn and all subsequent turns yielding to God’s Positioning Spirit (GPS), we would have missed seeing Chapel of the Holy Cross. God is such a loving and kind Father to have taken us there.

How often do we make plans that are not His? How often do we not consult God and charge ahead with our own plans?  How often do we miss out on what God wants to reveal to us on the off-roads because we are not listening to His voice? 

When we trust the Lord completely without regard for preconceived notions and plans and rely on Him to guide us, He will lead us in every decision we make; He will lead us wherever we go (Proverbs 16:9). Further, intimacy with God opens the door to hear Him. Whether we turn to the right or to the left, our ears will hear His voice saying, “this is the way” (Isaiah 30:21).

God has a wonderful plan for you. Perhaps it is a road that you might not have taken?  How will you make sure that you are on the right path? Once you are on that path, how will you stay on it?  The Lord longs to be gracious to you (Isaiah 30:18). He longs to show loving-kindness to you and bless you. So, don’t rush off in your own direction. Ask God about it first.

Continue reading “Part 3 Adventures in Flowing in God

PREVIOUS LINKS:
Adventures in Flowing in God, Part 1

Copyright 2020
by Bill Hutzel & Peggy Castorri-Hutzel

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Adventures in Flowing in God, Part 1

What if you believed hearing from God could actually be fun? This beckons the question – do you believe God can speak to you? No, I don’t mean just through his Word through interpretation of Scripture, but instead, like Moses, Abraham, and Paul, who heard His voice. If He does still speak to us today, then how? When? Where? Maybe you are like me. I needed to put these questions to the test.

Pressing in and listening to God

I wanted to see Sedona Red Rocks, however, the day started out with clouds and light rain, not a perfect day for sight-seeing. Wavering on where to go or what to do, Peggy, my wife, got this brilliant notion that it would be fun to tune into spontaneous flow and ask God where to go. By flow, I mean she wanted God to speak directly through his spirit to our spirits, to lead us where he wanted us to go without a predefined plan or a GPS. Proverbs 3:5-6 says “With all your heart rely on him to guide you and …. become intimate with him in whatever you do, and he will lead you wherever you go.”  This may not make any human sense at first because to most of us, natural things are more real than the supernatural. But as you will see, if you shut out all distractions and put your spirit first, it becomes easier to be led by the Spirit of God.

At first, I resisted. “Are you kidding!?”, I thought, not taking Peggy seriously. Turn off the GPS?  Who knows where we might end up?  For miles, you could see nothing but prairie, grasslands, desert and giant 5-ton saguaro cacti standing 40-feet tall like sentinels.

Contrary to her whims, I just wanted to see Sedona.

“Let’s ask God where he wants us to go,” Peggy said. “Uh-huh,” I replied unenthusiastically, not taking the exercise too seriously, and then returned to looking out the window as she steered the car up interstate highway 17 at 75 miles per hour with the windows and roof open in our luxury rental car, a 2019 Jaguar.

When we booked the rental, we asked for an economy car, but apparently, God had already gone ahead and arranged for an upgrade.  “Expect Upgrades” Peggy heard in a revelation during a business trip to Brazil in October of 2018. And so, we got upgraded from a no-frills low budget vehicle to a luxury Jaguar at no additional cost!!

As the car sped along with windows down and the sunroof open, and miles and miles of desert and giant saguaro cacti, I started to fall into a transitional state between wakefulness and sleep. As I began to nod, I began to form a mental image of hundreds to thousands of cacti with their arms raised towards heaven worshiping their creator. Psalm 148:5 says “Let all of creation erupt with praise to God.” 

A desert is a place of solitude, silence and stillness. Perhaps, this is why Jesus regularly withdrew into the desert, to hear God. I knew, too, that I had to get alone in my mind, free of unrelenting chatter and noise, and become still if I was to hear God and come into unity with Peggy and God’s Spirit.

Suddenly I was startled from my half-awake, half-asleep state.  “Bill, I’m serious, let’s ask God where He wants us to go. Ask Him for an exit number and let’s see if we get the same one as an exercise in hearing in Unity.” “What!?” I said half dazed.  “What exit number did you hear God speak?” This wasn’t resonating with me. Besides, how could God or why would God bother to tell us which exit to take?  How would we get to where we wanted to go without a road map or GPS, I reasoned? 

 “Bill, don’t you believe it?” “C’mon,” she said pleadingly.  I tried to avoid the question, although I admit, I do believe God can do anything. Reminded of the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to me through faith (Ephesians 1:19), I knew this was true, but this seemed a might bit trivial. Didn’t God have more important things to do?

Trying to brush off the question I humored Peggy and mumbled “Um, okay, exit 101,” and went back to looking out the window. As I set my reclining seat further back, I folded my arms and closed my eyes.

 “You don’t believe it, do you?” she asked as if it were a statement of fact. But I reasoned, what person in their right mind would turn off their GPS to listen to God for driving directions?  This was totally out of my comfort zone.  Admittedly, I also had some bedfellows tag along for the ride – doubt, fear, and unbelief. 

“Where is your faith to believe?”  “Stop doubting!” Peggy said. “We’re already in the 200’s going North. C’mon. Listen again.” 

We were one of just a couple of vehicles on a long stretch of highway when a car passed us in the passing lane. “Wow, did you see that license plate!?” Peggy asked excitedly.  “It said SKPTIC!!!”  “No, I didn’t see it, I’m not paying attention.” Peggy gunned the car, switching lanes in order to show me the license plate. Now traveling at more than 75 miles an hour, I was startled out of my comfort zone. “Whoa! Slow down” I said. “Don’t ride this guy’s tail!”. “It’s okay,” she said, not concerned in the least. “Do you see it now?” Irritated, I said, “no, my vision is blurry.”  I just didn’t want to admit to having seen it. How uncanny, that the God of the entire Universe (with more important things to do, I reasoned) would send precisely at that moment, a passing car with the license plate that screamed “DOUBTER!”  God’s gavel came down at that very moment. I was convicted of my unbelief. But in retrospect, Peggy’s challenge to me to hear God for the improbable, caused me to stretch and confront my doubt and unbelief, even though it seemed irrational.

“Bill, He loves you so much that He sent this exact car at this precise moment, with that exact license plate to personally stretch you and communicate to you of His greatness and love for you.  Bill, even in the smallest things He wants us to be amazed by Him and his devotion towards us. He loves you so much.”  This was a whole new experience of trusting and listening to God.

“Wanna play, now?” Peggy asked.
I agreed to play and spontaneously blurted out “298!” 
“What was that?”
I hesitated, second-guessing my reply. Did I really hear God, or was it all in my head? Challenged that I might be wrong, I recanted 298 and said “289.” 

Peggy was really taking flowing in God seriously. “So, which is it? 298 or 289?”  I wavered, and reverted back to my initial answer, “298.”

She remained silent momentarily, then responded, “It’s not the same number I got, but I heard God say to trust your exit number.”  Incredulously, I thought, trust me?  God must have a sense of humor. 

It was decided, then, we would take exit 298. And, so began our adventure in flowing in God in unity and trust.

Find out what exit 298 has in store. Continue reading “Adventures in Flowing in God, Part 2

Copyright 2020
by Bill Hutzel & Peggy Castorri-Hutzel

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Go Deeper Lord – A Rooftop Experience

It was the early morning of our final day with the Global Awakening mission team that Peggy took the elevator to the rooftop where in quiet confidence she sang her passionate praises to God. 

The air was chilly, yet as a symbolic act of immersing herself in God’s living waters, Peggy stepped into the cold water of the rooftop pool and raised her arms by her sides as an expression of worship.  “Awake, O my soul with the music of his splendor, Arise, my soul, and sing his praises!” And so, there she awakened the dawn with her worship and greeted the daybreak with songs of light.

As a further symbolic act of going deeper in the Lord, she then fully submerged herself under the water seeking God’s deeper and higher calling, wherein His sanctuary she would find greater intimacy with God and hear Him speak in holy splendor words of promise. Shivers ran down her spine and throughout her entire body as the cold water startled her to the surface to gasp for air, and if she were not fully awake yet, she surely was now.  

It was also around the same time, just before sunup that I retreated to the rooftop to have my devotions. In my quiet time, I received a God Wink when I opened my Bible to a bookmarked page. The bookmark was a flash card in Portuguese with English translation. On it, it said, “Va mais fundo Senhor” which translated means “Go deeper Lord.” The card, also not coincidentally, bookmarked Psalm 108 where it speaks of our passionate praises, and of awakening the dawn with our worship and of God’s extravagant love which reaches higher than the heavens.

God was calling us, but not only to go deeper, but higher. “Your faithfulness is so astonishing it stretches to the skies!” (Psalm 108:4)

Va mais fundo Senhor! Go deeper Lord!

Copyright 2019 by Bill Hutzel

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Letter To A Friend … A Most Unusual Recipient

 

This is a most unusual story. One of my class assignments last semester was to write a letter to a friend as part of an online course I was taking on inner healing.  I didn’t know who I would write to or what I would write or what to expect from such an assignment, but I needed to come up with someone in short order because my assignment was due in 4-days.

Sunday morning during my quiet time, as I was thinking about my friend (whom I will refer to as Sam for the purpose of anonymity), the Holy Spirit spoke to me “Bill, Sam is dying.”  Surely not! I thought. I listened again, and the Holy Spirit repeated a couple more times, “Sam is dying.” So, I immediately called Sam, but there was no answer.  I left a message.

Later that day, not Sam, but his daughter returned my call. She informed me that Sam was in the hospital and that they did not know what was wrong with him, he had collapsed 5 times over the last couple of days before being admitted. His prognosis looked grim. Peggy and I decided we would go and visit him on Tuesday.  It was at that moment that I knew God wanted me to write my “Letter to a Friend” to Sam.

Tuesday, we started our drive to Greenwich Hospital with my letter in hand.  During the last 10-minutes of our 2-hour drive, his wife Mary called and said that Sam had just “expired.” What do we do now?  Do we go back home after traveling this far? Do we minister to his wife instead? My assignment was to write a letter to a friend, and now Sam was dead! I thought to myself, “there are no guidelines for reading my class assignment to someone who is deceased.”

What next?  Instead of chickening out and driving back home, Peggy and I decided to go to the hospital anyway. Upon arriving, I thought to myself “why am I here?” What am I doing this for? Is it just to fulfill an assignment?

Third floor, please. The elevator doors opened, and we timidly walked the hallway towards Sam’s hospital room. Then, looking to Peggy, I sought eye contact and desperately wanted confirmation if I was to read my letter to Sam or just hand it to his wife. I felt very uncomfortable, to say the least. Peggy, however, assured me it was okay to ask Mary’s permission to read my letter to him. “I think we are here for a purpose.”

Outside of the room, we greeted Mary with a hug and our condolences.  I explained my desire to share a letter I had written to my friend. Sensing my compassion and burden for Sam, she granted me permission, recognizing that Sam and I had a special Godly relationship.

We entered the room. Mary stood near the foot of Sam’s bed while her brother stood some distance off but within earshot. Sam’s skin was a light shade of yellow and ashen, his mouth open, eyes nearly shut, all signs of life gone. Sam had not officially been pronounced dead yet, although it was quite noticeable. His body lay lifeless for more than 20 to 30 minutes before our arrival.

With Peggy on one side of the bed and me on the other, I read my “Letter to a Friend.” I was saddened and tearful as I read my letter to Sam. There were times when I hesitated, my voice breaking. I knew Mary was also listening, and I could see her tearing up. My heart went out to her as I read, and my thoughts were that perhaps, Sam was also hearing me read it to him.

After I read the letter to Sam, Mary left Sam’s bedside. Peggy and I then both laid hands on Sam and began ministering quietly to him. We both felt a strong anointing come upon us to speak life back into Sam.  Jumpin’ jitters, I’ve never prayed before for someone who has died. COURAGE just took on a whole new meaning for me.

Peggy repeatedly spoke, “Your Father loves you; you’re a good son.”  She had no idea why she felt the need to say it over and over again, “your Father loves you, you’re a good son,” but it felt right.

At that moment we both saw and felt Sam’s body shudder; his arm jerked under the light touch of my hand on his arm. Peggy and I both looked at each other. “Did you see what I just saw?” My expectations were now elevated. I truly wanted to see more. I wanted to see “Lazarus” raised from the dead. But as we continued to listen and pray, I distinctively heard the Holy Spirit say to me – “let him go.”  After a couple of more times hearing the Holy Spirit say to me “let him go,” I looked up at Peggy in resignation, and said, “let him go.”

We spoke with Sam’s wife afterward in the hallway.  She shared with us that Sam’s parents had divorced, and his mother never allowed him to contact his father. She went on to say that Sam’s father died of a broken heart having never been allowed to speak with his son Sam again. On Sam’s deathbed, the Holy Spirit was leading us to pray the FATHER’S LOVE into Sam, over and over, saying that Sam is a good son. “Your Father loves you.”

It all made sense now! Isn’t it wonderful to know that God is still in the restoration business? Even on his deathbed, God was still ministering to Sam, to a place that was an unresolved emotional wound in his heart.

The timing was perfect, even to the point where Peggy had to make a rest stop just before we got the call from Mary. Had we arrived any earlier we would have run into their priest, and I don’t think I would have had the courage to pray as freely as I did. It would have been awkward. Had I arrived after the physician officially pronounced Sam dead, we may not have had the opportunity to pray for Sam.

We said our condolences and moved towards the elevators, and we marveled at the FATHER’s LOVE and desire to love us into eternity.

Copyright 2018
by Bill Hutzel & Peggy Castorri-Hutzel

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A Curious Encounter

That’s me on my porch

(By: Cheryl Newland) I had a God-incidence that left quite an impression on me. I was making dinner for my husband. At the time we lived in a second-floor apartment of a nice older home with a large front porch. It was a lovely summer evening, and I decided to sit on the porch awhile waiting for him to arrive from work and left my dinner baking in the oven.

A little elderly lady was walking by, and we spoke. I invited her to sit with me on the porch as she looked rather tired. She did and as we talked she commented several times on how wonderful my dinner smelled. Her name was Mary, and I began to think that Mary must be awfully hungry, so I asked her to stay for dinner, all the while wondering what my husband would think about a stranger being in our home.
Thankfully, he didn’t seem to mind!

After dinner, Mary helped me clear the dishes and kept commenting on all my nice left overs. I got the hint so I asked her if she would like to take some home. She said yes so I packed them into a large plastic container and Mary left.

I was curious about Mary since all she had said was she lived nearby. I asked many people in the neighborhood, and no one had ever seen her. I continued to search for Mary but had no luck.

One day several weeks later, I came home to find my container washed and on my front porch. Again, no one had seen Mary.

In Hebrews 13:2 the Lord says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” I believe I was able to entertain an angel that night!

Copyright 2017

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Stage Fright

As I looked out from behind the stage curtain, I could see that the performance hall which accommodated nearly 2,000 people was packed, and on stage were seated many keynote speakers. I had been asked to speak on behalf of Chi Alpha and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship campus ministries while a student in college.

As a musician, I have experienced normal anxiety before going out on stage.  Typical thoughts go through your head such as “Can they see how nervous I am? I think my face is getting red.”  “What if I blow it? I think I’ll die if I make a mistake.”  “What if I lose my place in my music?  Will I have to start over again? That would be embarrassing.”  “What if I get dry mouth?”  “What if I cannot stay focused? …. I AM JUST SO NERVOUS!”

Over the years, however, I have learned a lot about overcoming nerves as I gained confidence as a player, but in this instance, my stage fright was directly proportional to my lack of speaking skills, lack of faith, and I was just plain old SCARED.  I guess I felt as Moses had when he pleaded with the Lord to excuse him from his calling.  “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled” (Exodus 4:10, NLT).

Yep, I was really having a bad time of it.  “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!”  “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”  “Beam me up!!! …  will you?”

As I anxiously waited behind the stage curtain, I was approached by someone backstage.  “Would you pray for me?” he asked. I didn’t have to ask him what he wanted me to pray for, for one of his eyes was immensely swollen and closed shut. He explained that he had been stung by a bee.

GOD WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS

All things are possible through prayer.

“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick …” (James 5:15).  Most people think that you must have lots of faith to heal the sick, yet, it was not my faith, but heaven interceding on my behalf to create faith in me for which I was lacking.

As I put my hand on his shoulder, I began to pray.  I did not close my eyes or bow my head in prayer but instead watched as all swelling over his eye disappeared.

PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU; MY PEACE I GIVE TO YOU[1]

I was now pumped, and couldn’t wait to step out on the stage.  You see, I was a new Christian, and had never witnessed God’s healing power in this way before, and so I was, as you would expect, awed by God’s healing miracle; and all of a sudden, all fear of presenting in front of a large audience left me.

As I stepped out through the curtain on to the stage, I felt a surge of energy go through me, and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I was jumping within and at the same time completely at peace. And as I began to speak, I detoured from my planned presentation to start by telling the audience about God’s miraculous healing of the person backstage.

My excitement was contagious, for the audience rose to their feet with arms outstretched and with cheers and clapping. I almost forgot why I was there to speak in the first place.  And as I went on and on about how this individual came to me and was healed, one of the keynote speakers looked at me, tapping his wrist as if to say, “it’s time to get on with your presentation now.”

I don’t believe that this incident was coincidental, rather it was orchestrated. Such orchestration you may have heard referred to as a God thing, a God wink, a touch from heaven, or God-incidence. It was orchestrated to strengthen my faith.

It is interesting also that I didn’t see this person again afterward.  Where did he come from?  What was he doing backstage?  Why was he not out in the audience?

There are many examples in the Bible where God sent an angel to give a specific message, to protect, or to serve a person. I believe that on this occasion, God sent an angel to minister to me in my distress and to strengthen my faith in Him to do what Jesus did.

If you have a God-incidence to share, won’t you please share it?

Copyright 2017 by Bill Hutzel

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[1] John 14:27, New American Standard Bible

Be still and know that I am God

Be-still-and-know-that-I-am-God-inspirationandhope

If you are observant, you would probably find that when there were significant life changing events in your life, God-incidences may likely have accompanied them. It was God’s perfect timing and means of communicating with you, and of reassuring you that everything would be okay; perhaps in just a whisper, a subtle wink from God that witnessed to your spirit.  So then, when you opened your Bible, and a verse just jumped off the page at you that spoke directly to your situation, that was not just a coincidence.

Excerpt from My Journal, July 6, 2016

Today, I randomly opened to a page in my daily devotional that spoke pointedly to me in my despair.  God had reserved it for me when I most needed to hear it — “Be still and know that I am God”.

Sometimes I have difficulty sharing my personal feelings, concerns and fears, although I know that I am human and life has a way of getting us down. This is one of those times. But I share this with the hope that you will be encouraged by it when you are challenged.

A recent life event, and without getting too detailed, had brought me to a low point in my life.  Oh, sure, I am supposed to be strong and courageous, but right now, I am tempted to despair and succumb to my deepest worries and afflictions.

“O God, it still hurts”.  Some days I am fine, other days I am sad.  This was one of those sad days when I just didn’t want to get out of bed.  Life just doesn’t prepare you for ……

It was now 7:45 a.m., and I had been lying awake since 6:15 a.m. I had no energy to start the day.  “Oh well, I better get up and make some coffee.  Maybe that will help”.

After making my coffee, I sat down to read and pray. Today’s daily devotion from Streams in the Desert, May 10th, was timely and deeply personal. After reading it, I thought to myself, God should have personalized this one to me by prefacing it with “Dear Bill”.

“Oh, how great the temptation is to despair at times! Our soul becomes depressed and disheartened, and our faith staggers under the severe trials and testing that come into our lives, especially during times of bereavement and suffering. We may come to the place where we say, ‘I cannot bear this any longer. I am close to despair under these circumstances God has allowed.  He tells me not to despair, but what am I supposed to do when I am at this point?’

What have you done in the past when you felt weak physically? You could not do anything. You ceased from doing. In your weakness, you leaned on the shoulder of a strong loved one …

Once you have come close to the point of despair, God’s message is not, ‘Be strong and courageous’ (Joshua 1:6), for he knows that your strength and courage have run away. Instead, he says sweetly, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10) …..

That is all God asks of you as his dear child.  When you become weak through the fierce fires of afflictions, do not try to be strong. Just be still, and know that [he is] God. And know that he will sustain you and bring you through the fire.

God reserves his best medicine for our times of deepest despair.”[1]

Be still and know that [He is] God” is sometimes all that I (we) can do to trust Him when we are suffering and weak. Then I rest in His arms and I am reminded that weeping is only for a short time, that rejoicing will come again.

FOOTNOTE

[1] Reimann, Jim; Cowman, L.B.E., Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings, May 10
[2] Photograph, “Dory” by Charles Steinhacker

Copyright 2016 by Bill Hutzel

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In no uncertain terms

How many of us can say that God has spoken to us in no uncertain terms? Yet, He probably has and you just didn’t know it. I refer to them as God-incidences, messages of reassurance that come when we most need them.

The events in the following story came during a time of great anxiety. It tells of a battle between faith and fear. It tells of the discomfort often felt during life changing events, and the uncertainty that always accompanies them. And it is especially a time when we are most apt to hear God’s message of reassurance to us – “Everything will be okay. I have everything under control”.

Mark Thompson Profile“I have been employed for many years as a library manager at New Jersey state colleges,” says Mark Thompson. With higher education funding in serious decline, it was difficult to maintain services with lower budgets. As the leader, the most pressure was on me. To the detriment of my health, I had to take on larger and larger burdens due to having to take up the slack for staff reductions. There was reason to worry that my job could also be eliminated. It became too much.

Then in August 2015, I was without a job. I applied for unemployment benefits, grateful that it would help me over the six months of job searching. Other than unemployment, my wife and I only had $1,000 per month of income. We prayed for God’s mercy, but instead the world crashed upon us. I fell down some concrete steps and was brought to the hospital. I had no insurance. Next, my stress-induced ulcer led to a life-threatening stomach infection – more medical bills. Plus, it interfered with the job search. I needed to surrender to God, and muster up the courage and faith to let go and let God take the steering wheel from me. No easy task. I like to take control.

Then after almost three months receiving benefits, my former employer fought to repeal them. After an ugly set of four hearings, they won. I would not receive any more benefits and I would have to immediately pay back what I had received. Was this really happening to me? I did not have enough money as it was to pay bills and then pay them back. Not only was this a great financial hardship, but also emotionally devastating, plunging me deep into despair. So, I asked friends to pray hard to help me to keep trusting in Him. Although I knew that the Bible said that God was in control, I couldn’t shake that “no way out” gut wrenching feeling of panic that I now succumbed to.

As a believer, I am often conflicted by the fear that I feel when confronted with circumstances that threaten my well-being, shamed, knowing that God has always provided for me in the past, and also knowing that He promised to continually meet my needs “according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19). So when I am facing fears, I (we) must remember that we are human and it is normal for us to worry, but not unsurmountable when we exercise our faith in God through fervent prayer and praise. Do you want to know if prayer works? Then put prayer to the test. God wants us to ask Him for the impossible, for God is a God of miracles and He wants to answer our prayers.

A week after losing my final appeal on unemployment, I received news from the attorney that had settled my Uncle Morton’s estate that additional monies had been found in the State’s unclaimed property fund and that I would be the recipient of it. I was elated. The timing couldn’t have been orchestrated better, and the amount found was nearly the amount I owed. God knew my need and answered me with a check in the amount of $16,796.00.  That would nearly cover my total bill of $16,987.96 that I owed the State. “Unbelievable! Thank you, Lord – you are faithful.  You are merciful.”

Well, God did leave a balance owed of $211.96. I guess I am not totally off the hook yet for trusting in God. But the God-incident served to raise my God awareness of Him in my situation. As we mature in Christ, and with each new circumstance that comes our way, our faith is tested, and it grows with each answered prayer, especially when the odds are slim to none that there will be a positive outcome.

Copyright 2015 by Mark Thompson and Bill Hutzel

Related Link: Don’t Worry About It

 

Be Watchful for “God Incidences”

“Some people mistakenly refer to inexplicable, uncanny, timely, and/or especially appropriate happenings as coincidences. But Christians need to recognize them as God incidences”, says Christianity Today.[1]

EH2b

It was not a particularly warm evening in May that my wife Bev called me to tell me that a guest at her Bed and Breakfast inn just let an air conditioner fall out of the 3rd floor “Mansard Room” window (see arrow in picture). The Mansard Room, aptly named because of the mansard roof over it, is a roof that has four sloping sides, each of which becomes steeper halfway down.

Was it incredulous of me to think that anyone would open a window with a window air conditioner in it?

As she shared this account of the incident over the phone with me that night, I reacted loudly.  “Are you kidding me?” I cried. Was this some kind of joke, but I knew it wasn’t because I could tell from the concern in her voice that she was telling me the truth.  And so the account is as follows.

She said that she heard a loud crash.  Thinking it was just another automobile accident outside, she rushed outside with her hand readied on her phone to call 911. It was not uncommon for accidents to occur at the corner of the inn’s busy intersection.  However, when she came running out of the house, she was confronted with something completely different. There were parts scattered all over the lawn.

It was 8:30 at night. A young 30-year old European guest came running from the inn, visibly terrified, mortified and upset, apologetic and offering to pay for damages, but my wife would hear nothing of it. She would decline the offer for remuneration, and rather than saying to the inn guest “whatever possessed you to open a window with an air conditioner in it?” she consoled her instead. The guest explained that she was just trying to get some fresh air into the room.  Now mind you, there are two windows in the room, one with an air conditioner in it, and the other without. Instead of opening the window without, the guest opened the window with the air conditioner in it.

As I read from Sarah Young’s devotional “Jesus Calling” the next morning (May 29th), God impressed upon me the “God Significance” of this event.  Sarah Young wrote – “I am with you, watching over you constantly. I am Emmanuel (God with you).” Sarah Young continues writing in the first-person (I, Me, My) from God’s point of view —  “Accept every event as My hand-tailored provision for your needs …. find Me in every situation”.

View from Mansard Room window of the ground belowView from the Mansard Room looking out the window at the garden below

The significance of where Bev was and what she was doing at the time of the incident is relevant to finding God in this situation. Different from almost every other night, Bev was ironing and doing laundry, perhaps rushing to get a room ready for a late check-in.  Normally, however, she would have gone out to water the garden around this time. It was dark by then, so she also would not have seen anything falling towards her. The garden area where Bev would have stood was also in the direct path of the falling air conditioner. The air conditioner came crashing to the ground with the sound of a car crash, sending shrapnel everywhere.  If it were not for God’s protection, she would most likely have been struck by the falling air conditioner.   Fortunately, none of the guests were entering or exiting the inn at that time either.

Remains of the Mansard Room air conditioner

I have to believe that God sometimes uses God incidences like this as a tool for fulfilling His plans, to shake us up a bit and make us more mindful of Him, and also as a reminder that He is our protector, and that He is watching over us constantly.

“Whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, can say to him,   “You are my defender and protector.   You are my God; in you I trust.”[2]

 

Copyright 2015 by Bill Hutzel

FOOTNOTES

[1] Christianity Today, “Be on the Lookout for GodIncidences”, April 10, 2012

[2] Psalm 91:1-2, Good News Translation