Adventures in Flowing in God, Part 4

I began writing this as a continuation of a series of posts entitled Adventures in Flowing in God, but perhaps this should have been renamed “ADVENTURES IN FLOWING IN GOD … NOT SO MUCH THIS TIME.”

Do you ever wish to hear God, but you can’t? This is not an uncommon problem for the average Christian. Not hearing God’s voice, however, was never intended by God. Learning to discern and hear His voice is invaluable. I found this out on vacation in Arizona last September 2019.

Lovers of God have been given eyes to see
with spiritual discernment
and ears to hear from God.
(Proverbs 20:12)

So, why am I sharing this with you? What lesson did I learn?

TV and radio transmissions are broadcast 24/7 daily, but we can only hear a broadcast if we turn it on. Similarly, we can only hear God’s voice if we turn Him on and tune Him in. God is always transmitting. How’s your reception?

NOT HEARING FROM GOD

Although traffic was heavy, I left with plenty of time to arrive at International House of Prayer Eastern Gate by 6 o’clock for the Thursday evening service, and so I wasn’t particularly anxious; YET!  I was looking forward to playing in worship and was earnestly seeking Him and connecting with Him on my drive there.

UNTIL ….

I had never traveled this particular route before and so I depended on my GPS device to get me to my destination. Normally, the GPS is very reliable unless it loses its signal or goes awry, which is very infrequent.

The road was heavily traveled with lots of stops and starts due to lights and a large number of cars and trucks on the road. It was “rush hour. Frequently cars would cut in front of me to get in my lane. “Okay, Bill, take a deep breath and count to 3.”  I eased back on the accelerator and put a couple of car lengths in front of me, although what I really wanted to do was ride this guy’s tail and lay on the horn. I didn’t, however, remembering to BE FILLED with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18) rather than be filled with the flesh.

The female voice on my GPS alerted me to a turn coming up. Unlike my demeanor right now, there was no alarm in her voice as she matter-of-factly said, “Take next right turn in 500 feet.” I’ve gotten used to her voice. She is my friend. I don’t have a name for her, so I’ll just call her SHE. And so, I listened and followed her instructions.

But SHE’s instruction had to be wrong. Too late, I had already committed to making the turn. Why did SHE put me on a jug handle to go in the opposite direction from which I was traveling?  My frustration showed as I told her so in so many words. Have you ever had your GPS take you in circles as if it were confused? I have, and so I thought this was one of those times. Ignoring her, I instinctively got back on our original route. SHE did not correct me and allowed me to continue. I discounted the mistake to be a malfunction.

Sometime later, SHE instructed me to get in the leftmost lane. I did and then saw that I was in the left two lanes for the Holland Tunnel to New York City. “What!??? I’m not going to New York City.” What’s going on with SHE?”  Alarmed, I immediately put my right blinker on and edged my car into the middle lane. Still, with my blinker on I attempted to get into the rightmost lane to get on to the Pulaski Skyway to New Jersey. My car was rolling forward slowly with the traffic until I abruptly stopped. All cars came to a halt in front of me. When we started moving again, someone sped up and wouldn’t let me merge. “C’mon!,” my frustration showing again. Typical New Jersey driver! Ugh.

“Okay, enough of the horns already!” No one was allowing me to merge into their lane, and so I momentarily held up traffic in the middle lane until someone was kind enough to let me get in front of them, or perhaps it was I who got a little aggressive and cut the nose of my car in front of theirs until they had to yield. By this time, I had lost any feeling of the presence of God. I would have leaned on the horn but reconsidered. In New Jersey, if you annoy the driver in front of you, they will personally see to it that it takes you twice as long to get to where you are going. Can any of you new jerseyans relate?

The Pulaski Skyway is a 4-lane highway that runs for 3 ½ miles over two rivers and the New Jersey Meadowlands where rumor has it, Jimmy Hoffa’s body is buried underneath. It soars 135-feet into the air bypassing railroads, interstates, factories, oil refineries, and canals. Trucks, pedestrians, and bicycles are prohibited on the skyway because the four-lane highway, two in each direction, barely fits onto the structure, leaving no room for a shoulder or sidewalk. At one time, there were over 400 crashes a year on the highway and thus the reason for prohibiting commercial vehicles and pedestrians today.

Talk about not hearing from God. You assume the worst. What if I don’t get there at all? Yup, my frustration had gotten the better of me. We’ve all been there, done that. I needed to get back in the Spirit.

Over an hour into my route, SHE alerted me to  – “Route Memory Full,” and then my GPS stopped working. The maximum available memory had been exceeded. Why is this happening to me? If SHE were a real person I might have wondered, was SHE angry at me for something? Or was she just having a bad day and malfunctioned? We humans sometimes malfunction too. I was having one of those malfunctions right now and could not hear God as He had designed me to hear Him.

What do I do now?” I thought. I was completely lost without my GPS. But then I was quietly reminded in my spirit of my vacation in Arizona when my wife Peggy and I heard God’s voice for guidance. So, why not now? I thought. I needed to rely NOT on my GPS device but God’s Positioning Satellite instead.

It wasn’t so easy, though, under duress and the incessant chatter in my head. Instead of hearing God’s voice, I kept hearing – “You are going to be late; really late!” “Are you delusional?” “You can’t hear God for directions.” “How foolish of you to think that God would supernaturally guide your way there.” “Stop at a gas station and ask for directions.” Oops, I just passed one a 1/2 mile back.

“Take the next right,” I thought I heard in my spirit. But too late to respond I passed it and kept going. Did God really tell me to take that right-hand turn or was it all in my head?  The next right-hand turn was a dead-end. I kept going until I finally committed to the next right-hand turn. It seemed most logical and was at least in the right direction.

Hearing God was difficult. It felt too much like rowing an 8-man 60-foot long sculling boat against the tide and wind by myself. Where was my coxswain to encourage and guide me? If you don’t know what a Coxswain is, it is the person in charge of the boat, particularly its navigation and steering. During a race, a coxswain is responsible for steering and calling the moves. “LET IT RUN; LET IT GLIDE.”

Well, I certainly wasn’t a smooth-running vessel, and the finish line wasn’t in sight. Was God even listening to my cry of HELP? Had my coxswain fallen overboard? No, clearly the problem was not with God, but with me.

It would have been so much easier if my scull was equipped with sails to catch the wind, analogous to catching the Holy Spirit’s wind. Coming into alignment with the Holy Spirit then would be just like sailing, not by my own strength, but effortlessly with His breath. Things could then happen in our life that would otherwise not be possible, things like asking for small, even unorthodox things like this, not just the big things.  “Give ear and come to me” (Isaiah 55:3) – in everything!

Circumstances were different now than our vacation in Arizona where there was no deadline to be anywhere. Yet I won’t say that hearing God’s voice was not without some resistance, then, either. It was just different. Given our unfinished spiritual condition, we often resist God and withdraw from what He wants to show us. And so, this is where I had mentally retreated in my moment of panic.

Listening, like most disciplines is a skill we develop that comes from a deeper relationship with God that is developed by actually engaging with Him, by finding intimacy with Him.

My GPS device, by the way, did come back online, although it only worked intermittently. So, there were a couple of wrong turns, yet God still got me to IHOP with 7-minutes to spare. I was relieved that God came through despite my victim mentality to succumb to negativity.

HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED

In retrospect, I am now able to look back. I am convinced that God was always in control even though I wasn’t. When it seemed like I was facing problems at every turn (Haha, forgive the pun), I needed to be reminded of how God saw my problem. I needed a new perspective, a different thought process, a language nothing the world had ever heard before. Here’s what Graham Cooke said in his video The Language of Heaven.  “No problem can come to us without a provision and a promise attached to it.  A problem is meant to move us into God’s provision. What if a problem is so big? Then the promise is bigger than the problem. Imagine! It’s a new way of thinking. Every problem comes with a promise and a provision. Convert your negatives into something brilliant because Christ doesn’t want us to be victims of negative situations. We need a new mindset. We need a new language that describes who God is for me.”

I am learning how to step into God’s fullness when I have problems. I am learning how to step into my inheritance. Everything I face in life, whether small or large, is meant for me to become more like Jesus.

Have you set your sails, or are you still rowing under your own power? Who is your coxswain?

If you haven’t already read:  “Adventures in Flowing in God,” Parts 1, 2, and 3. Click on links below.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Copyright 2020 by Bill Hutzel

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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 spirit, 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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