I was at my friend’s birthday party the other week, and I ended up talking to this lady who goes to Central, and halfway through our conversation she commented ‘You really do a lot of praying, don’t you?‘.
Um. Yes. Yes I guess I do.
However, recently, God has been reminding me that just talking at Him is not really being a woman of faith. And I think he noticed that I wrote on my blog that I hoped getting a tattoo would end the nuttiness. *insert sound of God laughing here*. He’s been testing my faith and my ability to listen to Him with the small things in life and in the last two weeks my friends have laughed with me as I’ve shared these two mundane stories…
It all starts with a camper van. Actually. That’s not true. It really began 4 years ago with some toys, 2 cards, a camera, good food, sunshine which led to giddiness, hilarity and conversation…
So it actually wasn’t long after that, my friends Brisaac & Lady V began Soul Surfers. We had a few beach days, got involved in some Surfers Against Sewage beach cleans and this camper van called Davina started making an occasional appearance. We fell in love with Davina – which is a big thing since my love of VW had to compete with my in built dislike of things that are Hibs/Celtic colours.
The main dude behind Davina, a man named Steve, went off to become a Pastor of a church in the west, and poor Davina was left without people to help fulfil her purpose in life. However, her owners very kindly agreed to let Soul Surfers use her whenever we wanted. Granted, she’s spent some time in the garage because she needed a part and it was tough to find so we couldn’t take her out for a while, but still. We’re now able to use her, and she’s taken our ‘stoke to broke’ friend and others out for picnics and hopefully she’ll be making a trip to Dunbar for a beach day soon.
My friends had asked me to pray because they really want to do what Steve used to use Davina for. They asked other friends to pray too. And then, when we heard Davina was being put up for sale, they asked us all to pray about whether or not they should buy Davina.
Of course! I said. Praying was what I apparently do a lot of after all.
And so, one day a few weeks ago, sitting on the top deck of the airlink bus, I chatted to God about it all. And text my friend about what I thought God was saying to me. I did not text her the second part of what I thought God was saying to me, because I thought ‘that’s a bit weird, and it’s probably my subconsious dislike of green and white‘.
What did I hear in my head that I didn’t share with my friend?
‘Look out for the blue van‘.
Aye. Whatever God. There’s no blue van.
And so God and I (in my head) argued back and forth about sharing this second part with my friend. By this time I was off the bus and walking up Cockburn Street. I told myself I was hearing things. But the little voice persisted. Look for the blue, look for the blue. I seriously questioned my sanity.
Until, out the corner of my eye I saw something in a shop window. A blue camper van. In bag form.
I stopped and stared, laughed, and took a step to walk on, but I just heard this voice again. You need to buy that bag. I sighed, and went in and asked the lady in the shop
“Hi, can I ask you how much that bag in the window is?“
She went and checked – it was £38. Ok. It was £37.99. But still. For a bag?!
I walked around the shop to see if I could find a blue camper van magnet, mug or something you know…cheaper. I got the feeling that I was to buy some kind of ‘souvenir’ for my friends in relation to their camper van dream and thought surely a keyring would do just as well. I couldn’t see anything. Which was weird, because I’m sure that shop normally has a whole section of VW stuff! I was about to walk out, really knowing deep down that my gut instinct was telling me (ok, God was telling me) to buy that bag for my friends. But why? Surely God would want me to give money to the homeless? Build a school in Kenya or Haiti? Not buy a overpriced bag that looks like a blue VW Camper van.
And I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but I’m the girl who can’t afford to rent a flat or keep a car. The last bag I bought was a small rucksack that cost about £11 because my old one was literally disintegrating. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than £25 on a bag. A suitcase, yes. A bag, no.
“Sorry God, I don’t really have the money to buy that bag“
I started making my way out the shop, and stopped dead in my tracks when God responded
“Do you really think that I can’t provide you with the £38 to buy that handbag? If you don’t have faith that I can provide for that handbag, why do you believe I can provide your friends with a camper van?“
Ouch. Game, set and match to God.
And so after wandering in another circle for another second, I went back up to the counter.
“Hi, I’m really sorry, I’m not sure if I need a psych ward or a church, but I think God is telling me to buy that camper van bag for my friends. Could I please buy it?“
And continued waffling to the girl about how it was weird I was praying about my friends who had asked me to pray about this camper van, and then I thought I heard a voice telling me about a blue van, and then 30 seconds later I saw this bag in the window…
The girl laughed awkwardly. I’m pretty sure she thought I was off my rocker.
I don’t really blame her.
I later texted my friend to say…um…I have something to give you. Will explain later.
I’ll be honest folks, I have no idea why I was to buy that bag. I think it was to show some kind of trust and faith and to remind us to have faith for Him to provide for their camper van vision.
But oh, the little voice stories didn’t end there. A couple of weeks later, I was leaving church. I had planned to stay in the city centre to run some errands and meet up with my friends from high school. The night before one friend had cancelled and I hadn’t heard from the rest. As I walked into town, I was grumpy and thought about just jumping on a bus at the West End and going home instead. But that little voice spoke to me again – and told me I should stay in town.
I was still grumping as I walked down the road. As I reached Princes Street some other friends text me to say they were heading to the beach – did I want to join them? Joining my friends at the beach sounded much more fun than staying in town on my own. But even as I text back with my ‘yes’ I had that nagging feeling that I should stay in town.
I ignored it.
It was past 1 p.m. by this time, and I was hungry, so after running my errand, I decided to get some food. I had the choice of running to Subway – on my way to my meeting point with them, or walk further along to Marks & Spencer. I was about to decided on M&S and ask my friends if they wanted me to get something, but again that wee voice said ‘don’t text’. I did my phone in pocket, phone back out of pocket dance, and decided they probably would say ‘No, we’re fine’ and it would take me longer anyway. So I obeyed the small voice this time and went to Subway.
And as I was standing in the queue, I looked up and realised the woman in front of me looked vaguely familiar.
It was my baby sister (my 22 year old baby sister). Who I hadn’t seen in a year. Who’s boyfriend’s plans had made her cancel on our scheduled dinner 2 days before when she let me know she was back in the UK (I hadn’t been too chuffed about that).
After commenting on ‘how freaky’ it was, I got on the phone to my friends and asked them if they’d didn’t mind me not coming to the beach after all (I apologised later for saying yes in the first place). They were lovely about it, and I spent a few hours with my sister where she told me she was moving to a country in the continent of Africa.
As I went home, I understood why that still small voice was telling me not to go home quite yet…
That is how I’ve been challenged recently – to listen to the ‘still small voice’. Because really, something that seems trivial could turn into something greater for all I know. You think I would have learned by now that obeying and listening – even when it seems strange (like seeing visions of women dressed in red and hearing words in other languages I don’t understand) – could lead to more than I think it will.
I’m still learning that lesson though.