I’ve always found it challenging to listen to God’s voice — but on one occasion, I heard it very clearly.
A number of years ago, as part of my job, I drove up the Washington coast to Westport, near Grays Harbor, to observe testing at a school. I stayed in a motel right on the beach, overlooking the ocean. When testing was finished for the day, I was free for the rest of the afternoon, and I decided to walk on the beach.
The jetty was about a mile and a half north of the motel, and though it was February it wasn’t very cloudy. I picked up my car keys, stuck them in the pocket of my jacket and started walking. The tide was coming in, but the beach was fairly wide and flat and walking was easy. I passed only three people as I walked. There were few footprints in the sand, and already the waves were washing away the few that were there.
When I got to the jetty, I climbed a small hill to admire the view from the top. I’d taken off my jacket a bit farther down the beach, and the evening breeze was refreshing, though crisp. The late afternoon would soon become evening, and I knew that with the tide coming in and the day getting darker, I’d need to walk back quickly.
I was about two-thirds of the way back to the motel when I reached into my pocket to get a Kleenex and discovered that the car keys were gone! I couldn’t believe it! I had no spare key – it was a rental car, after all. The light was waning, the tide was coming in, and I had no idea of where on that vast expanse of beach my keys could be. All I could do was try to retrace my steps and see if I could spot them. The jetty was about a mile away – a lot of beach to search.
Panic started to set in. How would I get to the next school in time for testing the next morning? Westport is a little town with no car dealership that could possibly help.
As I walked, I tried to follow my footprints in the sand, but the tide had already washed many of them away. I was alone on the beach, searching for something nearly impossible to see in the waning light that might have been washed away or covered by sand. I prayed as hard as I’d ever prayed before.
A “voice” told me to keep going, keep looking.
So I did. My heart was pounding, but I kept searching that long beach. “Keep going,” I heard in my mind. I got all the way back to the hill I’d climbed to get to the top of the jetty at the north end of the beach – and as I looked along the sand at the base, there they were – lying in the sand where they’d landed when they’d silently fallen from my pocket!
I was overjoyed! As I walked back down the nearly dark beach, I sang and prayed many heartfelt prayers to The One whose still voice directed my mind and eyes. God’s presence, care, and love filled me with gratitude and awe — and still do.