Last week I shared about how writing, and any other act of faith, is a little like following the trail of breadcrumbs through the forest in the manner of the fairytale Hansel and Gretel. Today I would like to share a recent breadcrumb experience.
It was a Sunday night at church. The preacher had just finished their sermon. I got up to lead the church in singing a couple of songs to God, in response to the message. As the lights dimmed, I ascended the stairs to the stage and noticed my heart racing.
The reason for the pounding heart was that I thought God might be speaking to me.
It was not a loud booming voice. It was nothing spectacular. It was just a subtle impression, a gut instinct if you will. And it was prompting me to sing a different song.
It was just a subtle impression, a gut instinct if you will.
You might remember the old song, “Create in me a Clean Heart,” based on Psalm 51:10-12. It was running around in my head. I couldn’t shake it. I felt strongly that God wanted me to sing it for the congregation, right then and there.
This presented me with a couple of dilemmas. One, I already had two other songs lined up, ready to go. These two songs had been rehearsed with the band. The pastor was expecting the two prepared songs. So a spontaneous song might shake things up a little.
Two, as already mentioned, the band had rehearsed two other songs. They had not rehearsed “Create in me a Clean Heart.” I had no idea if they knew the song. I did not want to throw the band off-balance or make anyone panic.
So I kind of sang a little bit about clean hearts. I sang some spontaneous lyrics about repentance and God making us new. Then I led into the two pre-prepared songs. “That was fine,” I thought to myself. “That will be enough.”
But I got to the end of the service and the strong impression was still there, relentless, pressing, urgent. I knew there would be no getting around this one. “Ok God,” I conceded. I began singing “Create in me a Clean Heart.” To my delight, the band joined in. It went fine, and the service finished not long after.
Normally I do not get feedback about the songs, spontaneous or otherwise, that I sing at church. But that night, as I stepped off the stage, a lady approached me. “I just wanted to say thank you for singing that last song about the clean heart,” she enthused.
Then tears welled up in her eyes. “Before you started singing it, I was praying those exact words myself to God. And then when you started singing that song, it was like, Wow, God hears me. I know he always hears me, but it was like, he really sees me and knows me and hears my prayers.”
“He really sees me and knows me and hears my prayers.”
I pondered this afterwards. I am constantly following little promptings like that, little nudges of “Sing that again” or “Wait just a moment longer” or “Reach out to that person.” I hardly ever know if they have any effect. But that night, I sang a song and it reached somebody. It made a difference.
And all it took was one divine breadcrumb.
What breadcrumbs are you following at the moment? Where do you sense God leading you? Let’s have a countercultural conversation.