My wife said to me, “I had a dream about you crossing the road. A bus was coming, and you put out your hand so it would stop.”
I took the dream to be a warning from God, because we live on a very busy street. It is sometimes tempting to want to race across the street in order to catch the bus to work in the morning. But at what cost? So I decided to take it a bit slower, and be more careful, on account of the dream.
Several days went by. I kissed my wife and said goodbye. I headed out the door. The bus was coming! I was tempted to want to race across the street, but remembered the dream. Rather than trying to race across the street, I simply put out my hand towards the bus, as if to say, “Hey, do you think you could please stop?” But the bus driver just ignored by plea and whizzed by me.
I crossed the street and waited. It would be another 5 or 10 minutes before the next bus would arrive. I decided to race ahead a few stops for the sake of exercise. I ran a total of three stops. Then, the bus came. I met three people on the bus — all from India — and there was an immediate opening to talk with them. We talked for about 5 minutes. I mentioned to them that I had eaten Indian food the night before. One of them asked if I had been to India. I said, “Yes.” In fact, I had been there many years before as part of an evangelistic outreach.
I gave three evangelistic tracts (pocket-sized pamphlets) to the people from India, and told them I was a Christian. They gladly received them.
The city is ripe, I thought to myself. This city of Toronto is very ripe for the picking.
Jesus said, “The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that he may send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2)
The three Indians and I went down to take the subway. The doors opened, but directly in front of me was a barred subway door. It caught me off guard. I had never seen a barred subway door before.
Suddenly, the warning sound sounded, to say, “The doors are now closing.” On the spur of the moment, I had to quickly choose which door to enter. Would it be the one to the left of the barred subway door, or the one to the right? I choose the right.
The three Indians made a dash to the left. We were now in separate cars. I lost them! That had not been my intention!
There were no seats available on the subway, so I kept walking down the aisle. I eventually got to the end of the car, and there were still none. The subway stopped at the next stop, and I quickly exited, only to quickly rush back into the next car, to see if I could find a seat.
I wanted a seat. I wanted to be able to sit down and do some work on my laptop, as it would be a 23-minute ride. Finally, I found one. There was just one seat, but why was no-one sitting there? When I sat down, the foul smell of urine invaded my space. Was I sitting on it, or was it coming from the derelict-looking man to my left, who was standing near the door? I didn’t know.
A clear plastic barricade separated me from the man standing to my left, so I could not tell if the smell was coming from the man, or from the seat I was sitting on. I decided that at this point, what did it really matter? I kept sitting and enjoyed the ride.
I got off the subway, and was preparing to go up the steps. I wanted to take the stairs for the sake of exercise. But as I approached them, the Lord suddenly spoke to me.
In the faintest but clearest of whispers, he told me to take the escalator, which was to the left.
It threw me for a loop. The escalator? Really?
I quickly disregarded the voice because I was walking fast and wanted to get going. That was a good enough reason to disobey the voice of the Lord, was it not? I was in a hurry! Thus, I took the stairs.
It was not to my advantage to take the escalator, I thought. Yet I began to feel like I had made a mistake, every step I took! I continued walking up the stairs, but only made it to the 11th step.
The Holy Spirit, who lives inside each believer in Jesus, began to get slightly grieved. I could feel it. The slight grief was almost as slight as his voice when he had told me to take the escalator, but was just as clear. All I had to do was listen. My problem was that I was just a little bit too rushed for what the Lord wanted. This whole episode was to get me to slow down, but I didn’t quite realize it. That was the only goal at this stage of the journey. The journey had two stages, and I didn’t realize I was only at part one. Part two was less than 40 steps away.
There I stood on the 11th step, wondering, “Should I go back down or not?” It was a decision I had to make. Was I going to be obedient or not, to the voice of the Lord?
I wondered, “But maybe it’s not the Lord.”
I wondered again, “Maybe it is the Lord.”
Although I was half-way up the stairs, and there were only 10 more steps to go, I walked back down, because that is what faith does.
I couldn’t chance disobeying the Lord. If he was speaking to me, there had to be a reason. It would not take long to walk back down the stairs and take the escalator.
By this time, any time advantage of taking the escalator was completely lost! I was now about 2 minutes behind schedule!
Surely, it was not a scheduling thing with the Lord. I could even run up the stairs quicker than the crowd was able to move up that escalator! It was not a particularly long flight of stairs. The issue was not time. Surely, the Lord had another reason!
Everything I was doing at this point in time was merely a lesson in obedience. That was the entire issue. If I could not be obedient at this point in time, I was going to miss the next opportunity. The next opportunity would occur less than 40 steps away.
I walked back down the steps, and took the escalator. Nothing dramatic happened, and I did not meet anyone along the way, either. Soon, I was at the top of the escalator — the same place I would have been about 2 minutes earlier had I simply kept walking up the stairs.
Our heavenly father is a good father. His goal is not condemnation but training in righteousness. I was being trained by the Holy Spirit, so that in less than 40 steps, I would not miss out on what God was doing.
The turnstiles were not far in the distance. Those were the turnstiles at Bloor/Yonge station by which a person can then exit either left towards Bloor street east, or right, towards Bloor street west. I veered to the left, and was about to exit the turnstile, in order to proceed towards Bloor street east, when the Lord suddenly spoke to me again, this time telling me to stop!
It was just a few feet before actually passing through the turnstile that he spoke to me, and he did not want me passing through it! Would I stop this time, precisely on queue, before I could even exit the turnstile? That was the question. That’s what the training was all about. That’s what the training downstairs had been all about. It had been all about doing it right — right now, right this very second!
Right now, right this very second, I stopped. I could not get away from the fact that he was speaking to me again. I perceived it clearly.
With razor-sharp precision, I stopped on queue, before exiting the turnstile. Two seconds later, and it would have been too late, and I would have had to pay another subway fare in order to get back inside. Had I escaped the turnstile, my incentive and motivation for coming back inside would have also been jeopardized at that point in time. So now was the time to stop — not in two seconds.
A Clear Voice
The voice was very distinct. It was not audible. It was spirit-to-spirit. The Lord can certainly speak audibly, but he did not do it in that way. He bypassed my physical ears and spoke directly to my spirit. For the Lord communicates very clearly. He can say it as clear as any man or woman, or he is not the Lord. Cannot the Lord, who created the mouth, speak? Does not the Lord, who created the heart, have feelings and emotions? I was hearing him, and he was speaking to me. The voice was clear.
He said there was a woman on the floor I was to speak to. But I didn’t know which one it was. I looked up and noticed two women. Normally, there were many people on that floor, but the subway had come and gone and the people had mostly cleared out. There were only two women in sight. I looked and saw one coming in my direction. Could this be the one God wanted me to speak to? She was moving rather quickly and I decided to let her go. Good decision. She was about to exit the turnstile, and the Lord had told me to stop before the turnstile. She was not the one the Lord had in mind.
The second woman was sitting on the bench in the distance. She was about ten steps back, near the top of the stairs, from where I had just come. She had a cell phone in her hand, but I didn’t initially see it. She was distraught.
This woman was occupied with some concern.
I walked up to her, and pulled out my one remaining evangelistic tract —I had only taken four with me that morning, and I had given the other three to the three Indians. Even while she was still on the phone (I now noticed she was on the phone, engaged in some sort of arduous, soul-gripping, conversation), I said to her, “I would like to give this to you.” Then, I added, “I’m a Christian.”
It’s not that I wanted to interrupt her phone call, but I didn’t really notice she was on the phone at the beginning and almost blindly went up to her to give her the tract. She had been essentially clutching her phone, holding it by her side, in distress, as I approached her. I simply gave her the tract, then added, “I’m a Christian.” It was a word she needed to hear. I sometimes don’t add that part in. In fact, I usually don’t mention that, unless I feel a clear leading from the Lord. In this case, I did. There was liberty to tell her, I was a Christian. She needed to hear it. It was all part of the plan —the Lord’s plan, that is.
She responded with tears, “So am I,” and frantically went back to her phone call, sobbing.
The woman was in need, but I didn’t know what the issue was. The tears were flowing, but she kept looking up, as if looking up at God, towards heaven, with tears running down her face. I told her what had happened, how the Lord had spoken to me, and she immediately fell down on her knees by the bench, worshipping God and raising her hands to the Lord, as she looked towards heaven. She alternated between looking up towards heaven, and looking down towards the ground, holding both hands together, weeping. She kept weeping and I told her I would help her.
For a good long while, maybe one or two minutes, she remained kneeling by the seat, weeping, and saying, “Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Lord!” in French.
What was going on? What was the issue? I didn’t know. But I did know the Lord had sent me there. That much was obvious.
As it turns out, she was from Ottawa (about a five or six hour drive). She had been living in a women’s shelter for about four months in Toronto. She had no husband, and two daughters back in Ottawa. She had come to Toronto to look for a job. She was in desperate need.
She had not seen her daughters since coming to Toronto. They were on their own, and one of them was finishing her year in university, but was under high stress, and ended up being rushed to the hospital. Clearly, this was a very stressful situation for the mother, and it was just then and there, while sitting on that bench at Bloor station, that she found out. Yes, at that very instant, when the Lord had spoken to me, she found out that her daughter was in the hospital. It really was a desperate situation for this poor woman. The Lord really felt for her, so he interrupted me.
With her daughter far away, finishing up in university, without anyone to care for her, and now in hospital, and the mother not having a penny to her name, being forced to live in a woman’s shelter, this is why the Lord stopped me that day.
You see, he’s got a heart. His heart is a very soft one. He is inclined towards the poor, distressed, outcast, widow, and orphan. In the Bible, we read,
“Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)
The voice was inescapable. I had to do something. I had to care for this woman, at least in a small way, in order to help her out in her distress. And she really was in distress.
She kept crying. I prayed with her and reassured her that God knew her name and the name of her daughter.
“Take courage,” I said. “God is in control. He cares for you and your family.” We said a prayer. The woman was being comforted, and that was God’s will. The Lord deeply cared for this woman, and her two daughters.
The story of the good Samaritan flashed in my mind. What did the good Samaritan do? He took the man and brought him to a place where he would be taken care of. And God had given me some extra money so I could do the same. I took her to a bank machine and withdrew enough money to pay for her return bus fare to Ottawa, with enough extra to cover any miscellaneous expenses along the way. She would not be in want, and have all her needs covered, at least for this trip. Within a short while, she was on her way. Later, she called me, to tell me that she was able to see her daughter, and return to Toronto. I was glad. Still, I wished I could have been able to do even more. But I figured, I did what I could, and the Lord will help her in her other pursuits.
1. Can you hear God speak to you? If not, why not? Ask God to speak to you and to open up your heart. He will. He may not do it today, but he will begin doing it if you give him the opportunity, and if you say, “Lord, I’m willing to obey you.” Try it. You would be surprised at what the Lord is willing to do in your life, that may seem a little unusual at times. But in the end, and if you are prudent, you will open the door for some amazing “God opportunities.”
2. Do you have a relationship with God? A relationship with God starts with saying “yes” to Jesus, and saying “yes” to what he did in dying for us on the cross. Your “yes” means a huge amount to God, and paves the way for you to have a wonderful relationship with God the father. As you say “yes” to Jesus, the Bible promises us that God’s Spirit will come to live inside of you. The presence of the Holy Spirit is God living in you, every moment of the day.
3. Do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? Would you like to? You simply need to trust him and learn to depend on him. You might say, “Easier said than done!” But actually, it’s easier done than not done, for it’s very difficult to live this life without the help of the Lord, and it’s impossible to live the next life without his help. Your life will never be the same, as you learn to talk with him, read his word (the Bible), and fellowship with his people (through church).
4. Have you confessed your sin to him? Just be honest. He knows it already. He’s not out to “get you.” He’s out to heal you, and to bring you into a wonderful, loving, relationship, with God the father, through Jesus Christ the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Those may seem like strange words to you now, but in due time, if you trust in him, you will see just how amazing this relationship really is!
5. Is there anything in your life that you are holding back from God? As you surrender your heart to him, he will open his heart up to you! It’s a wonderful relationship you have entered into by saying “yes” to him. It’s not just a one-way communication by which you pray and hear nothing in response. God is a living God and desires to communicate with his people!
6. What about something bad you have done? Do you think he would ever forgive you? He would and he will, if you simply tell him, and make it your sincere desire to never do that bad thing again. God honors a humble, contrite, heart. He is moved on behalf of his people who come to him with a sincere and pure heart. Learn to trust him.
7. God seeks for people who will worship him in spirit and in truth. It is not religion, but a relationship with the living God. If you have not done so already, will you surrender your life into his hands, and find a good church, that upholds the Bible as the word of God, in which you can grow and learn to hear God’s voice? He loves you!
*The printable tract is provided as a PDF document that you can easily print on any letter-sized paper. Print the page (on both sides). If your printer cannot print both sides, simply print on one side, then feed the paper back in, and print on the other. Then, simply fold the page three times in half. This tract is small (2.75″ x 4.25″ — a bit larger than a business card) and convenient for responsible free distribution.