Real Life Stories: "Hearing From God"

Tim Relph is a husband, father, educator, and a member of Real Life Church. This is his story of hearing from God, in his own words…

I certainly am not one who likes to admit that, in my own callousness and cynicism, that supernatural ways God chooses to work, are fine for others, but not for me. I probably think this much more than I care to admit. I am not completely comfortable with the topic, and in some respects, I guess it comes down to not being completely comfortable in all that my faith entails. I think I sometimes want my faith on "my terms," not God's, and that puts me in uncomfortable spiritual places at times. Thus, this is out of character for me to have this type of experience, but it's one I most definitely cannot deny. I suppose what is even more interesting about it, was that my wife can back-up the story, because she was there and walked through it with me. 

I find myself in a place I've never been before - out of a job. Without going into great detail for the sake of this blog, I was a school administrator, and I have been seeking other opportunities, and nothing has worked out thus far. I've come close a couple of times, but nothing has happened yet. Many say, "Oh, you'll find something," "It's out there," so on and so forth. I want to believe them. However, what I do know is "out there" are bills to pay in August with no real means to do so. And while others have been traveling and posting their adventures on various social media outlets, I have been spending the summer filling out applications and applying for jobs. It's just been "glorious." Of course, it's not like I'm bitter or anything ;) So yes, I've spent countless nights staring at the ceiling wondering what in the world am I going to do? And why God isn't rescuing me from this? Then a week ago Sunday happened....

And let me just start by saying I still don't have a job. So, it's not like God answered that prayer on Sunday. However, He did something else I never would have expected.

When I was walking into church (late as usual), the worship band was just finishing up and Jim was about to start his sermon. I received a text message from a guy named Mike, my best friend of 30 years who goes to church in Whittier (WAC). He had sent me a link to a song (which was odd because I don't recall this happening before), and he had texted some things with it, but I obviously wasn't going to open up the link or read what he wrote because i had just walked into service. So I didn't even open it up, and instead opened my phone Bible to Mark 1. As many of you know, at the end of the sermon, Jim asked if anyone needed prayer for healing? A lady right next to my wife, Jacquie, raised her hand and said, "yes." So when we started to pray, I felt compelled to get up out of my seat and go lay hands on her. So, Jacquie and I both prayed for her. I know at this point you are probably thinking that she was healed of her ailment, etc. Actually, I have no idea. She came up after the service, introduced herself, and thanked me for praying. Off she went. What you don't know is what I said to God, when I felt compelled to get up out of my seat. I said to Him (not out loud-but in my head), "I'm the one that needs a miracle. I'm the one that needs something supernatural. Why am I praying for her?" I know....completely selfish. Welcome to my life.

So, we finished praying and Vanessa and the worship team came back up on stage. Now, I have to admit something. Vanessa, you are one of the most talented worship leaders I've ever had the pleasure to hear. I completely appreciate the God-given gifts He has given you, and why you don't have a professional record deal, I have no idea! (or maybe you do, I just don't know about it). Yet, I'm not someone who likes to sing at church. I will at times, but I mostly just like to listen and read the words. It's just how I'm wired. I really can't explain it other than that. And, in addition, worship usually doesn't resonate with me. It certainly does for everyone else in my family, but not me. Hearing someone talk about God's Word tends to be my gravitational pull. I say all of that as context for what happens from here....

One of the closing songs had lyrics that hit me square in the heart, but not in a normal way, more like a “supernatural way”. The congregation started singing and in some very strange way, I felt like God was talking straight to me, as if NO ONE else was in the room. I couldn't hear Vanessa, or anyone. All I saw were these lyrics and it all of the sudden became this overwhelming feeling, like God was reaching into my soul. 

Your promise still stands

Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness

I'm still in Your hands

This is my confidence

You've never failed me yet

I've seen You move. You move the mountains

And I believe I'll see You do it again

You made a way, when there was no way

And I believe I'll see you do it again

Well, at this point, tears are streaming down my face (just like they are as I write this now). Please understand, I don't cry at church. I mean, I have, but I certainly don't make a habit of it. And at this point I'm kind of wondering what's wrong with me, because this song is speaking to me in a way I have never experienced before.  Well, this would be a nice story if this is where it ended. However, God realizes just how stubborn and thick headed I am. So here is where it gets interesting. I was so moved by the song, that as soon as it was over, I took the notes section of my phone out, and typed out the part of the chorus that I wanted to remember. I had no idea ( I do now of course) the name of the song, or who sang it. I just know it moved me deeply, and I didn't want to forget the words. Yet, please note, at this point I still was not putting two and two together with what I had said to God when He wanted me to get out of my seat and go pray for someone else, and the event that just took place.

Service ended. I put away some chairs, the lady (later was told her name was Doris) introduced herself to Jacquie and I, and thanked us for praying, and we left, and she left. Then, we walked out to our car. I turn the car on in the parking lot, and of course it's really hot. So I crank the air and the radio is already on. Jacquie likes to listen to KLOVE. (I would rather listen to classic rock, but what are you gonna do?) Well, all I can think about is how hot the car is, and that I don't want to go grocery shopping or go to Kohls...please no Kohls! Then Jacquie recognizes the song that's playing...of course, it's the same song that has just resonated with me 15 minutes earlier. I then tell Jacquie about my experience, and I show her my phone and the lyrics I wrote down. At this point she thinks it's amazing and awesome. Myself? Nice coincidence at best. I mean, really cool, but it's a popular Christian song I am imagining. What happens next is when I start paying attention.

Then I remember that I had received a text message from my best friend Mike. I wanted to at least read what he wrote before I started driving. So I did, and he said the following, 

"Our worship service ended with this song and communion today. Made me think of you and your job hunt situation. I highly encourage you put it on a loop or playlist. Love you Brother!" 

And then underneath it was the link. Embedded in the link were the words, "do-it-again." I just saw those words in the lyrics I wrote down, the same lyrics that are playing on the radio! My friend Mike had sent the same song to me  before service started, certainly long before I heard Vanessa and the worship team sing it! Jacquie looks at the text from Mike and we both look at each other, and hear it on the radio, and at that moment I remember what I said to God. "I'm the one that needs a miracle. I'm the one that needs something supernatural." Well, it gets even better. At that point I text Jim (at Kohls-because I just couldn't think of anything else to do there) and asked for both his and Vanessa’s email to share with both of them what had happened. What I did not know, even at that time, was what my friend Mike would tell me later on Sunday night when I called to share with him my experience at church. I asked him why he sent it to me? I was curious. I don't have our conversation recorded, but I will tell you, to the best of my memory, what he said to me. 

"I heard the song play, and I was listening to the words, and I just started crying, tears rolling down my face, and it wasn't for me, it was for you. I just kept thinking, 'Tim needs to hear this, I have to share it with Tim'".  Then he said something to me that I will not soon forget. He said, "God was telling me as the song was playing, 'tell Tim he doesn't need a job, he needs me. He is seeking a job, but he needs to seek me. I see him. I see him."

Well, at this point on the phone we are both in tears, especially when he heard about my morning. And then, if there hasn't been enough, comes the clincher. I tell my wife what Mike said on the phone and she says, "I've been praying exactly those same words for you for weeks now." I'm just blown away at what God did for me on Sunday. He answered my prayer. I told him I needed a miracle, and He gave it to me. I needed His supernatural intervention, and He met me right where I was at. Nope, I still don't have a job. Not yet. But He sees me, and I am to seek Him, not a job. Yes, I will do diligence and apply and interview. However, God made it quite clear who is in charge, and it’s not me.

Vanessa, thanks for choosing that song....Thanks for letting God use you in a supernatural way. I guess you never know. And Jim, thanks for asking me to pray for someone else. Because in doing so, I'm the one that received the supernatural. Go figure. Isn't that just like God?

-Tim Relph



A further note: a week later a woman emailed Pastor Miller and said she had experienced significant relief from back pain after she was prayed for at church on that same Sunday.  She said she needed less pain medication all week.  Then she said, "I didn't catch the last name of the people who prayed for me, but their first names were Tim and Jacquie."