The sun shone through the window and made it nearly impossible for me to see the cash register. The typical morning rush was in full swing, and help wasn’t expected for another two hours. Nothing new. The same old, same old. That was just how my weekends were. But there was something odd about this weekend. Nothing large, mind you, just something that caught my attention.
Over and over again, the customers’ totals came up to $7.77.
For several years before that my life had been…interesting. I had gone through a lot of changes, and, while I believed I’d weathered them well, I still felt somewhat trapped. There were things I wanted do, goals I wanted to pursue, but I’d convinced myself that those goals were for after everything else was done. After working 40+ hours a week, after the house was clean, after the bills were paid, after the kids were taken care of. Pick an ‘after’, and I believed it was more important than taking the chance of actually doing what I dreamed.
Now, if these totals had occurred because of similar purchases, I would never have noticed; I can pretty much tell customers the total before the register finishes processing anyway. But this total didn’t come from multiple people buying the same items. They were random items, a mixture of all the things we had in the store.
The number 777 has significance in almost all religions. It is the number of perfection, the number of a guardian angel’s presence, and it indicates that the time is right to simply ‘go for it.’ I knew this, and I knew there was something I desperately wanted to do, a goal I had that I believed had been put on hold for far too long. But I was afraid. There were bills to pay, after all, and truly pursuing my dream would place my ability to pay them in jeopardy.
So, I acknowledged that I had gotten the message and kept on doing what I was doing, which basically involved working my job, taking care of everything, and then filling in with the work toward my personal goals after it. In short, I was a walking zombie from exhaustion, but I felt like I was doing all I could to live my dream.
Now, I knew good and well that God (or the Universe) was speaking. I was familiar with the verse in 1 Kings 19 that says God speaks in the still, small voice, and I was cognizant of the VOICE (capitals intentional). It was never a matter of not hearing it; it was a matter of being too afraid to act upon it. It was a matter of that practical side of me overriding my faith.
Don’t get me wrong. I made some adjustments. I adjusted the budget and eased up on the overtime, delegated some of the household chores (my kids are almost grown), and allotted myself some time to really focus on that dream I had so wanted to pursue. And I made some progress. A little anyway. Every day I told myself that I was doing what I could to move forward and that the resources I was so tempted to use to dive headlong into my dream were better reserved for other things. Savings are a good thing to have, after all. What if the car broke down? What if someone got sick? What if things didn’t work out the way I was hoping they would? What if…pick one. They all went through my head.
But when the Universe wants us to get a point, It has a way of speaking so we’ll understand. For years I had understood that, even if I didn’t really apply it to my own life. I had to be practical, after all. Even growing up in a Christian family, I had been taught there was a difference between having faith and just being stupid. I believed putting all of my energy into my dream, even though I was pretty sure I could pull it off, fell into the ‘just being stupid’ category.
But God wasn’t through talking.
Like most people, I have a Facebook account. I can’t say that I really do much with it, and my friend list is under thirty. I vaguely remember hearing something at one point that there was a new feature that allowed someone to post live videos, but, since I’m not big on things like that, the information just went straight through my head and kept on going. Until the night a friend of mine, a former college roommate, went live.
Knowing her, going live is probably something she does a lot of, but I’d never noticed; I’d never been notified before, and I haven’t since.
On this particular evening, with lightning flashing through the clouds and thunder booming, my phone informed me that this friend had something to say. I don’t know why it chose that night – well, I understood after the fact – but I hit the button and gave her a listen. This was when God spoke in terms I simply couldn’t ignore.
This friend of mine has taught a lot of children, and she’s moved up in the world to join the board of education. She also preaches and works above and beyond to help young people achieve their goals. On this night she was out walking, and she was talking about starting new things. Initially, she was speaking to her former students, those who were starting college, but what she said spoke to me as well.
She spoke about the book of Acts where Paul arrives on Malta and is bitten by a snake. She spoke about the snakes that tend to come out and bite us any time we start something new, and she talked about the things that climb out of the woodwork, the doubts and fears, that hold us back from achieving our potential.
She didn’t quote the verses, but she told the story and spoke about how when a person is beginning something new, snakes will often appear to impede the flow of the project. Action will come to stop as fear conquers faith. This was just what was happening to me. Sure, I was working toward my goal. It was foremost in my mind most of the time. But I was also holding back. As much as I claimed to believe in it, that part of me who’d spent so many years thinking it was impossible was still speaking, and the rest of me was still listening.
For a couple of hours after this I sat on my porch, watched the lightning, and considered what I’d heard. Yes, I’d heard the VOICE of God. He’d spoken once in a set of numbers that caught my attention, and, though I’d understood the message, I hadn’t acted on it. I’d let the snakes bite me and hold on. But He hadn’t given up. Instead, He’d spoken through the mouth of a friend, someone I hadn’t spoken to in a good while.
And these weren’t the only times He’d spoken. Thinking back over the year before, I could identify several instances, small things that would have no significance to anyone else, that could be nothing other than God showing me the way. The problem was that, as a human in the modern world, I just flat out didn’t have the strength to do what I was being told.
The next few weeks at work were some of the worst I’d ever had. Customers were ruder than normal, machinery broke down more often, and every time I tried to do something I messed it up. Every fiber of my being longed to quit and turn my attention in another direction, but that practical side, that inner voice, was just too insistent to allow it. I prayed. I meditated. And on my last day before my vacation began, I finally achieved the peace and confidence I needed to go for it.
Things have gone well since then. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I wish I’d let faith rule instead of fear and stepped up into the place God had for me without fighting Him. I wish I’d had the faith and the courage to listen sooner, to hear that still, small voice that was nearly shouting at me and urging me forward.
About the Author
I’ve always been a book junkie, particularly fantasy. I spent most of my teenage years in Raymond E. Feist’s Midkemia, and it’s still the one place I most want to visit. Middle Earth, Narnia, and the Four Lands have always been some of my favorite vacation spots. And, of course, we can’t forget the years at Hogwarts and all the times we had to deal with the wizard council in Chicago. Anywhere and everywhere magic can be real is where I want to be. Always and forever.
I think that’s one of the biggest reasons I write. I love to create worlds, to ask ‘what if?’. There’s nothing better than taking some half-formed idea for a person and tossing him/her into a world I wish were real just to see what will happen. (I don’t care what anyone says, the author isn’t always in control). Bringing creatures to life, fighting monsters, wielding magic. All of these things can exist in a book when the ‘real’ world just can’t seem to figure out how to make them work. There’s nothing better in the world, and I don’t think there ever will be.
Most of my books and stories have some basis in mythology and folklore. This is an area that’s always captured my interest, and I think too many of us have forgotten the wisdom and lessons embodied in these tales. While I don’t want my work to simply be a retelling of the stories, and I’m quite willing to add my own twist to any of the tales, I do hope that at least some will look further into the topic after getting a taste of it in my books.
Come and visit me at http://www.lissadobbs.com. You can also connect on Facebook and Pinterest at The Shadow Walkers of Grevared and on Twitter @lissadobbs. If you want a look inside what’s going on in my writing world, check out my blog at http://shadowwalkersofgrevared.net.