All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, but Mary kept these things in her heart and thought about them often (Luke 2:18-19, NLT).
Twelve years ago this December, I had an encounter with God I'll never forget. I was in the thick of a personal crisis so frightening to me, I literally couldn't function. With desperate, convulsive sobs, I cried out to God, pleading for his help.
Then--in the thick of my hysteria—the Lord spoke directly to me with four commonplace, yet powerful, words: Everything will be OK. I vividly remember the undeniable strength, unquestionable authority, and incomparable compassion in God's voice. I'd never experienced anything like it before—and have not since. In that single moment, joy and inexplicable peace surged through my spirit. I couldn't believe the Almighty God of the universe had actually looked down on my distress, in all its ignoble basket-case glory, and had responded so intimately to my pleas. As I composed myself, wiping away my tears, I felt hopeful, knowing without a doubt God saw, cared, and, yes, controlled my family's future.
Lest you think I'm the type of woman who regularly claims to hear God "speak," the reality is, I can count on one hand the times God's communicated to me in ways other than through his Word. But God knew I needed immediate rescue from my emotional Chernobyl. So he graciously provided something big and irrefutable, something special and dramatic and supernatural, to tuck away in my heart. Then, whenever fears and doubts would creep back into my mind, I could relive this experience again and again.1