It was 1999 and I was in Year 6. Three years earlier the World Wide Web had been invented; Destiny’s Child dominated the sound waves; Michael Jordan, on his second round of retirement, was still the most sought after basketball trading card; Eminem released “My Name Is”, and an 11 year old girl named Danielle* made her first appearance at a private Christian school on the Gold Coast.
At the time, I had no idea how significant this event would prove to be, however her arrival changed (and continues to impact) my life.
What I wish I could ignore…
Danielle and I were very different people (I found that out later) but initially I was too preoccupied trying to make her feel welcome, trying very hard to be a good friend, that I just ignored those seemingly little differences in our personalities.
I was so eager to be her friend and in her group that I did anything for her: if she left her lunchbox in her bag, I would go and get it; if she needed to pass information onto someone, but didn’t want to do it herself, I would act as the messenger – whatever she needed, I aimed to meet that need.
After a while however, it became apparent that my lack of social significance was a point of irritation and annoyance for Danielle, who moved onto bigger, more significant people, but not before I experienced a life defining God moment.
His voice was like the sound of many waters
It was 1999 and I was in Year 6. Danielle became the person by whom my life revolved and nothing she asked or needed was ever too much. It was in Danielle that I “moved and breathed and had my being”. Then one night, God showed up.
I was asleep and had fallen into a vivid dream: I was in the bedroom I shared with my sister when an earthquake struck. The ground beneath my feet was crumbling and shaking, so I grabbed my sister’s arm and we ran to the bathroom and hopped into the bath, thinking that this was the safest place to be.
Unfortunately the earthquake began to raise the bath up, so we jumped out and ran back to our bedroom and this was when I saw something unusual. At the entrance of my bedroom doorway was a flashing road sign, the kind of road sign that you see with the yellow/orange electrical lights. I stopped to read the message and couldn’t understand what was written as it wasn’t written in English but Hebrew.
I stood there, puzzling over this writing, when a voice sounded — so rich, so paralysing was the sound of this voice, like a raging waterfall when He spoke, and this is what He said to me as I stood staring at the road sign, “You will bow down to no one but Me.”
At the sound of His voice, I was struck with a paralysing fear, a divine understanding that this was someone who had incredible power whilst simultaneously feeling that this person loved me in a way that no one else could ever hope to do. What I felt in that moment when God spoke to me audibly, in the same way that you hear your wife, husband, father, mother, sister, or friend talk to you, was fear and then an overwhelming, indescribable love. The love of someone who knew me, all of me, and loved me wholly and completely.
The next morning I told my Dad (a pastor of a small church) about this dream and the voice that I had heard. I described what the voice had sounded like (a waterfall) and Dad searched the Scriptures, finding this description:
“And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.”
(Ezekiel chapter 43, verse 2)
I was amazed that God had spoken to me in such an incredible way and I knew why He had told me that I “…would bow down to no one but [Him].” Danielle had become my god.
The big reveal
Over the past few weeks, this life defining God moment has been coming back to my recollection with greater and greater frequency, and I have finally understood why. When God reveals something to you about Himself (and perhaps about yourself), while it may be needed particularly in that season or situation, it is not meant to remain in exclusivity for that time only.
This dream, this experience, has informed who I am and who God is to me. It revealed a tendency I have to idolise others in my life and it has emboldened me to have courage, in moments where I might have been silent, to challenge and to confront ideas and practices in my workplace and in my personal life that are un-Godly.
Whilst I submit to authority I don’t idolise those people who are in positions of authority over me, and this defining moment in my life has birthed within me a tenacious, undaunted streak where the idea of displeasing others (that once would have intimidated me) now no longer has hold of me when I remember that, first and foremost, I aim to please my God and Father.
God has revealed Himself to you and in doing so He may have shown you something about yourself too. That revelation was not just for then, it is for now as well, whether it came through some extraordinary event, or whether it was in the small details of a day.
“For in Him we live, and move, and have our being…”
(Acts chapter 17, verse 28)
*Danielle has been used to protect identity.
Janna Cutler is married to the amazing Captain Cutler and is a 30-year-old Christian and educator from Queensland. Her interests include reading, writing, eating, exercising, the beach, travel and connecting with young people who are trying to walk out their love and relationship with Christ in a middle school setting.
Janna Cutler (nee Mills) is a Christian and educator from Queensland who married the second greatest love of her life in last July,. Janna's interests include reading, writing, eating, the beach, travel and connecting with young people who are trying to walk out their love and relationship with Christ in a middle school setting.
Janna Cutler’s previous articles can be viewed at: