Growing up I always wondered what people meant when they said they heard God or God told them to do something. I’m thinking, like heard heard or what?
One time someone told me you pray about something, and then you open your Bible randomly and the answer will be on the page. I tried it a few times and just got frustrated because it never worked. I even went on a few pages. I mean what answer am I supposed to find in the list of people “begat”ing people?
Now that I think about it, that’s a little silly. I mean there’s no reason he couldn’t answer like that but there’s also no reason he should. It’s almost like turning God into a Magic 8 ball. You know the kind…the ones that you shake and it says “outlook hazy” or “ask again later”. My Magic 8 Ball approach to God never worked for me. So I gave up.
I wished I’d have kept reading instead of deciding the answers weren’t in there. Now I know they are, but that’s not the way to find them.
I do remember one time that God spoke to me in a strange way. Before I tell you I don’t want you to think this happens all the time. It literally happened once, likely because it was the only way to get my attention. I also want you to believe me when I say God spoke to me in a dream.
I know…I’m with you. Before it happened to me I would have put that in the category with ghost sightings (don’t message me if you believe in ghosts. Some of my favorite people do and that’s fine.). But there’s only one explanation for it.
I was at a church summer camp I think my junior or senior year of high school. This wasn’t our regular camp but another one our church also attended, I think a leadership type camp. Anyway, one night I was in the worship service. I always love the singing part of the service, whether it’s because I love to sing or because I love to praise depends on the time period of my life. During the start of the signing I remember suddenly getting so tired I couldn’t stand it. I literally could not keep my eyes open. I tried because these songs were good. Finally, I gave up and sat down and did what good Christians do and assumed the praying position so no one would notice I was sleeping.
As soon as I closed my eyes I was in a bright room. My dad was there…my dad who died when I was 5. (Remember when I told you I never fully dealt with his death…like ever? Ya that one.). I ran up to him and gave him a huge hug and he held me for a minute. Then he pulled me back like you do when you’re going to tell someone something, held me by the shoulders and said, “you know I will always be here for you.” I said, yes. He continued, “I will. I will always be here, but you need to let go of me and hold on to Jesus now.” Then he hugged me again and when I pulled back he was gone and Jesus was in his place. Then I woke up, stood up and went back to singing while thinking about this strange thing that had happened.
I thought about it the whole rest of the service. I mean was it real? Did I really just see Jesus? After I wrestled with my unbelieving heart, I prayed and asked God to help me do just that…to let go and hold onto Jesus. But I still wasn’t sure.
Afterward we divided into our family groups (which were groups of students from different churches and a male and female adult or college age leader). Almost as soon as we sat down, someone said to me, “something happened tonight in church. You look different.” We were outside in the dark under a lamp. I don’t know how different I could have looked but they were right. I even felt it. I had experienced God.
But like I said, that’s not normally how God communicates with me, but I’m so glad he did that one time. It was a great experience!
So I’ve always wondered how do I know for sure he’s speaking to me? I mean I find meaningful verses sometimes. Preachers will say things that I take meaning from. But how do I hear from God?
I recently heard that question asked to someone being interviewed and it suddenly made sense. They said they hear from God in the ways mentioned above, but they also hear from God in a small voice in their mind sometimes. The interviewer asked them what it sounded like and they answered, “well it kind of sounds like me, but I know it’s not me.” Basically they were saying in thoughts that aren’t thoughts they would have and internal monologues.
So I paid attention and sure enough. I think that’s probably true that if we really pay attention and we are really asking for answers or listening to God sometimes he just talks to us. Not in the booming voice we’re expecting, cuz let’s face it I for one would be scared if that happened randomly throughout the day, but it’s in the “still small voice.” The one that sometimes even uses my voice but says things that I don’t know or wouldn’t say.
Let me give an example that happened the other day.
We are getting ready for summer “Bible study” at the church and I got an email asking us if we wanted to help. Of course I want to help. You know my problem with wanting to help…everyone lol but anyway. So I responded.
The next day or a few days, we got an email back that says thanks for volunteering to help, here are 3 ways you can help (ps I’m paraphrasing). So there starts the internal monologue with me and God (in parentheses)
Ways to help: #1 plan and set up decorations. (Me: Oo. I like to decorate and I’m literally in the Hobby Lobby parking lot right now. And I’m good at decorating. God: No, keep reading. Me: fine.)
#2 make coffee and greet or welcome people. (Me: I hate making coffee, and I’m just really not that friendly. God: I know. Not that one. Keep reading. Me: thank goodness.)
#3 share a testimony or a word or the way God is working in your…(God: That one. Me: but I’m really good at decorating and I even have things at the house. God: I know, but this one. Me: I mean I can make coffee and figure out how to be friendly. God: No. This one. Me: but God I’m at Hobby Lobby…ugg fine. But can I decorate too? God: maybe.)
So I responded to the email, still you know holding on to my idea of what I want to do but also knowing God’s. My response went something like this:
“I really like #1 and I’m good at it, but God says #3 and that’s really scary.” Then I hit send.
Luckily God and I both know #2 is not for me.
But seriously in my flesh I have no desire to get in front of a bunch of women and tell them something…especially something personal…especially if I might cry. I would never argue with myself over that. I would pick decorations and move on with my life.
But God told me I’m talking in front of people. So I guess we’re doing that this summer. Good things I’m also reading 100 Days to Brave by Annie F Downs. I might need it.
I hope hearing how God talks to me might provide some validation for the way he talks to you because he does. We just have to be still enough to listen and be ready to hear him. (And maybe not argue with him and just do what he says…but he made me. He knows how I am.)