For the last few weeks, I’ve been journaling during my prayer time. I pour out whatever is on my heart to God in writing and then get quiet and listen for His voice. Though I’ve never heard Him speak audibly, it is amazing how much God will say when you set aside time, get still, and expect to hear from Him.
Just as He walked in the garden with Adam & Eve and talked with Moses as a friend, God wants to speak to you and me. We were made for real relationship with our Creator. What is a relationship without two-way conversation?
I think many of us who have no problem believing that God hears us when we pray, struggle to believe that He would answer in a personal way. We need only look to the Bible for assurance that God does want to speak to His people:
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know.”–Jeremiah 33:3
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”–John 10:27
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.”–John 16:13
Yes, God speaks…
… as we read His written Word.
… through a still, small voice.
… as we gaze in wonder at the world and the work of His hands.
… in countless ways, limited only by our reluctance to stop and listen. His creativity knows no bounds.
I know this to be true, and yet God found in me a stubborn and unwilling companion these past few days. You see, AJ had to be hospitalized. He was tested and re-tested for COVID-19. Both were negative, but he still spent two nights in the hospital due to a high fever and dehydration.
The process of getting him admitted was insane due to COVID precautions, and I was angry. Angry that my baby was hurting, angry at the state of the world we’re all living in right now, and angry to be sitting in yet another hospital room when “been there a hundred times before” is starting to become more literal than figurative.
So, I sort of gave God the silent treatment–even though I felt Him tugging at my heart, and even though I knew the only peace to be had would be found in Him. Part of me felt He should have arranged a better weekend itinerary for me. The other half was bent on being unhappy no matter what.
I discovered that persistence is a quality I can add to my list of things I love about God–right between gentleness and mercy. When others would have lost patience or been put off by my obstinance, He didn’t give up on me. He never has.
I’m thankful, because what He had to say was exactly what I needed, and for more than just the hospital stay. God didn’t land AJ in the hospital, but He sure did redeem that time by speaking truth and wisdom straight to my heart.
As much as I appreciate what God says, I am in awe of how He speaks.
As a teacher, I understand that there are many types of learners. If I want my students to grasp the message I am trying to communicate, I must consider their diverse learning styles. One student may sit and listen without even taking notes, while another would benefit from a visual aid, and still another needs a more hands-on approach.
God is a better communicator than I as a teacher could ever be, and He knows his audience well. I believe that He talks to each of us in the way He knows we’ll hear Him best.
God has gotten my attention through the special and the mundane: a vivid dream … an overflowing trash can … the plot of a popular TV show … an archaic word I’d never heard before that came up three times in the same week … a comment made by my seven-year-old … a doodle in my notebook that probably only He and I can decipher.
Most often, God speaks to me through language. A passage of scripture I memorized as a child. A song lyric or quote. A metaphor. I love words, and I love that He knows that about me.
This time, after I was finally ready to listen, He whispered a question:
“What makes you most proud of your dad?”
This was something He’d first asked me weeks before. That the question was repeated wasn’t strange. I’m accustomed to God saying the same thing more than once, especially if I need reminding or just haven’t quite gotten the point. What did surprise me was that the question was about my dad. At the time, I hadn’t seen or talked to him in awhile. Still, the instant the question reverberated in my heart, the answer came too:
I recalled a story my mom told me about how dad was pastoring a small West Texas church. It was time to appoint a new deacon, and dad had someone in mind–a man who genuinely loved God and was faithful to serve the church and its people. Though this man’s character made him an excellent candidate to be appointed as a deacon, others in the church sought to disqualify him because of the color of his skin. My dad stood up–both for the man and in the face of injustice. Church members responded by making sure my dad would not receive a salary, but my dad held his ground.
I remembered another story of a church member whose son had contracted AIDS. He was alone and dying in a hospital bed, and my dad planted himself by the man’s side when no one else would.
One more story–a scene I can replay in my mind through the eyes of a little girl. I went with dad as he left the house in the middle of the night to buy food for a woman who needed it. Allsups was the only place open, and I watched as he piled lunchables and other food on the counter and pulled out his wallet to pay.
Why God brought these moments to mind, I’m not completely sure. Maybe my dad needs to hear that his daughter is proud of him. Maybe his daughter needs to be reminded that in a world where opinions rage and politics are unpopular, God is still calling his people to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” which is to love God and “love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 6:2; Mark 12:28-31).”
Either way, I’m so grateful that God speaks.