I was in elementary school when I first heard God speak. It wasn't an audible voice. It was a confidence that I KNEW something there was no earthly way I should have known. I was in the shower when all of a sudden I felt like there were going to be a lot of people in church on Sunday. I got out of the shower and told my parents, and like the child that I was, I expected every seat to be full so that it was standing room only. It wasn't that full. But it was full.
Why did God tell me church would be full? That's not an important message like the ones He gave Moses and Noah. But maybe it was so I would learn how to listen for Him.
I'm honestly not a very decisive person. I want to know all my options. I want to weigh them carefully. And I question my choices.
But when God speaks, there is no question. I become this bold person I don't recognize. It's both cool and scary at the same time.
Like the time a friend of mine was making poor choices. I was praying in my prayer journal, and I wrote something about how she needed to treat herself the way she would want her daughter to be treated. I felt like I had to tell her this. So I did. Without knowing she was pregnant with a little girl at the time. That's no accident.
I had another friend once who called a psychic. The psychic told her she was pregnant, and she was. But I don't believe this was God talking. I did some research on the supernatural, and I do believe there are "familiar spirits." These spirits aren't from God. They aren't entities that have our best interest in mind. Quite the opposite, in fact. They know the past and the present, and they can give this information to psychics, but they can't know the future. Only God knows the future. So when my friend called the psychic back later, and the psychic told her she was going to get pregnant again within a certain amount of time, I boldly told her that this was not going to happen. I explained how we are supposed to trust God with our future because He's the only one in control. I said she wasn't going to get pregnant within the time frame the psychic predicted because he did not have that power to predict. And I was right.
A few years ago, I visited the Winchester Mansion in California with my stepdaughter Kristina. If you haven't heard of it, it's a crazy place with windows in floors, stairs to nowhere, and doors that open up on second stories to nothing like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. It was built 100 years ago by a woman who inherited Winchester Guns. She felt guilty for all the people who had died from the guns, and she had to choose how to deal with it. She could either go to church to talk with a pastor or go to a psychic. She went to a psychic who told her to move west and build a home for all the ghosts of the people killed from her guns. So she did. She also built a séance room where she would meet with these spirits every night, and they would give her the plans for adding onto her home. No actual people ever came through the front door of that home, including a president who knocked on the door and was turned away. She lived in fear the rest of her life when she could have been using her great wealth and position to bring joy to the world. I wonder what her life would have been like if she'd chosen to listen to God instead.
There have been other times I've heard God speak. Like the time when I was still married to my ex and reading my Bible late at night. I got to the verse where Jesus is dying on the cross, and he looks down at his mom and his disciple John, and he says, "Woman, this is your son." I started bawling. Because I KNEW I was going to have an adopted son someday. I told my husband at the time. He said, "God didn't tell me that." So I just started praying for my son. Because whenever there is an adoption, there is a sad story that goes with it. I didn't realize it was going to start with my own sad story of divorce. And it wasn't until I remarried that I realized that because my husband Jim had adopted a son named John when he was 19, I now have an adopted son named John.
Then there was another time when I was still married to my ex, he was having an affair, and there was no peace in my home. I couldn't take it anymore. I stood up and said, "I'm going to Rebecca's to pray, and you better prepare yourself because when I pray, you are going to either get really angry or you are going to waver in your determination to leave me." Then I marched out of the house. It wasn't until I was walking to Rebecca's that I realized she might not be home. Or she might have company. But I knocked on their door and caught her in the five minutes she'd been planning to be home. She took me in and prayed. My ex did get angry, but that's not the important thing. The important thing is that I laughed through the whole prayer time about how ridiculously bold God had made me. It had been a long time since I'd laughed.
God speaks in the shower. He speaks in prayer. He speaks through the Bible. He can also speak through other people.
During the same time in my life, I opened up to the wife of a evangelist. She prayed with me about my crumbling marriage and said, "God has a new husband for you. I don't know if it's the one you are married to or not, but it's going to be good." I wanted it to be my first husband. I wanted him to become new. And I believe this was God's will too. But God gave my ex free will, and my redemption did not depend on his choices. It was so healing to know that God was going to take care of me no matter what. He loves me that much. (Below: Photo of the day Jim proposed.)
Now the trick with this is to not just believe anything anyone says. If someone pointed to you at church on Sunday and said, "God wants you to go to Africa," that doesn't mean you should start packing your bags. It means you need to seek God's direction for yourself. See if this is really His will. Because nobody else is responsible for our relationship with God. It's on us. But as you can see, everything above has lined up with reality. This isn't stuff I could make up on my own.
One other time I was a single mom living in a dumpy area of town, and I had no time to go to the gym, so I'd jog before my kids got up in the morning. I hate jogging, but I had a route I liked to follow. I'd pray and jog. One day I felt God telling me to take a different route. I didn't want to. I actually said out loud something like, "Really, Lord?" But I obeyed. And he led me to the rim above the most beautiful park in Boise. I hadn't known I was so close to such beauty. But God knew. And He didn't want me to miss it.
At this point, I want to say that despite my love for God and his leading, I haven't walked this road perfectly. Not even close. I try to do my own thing. A lot. I get confused. A lot. I feel helpless. A lot. Which is why I have to remind myself of these stories. Just like the Bible constantly reminds the children of Israel about how he rescued them from the Egyptians. Because sometimes we go through a desert in life.
God never leaves us to deal with these things alone though. Even as I wrote this, the doorbell rang with the postman delivering a book from author Tricia Goyer. I'd been praying the other morning about some struggles I'm facing, and she randomly pinged me on fb to offer me a free advanced copy of her book Walk it Out. (Pre-order special here.) I knew it was an answer to prayer, and I asked her how she knew I needed it. She said, "I was praying who needed this book and you showed up on FB." Thank you, Tricia. I'm already blessed.
Remembering God's faithfulness gives me faith. Faith He's got things under control. Faith to keep seeking him even when I'm not hearing anything or his promises haven't come to pass yet.
God spoke to me in the shower again recently. I'd been praying about an idea. I'd asked others to pray. I was actually in the shower when I felt God telling me he had an answer in scripture for me. I got out of the shower and opened my Bible randomly. I opened to a page with a star already next to a verse. The verse spoke directly to the question I'd been asking.
I closed my Bible and started shaking and crying. Because it was crazy to think that God loved me that much and was that good to give me the answer I'd been afraid to believe. But He is.
I'm actually still waiting for that word to come true. It will involve someone else, and God is probably going to have to speak to them about this too. But I believe that whether they hear God or not, this is God's intention for me. And even if it doesn't happen the way I think it should (which it probably won't), God's got a Plan B for me. Or perhaps it's His Plan A for my Plan B.
These are some examples of how God speaks to me. My husband hears Him speak in more of "red flag" kind of way. Like Jim just KNOWS we need to get the septic tank pumped now even though we should have another year, then the plumber comes and says, "Yeah, you would have had problems if you waited one more day." We were telling this to my mom yesterday, and she joked to Jim, "Well it's good God speaks to you practically because that way you can balance out Angela who likes to live in La La Land."