I didn't know that hearing God's voice was possible
It was the Spring of 2010 and Jamie and I had been serving in full-time vocational ministry together for six years. Our oldest daughter, Hazel, was a little over a year and Jamie was pregnant with Hank. We began to sense that our season in the role we were in might be coming to an end, and we were pretty scared about what that might mean. Our premarital counselor had told us that, as followers of Jesus, when it comes to decision-making, we should “discern” rather than “decide”. I had never tried this discernment thing out, but I wanted to give it a shot. This was a big decision and we wanted to be led by God.
This is when things got a little tricky for me, because discernment is based on hearing God’s voice. I call it my “Oh Crap” moment. I had told hundreds of kids about the relationship that Jesus was longing to have with them, but now I was looking at myself in the mirror wondering if I had a relationship with him. I prayed, which I understood as talking to God, but I never listened. I didn’t even know hearing God’s voice was possible.
This moment was the beginning of a beautiful journey.
I was a faithful and passionate full-time minister that was giving my life to introduce students to Jesus. I loved God and served him well and I had the best of intentions. But the reality was, I actually didn’t know God, I just knew a lot about him. I had never heard his voice, and since relationships are two-way, I realized that I didn’t really have a relationship with him.
So with this new awareness of the state of my beliefs, I began reading books on hearing God’s voice, asking many friends how they hear from God, seeking out mentors, and began trying to listen to him. And not surprising... God met me in the seeking. I also began to notice that God spoke to humanity throughout the entire narrative of the Scriptures and that interactive relationship was God’s intention when he created us.
I began to distinguish the gentle nudges He would give me. He kindly began speaking to me with words and pictures that led to incredible transformation within me. Then I began to listen as I prayed for others, and he would share wisdom for the people for whom I prayed. As I began to have this experiential knowledge of hearing God’s voice, my beliefs grew and my relationship with God was transformed.
Hearing from God was the starting point, but that led me to wrestle with my beliefs regarding prayer and the Holy Spirit. I thought I believed in the Holy Spirit and the Trinity, but when I took a closer look at my life, my actions, and my experience, I actually didn’t. Like many of my fellow evangelical Bible believing Christians, it was Father, Son, and Holy Scriptures for me. I had no experience and very little understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit.
With prayer, I prayed before meals, over prayer requests, and at gatherings, but I didn’t expect much to happen. I didn’t realize this at the time, but the more I thought about it, I realized I was just going through the motions.
These last six years have been a fun and exciting journey, to say the least. Beginning to interact with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has been completely transformational. It really has changed everything.
Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to be looking at some of my learnings and thoughts regarding all of this hearing from God, Holy Spirit, prayer stuff. I'm calling this series "The S Word" and the "S" word I am referring to is "supernatural". I will lay this all out in next week's post, but what I've sensed is a lot of fear and uncertainty when it comes to the supernatural and I'm wondering if it is because our definition or perspective needs a little tweaking.
You just read a bit about my journey, but what about you? I would love to get some dialogue going in the comments below or please feel free to email me. Here are some potential questions to get the dialogue going: What is your experience of hearing from God? What are your thoughts about it? Do you believe that interactive relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is possible? What fears or barriers do you have?
Also, here are a couple experiments for you to try this week. Remember, there is no failure with experiments. At the worst, you'll learn something, and at the best, you'll hear from your Heavenly Father :)
Ask God, “When have I heard from You?” Then take a few minutes to listen and journal what you hear. If you were like me and you haven’t heard from God or didn’t know it was possible, take some time to journal your thoughts about that.
Try it out- Take 15 minutes and find a quiet place. Ask God these questions:
“Lord, when you look at me, what do you see?” (Remember, you are listening for the Good Shepherd’s voice. If you hear a voice that is condemning and accusing, those are thieves and robbers that want to steal, kill, and destroy with their lies.)
“Lord, as I look ahead at 2017, what do you have for me? Is there anything I should be focused on or are there any themes or Kingdom assignments you have for me this coming year?” (If you would like to do a longer reflection, here is a great resource my friend Travis Collins developed to look at back at 2016 and look forward to 2017: "Love is Everything: A Meditation for the New Year" )
For you readers out there, here are some great resources that have helped me on my journey of hearing from God:
"Hearing God through the Year" - a devotional by Dallas Willard (also an app)
"Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God" -by Dallas Willard
"Can You Hear Me: Tuning into the God who Speaks" -by Brad Jersak
"Surprised by the Voice of God" - by Jack Deere