How Does God Speak to His People? (Part 2)

As I sit in my gated off kitchen cleaning up puppy pee every three minutes, I wonder when in the world I had time to write a whole blog about the possibility of hearing from God?? That “life of leisure” is a distant memory today.

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But the new normal in this season got me thinking — can one only hear from God in the silence? In the calm seasons of life? When the conditions are perfect, the candles are lit, the coffee is freshly brewed, no kids are awake and no puppies are peeing?

Or is it also possible to hear from God in the midst of the chaos? In the storms of life?

I have to believe the answer is YES. To both.

Silence/solitude is SERIOUSLY IMPORTANT for hearing the still small voice. If some kind of silence isn't naturally grafted into the mix of our daily routines, we must figure out a way to carve it out.  Sometimes that means putting the puppy in a crate and going into another room, getting a babysitter and heading to your local coffee shop, or asking those you love to give you a hot minute alone to think and process. It may not be a long amount of time, and that's okay, because God can breathe His Spirit on you in an instant -- if you are open to the possibility and allow Him access to your soul. 

Hearing from God isn't necessarily about the DURATION of time, but it always requires SOME time.  

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Time alone, to recharge and reconnect with God, is non-negotiable (however creatively you can enter the space) if you want to practice the relational art of hearing from God. Especially in this day and age when the input from everything else can be 24/7.

If I don't seriously make ways to spend time with God, even if it's just listening to worship music in the car, I notice my stress level begin to creep up from "kinda hanging in there" to "she's gonna blow" in no time flat. This is majorly NOT PRETTY for me or any of my proximate beloveds. 

And, yes, on the flip side, God can break through the noise and find us even in spite of the crazy. We may just have to be a little more intentional about taking a deep breath and asking the Father to reveal himself in that moment. We can often find God in the embrace of a trusted friend, the kind word of a stranger or the emotional impact of a beloved song. But we won't recognize it's Him if we're not aware of the possibility that it could be!

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So -- Just how does God find us? Speak to us? Compel us? Move us? Engage with us?

Like I mentioned in my first post, it could be SO. MANY. THINGS!! I found a wonderful article that describes eight ways God can speak to us today. (Feel free to pop over and read it on your own to further develop these ideas.) But the gist is this -- God can speak to us, find us, move us, compel us to action through:

1. His Word (Scripture)

2. His Son, Jesus Christ

3. Nature & Creation

4. Other Christian Believers

5. Music

6. Personal Circumstances

7. The Holy Spirit

8. Prayer

And I'm going to add a 9th! JOURNALING.

Journaling became EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to me in discerning the voice of God several years ago, when we were seeking God's word for us regarding adoption.

One day, August 23 to be exact, I sensed a clear impression from the Lord that I was not to go about my daily to-do list, but rather stay home and spend the day fasting (from food and social media) and engaging in prayer and reading Scripture. That day I wrote down every verse I could find regarding the themes of "adoption" or "orphan." Turns out God has a lot to say on the subject. Go figure.

A couple months later, Scott came home from a Young Life retreat with a vision that could only have come from God because we would NOT have thought of this on our own. Scott told me every time he thought about our future family, the Lord gave him a vision that we were to adopt two kids! What in the world?? That was definitely not our idea. 

As we carefully sought God's lead on this one, and mentioned to our adoption agency that we MIGHT, MAYBE, POSSIBLY be open to the idea of two kids, they said they had several sibling groups available and would we want to see any pictures? Like that very day! As we sifted through the pictures, our hearts were IMMEDIATELY drawn to a brother and sister pair. The young boy's bright eyes beamed and his young sister looked up at him with an adoring smile. When I looked at the date at the top of the page, I saw that their birth mother had relinquished them to the orphanage on -- AUGUST 23rd!  The Holy Spirit sent a shiver through my veins. Coincidence? I think not. We sensed a clear leading that Kelel and Senait were supposed to be in our family. 

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When they got home however, and all hell broke loose due to the deep grief and trauma our kids experienced, we wondered if we heard God right at all?? How could this have been God's plan? Life wasn't "better" for anyone. In fact, it felt much worse. 

Since we brought our kids home in December, this time of year is profoundly special to me because I vividly remember the darkness that ran through our house in that season, a heaviness so counter to the sparkle and shine of Christmas. But now, six years later, after much hard work, healing and unconditional love, I feel the grace of God over our family in so many ways! Now, when we dress up and sit in church, worshipping calmly as a family on Christmas Eve, my eyes always well with tears at the gracious goodness of the Father. The transformation is not lost on me. 

I can't have you thinking it's all that perfect.... #truelife

I can't have you thinking it's all that perfect.... #truelife

Hearing from God is not always this over-the-top. In fact, I don’t have many stories that are this overt.

Recently, one of my children was having a very hard time with friends and I was stumped as to what she should do so I simply said, “Let’s pray about it.” We bowed our heads and asked the Lord for his divine wisdom and intervention on this issue. Trusting, hoping that He would download some divine wisdom. Thirty minutes later, she bounded into the kitchen and declared, “I believe Jesus is real!” I said, “Really?! What happened?” She went on to tell me she had just received a text (out of the blue) from another friend involved in the drama offering grace and answers to the problem. Again. God moved through prayer. 

Not one of the aforementioned ways of hearing from God is "better" than the other, rather an awareness and engagement with all of the above creates the most holistic and soul-filling way of relating to Him. Of bringing about the abundant life.

However, let me be clear.

If you are a Christian, belief in, acknowledgment of, and surrender to Jesus is paramount in order to connect with the Father. 

The glory of nature can speak to any of us of something greater. Beautiful music can move even the most stoic of us. Other people can impart profound wisdom across the board -- regardless of our personal view of faith and theology. Even those who don't believe in Jesus, have their own form of prayer as they send good thoughts or meditate. Mindfulness is generally universally accepted and encouraged as a healthy practice -- even by Christians!

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But, I would suggest, the game changers in this list are: the WORD of God, JESUS CHRIST, and the HOLY SPIRIT. Of these three, there is no substitute. There can be no "fence riding" here. 

To be honest, it feels extremely hard to write those words. Faith is a personal journey. I would never want to insinuate that someone who doesn't believe in Jesus doesn't hear from God. When in fact, I believe the opposite can be true. God speaks to all His children.

The question is -- when you hear/sense something that feels like it might be supernatural, something greater than logic or reason, to what or to who do you attribute that thing? Do you call it wisdom? A higher being? Other? Or do you name the name of Jesus Christ?

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For me, calling on the name of Jesus is paramount to hearing from God. There is no other name in heaven or on earth that compares to His. Holly's girls saw Him standing behind her the day before Dave died. My own son, Kelel, told us he saw Jesus in our dining room after a particularly rough day when he first came home. I can't explain it. It just is. Jesus. Is.

In my previous post, regarding discerning if what we ‘hear’ is from God or not, Christina commented, “The reason I attribute it to the Lord is that the idea was something I couldn't have come up with on my own and it was consistent with scripture and what I know about the character of God.”

That right there is a pretty good litmus test to beginning to figure out how God speaks to you.

If the answer to these ideas is, YES. Perhaps you shouldn't brush it off too quickly. Ask God if it's Him. Ask Him to confirm His voice. Often, He will confirm His word to you 2 or 3 times through various mediums. Same message. Different medium. 

Did you open your bible and find the very verse your pastor preached on that week? (Maybe God is saying something to you!) Did you have a thought that you should call a certain person and then that person "randomly" texts you? (Perhaps God is orchestrating something.) Do you have a strong impression you are supposed to go to the store at that very time instead of waiting until later like you planned, only to run into someone you had a great conversation with, knowing God must have orchestrated the whole thing? (Maybe God knew that encounter would minister to you both in deep ways.) Do you have an unction to be generous with money and then you receive an email from a friend that she is raising money for a mission trip? (Again -- God?!) 

Of course, these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. He speaks to us in as many ways as there are individuals on this earth!

Heaven knows I won't always "get it right," but the idea that I could hear from God at any moment of the day - even in the midst of the washing and the folding and the pee cleaning - is enough to get me looking at life a little differently!

**So what about you?! How do you hear from God? How might He be speaking to you even now?  I would love to hear what you think....

Holly's Take:

Oh good gracious!  The story of bringing your kids home after hearing from God and being so sure that he was orchestrating the whole deal . . . to get home and question it all???????  I'd be lying if I hadn't wondered about the validity of God's call to adopt Macie, even though I was SURE He was all over that.  And am I the only one who feels like I might have not heard correctly in marrying my husband?  It hasn't been easy and lovely, like I thought it would be.  I thought if I heard God say, "go for it," with adoption and marrying Tony, shouldn't it all be amazing at best and slightly uncomfortable at worst?  And then there was this puzzling story from this guy I knew, whose family made the bold move to move their family overseas to become missionaries, only to move back months later, when he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes??? Did his parents wonder if they got their lines crossed with God???  Is your next post on these situations, Megan? Do we get the hearing wrong, sometimes? Or do lives on earth just make no sense, until we get to heaven? 

Or is it true, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts," Isaiah 55:8-9.  Was Jesus tempted to ask that as he was hanging on the cross?  "God, did I get that wrong the other day, when I thought you heard me say to tell people to say, 'I and the Father are one.' (John 10:30). If I hadn't said that and a few other things, I thought you were urging me to say, maybe I wouldn't be in this predicament."  Was there even ever a flash of anything like that in Jesus human mind?  Or was he so trusting of God, that no matter what, he trusted God, no matter the comfort level of his life. This isn't where I was going with your post initially, but this is where I felt God was leading me. Hopefully, I didn't get it wrong. ;) 

Christina’s Take:

Megan, you do an incredible job putting possibly the most indescribable concept into words! And if I were to ATTEMPT to put my sense of whether hearing from God is possible I would say:

I have had one experience back in college on a study-abroad trip to Europe.  I was taking a run on a lonely, isolated country road in Holland with my bright yellow Sony Walkman cassette tape player when all-of-the-sudden I knew FOR SURE - NO DOUBT - ABSOLUTELY that I was not alone. But it wasn’t a creepy sensation...it was intensely personal and -well- warm. I came back to the place where I was staying with some other students and I remember looking around like maybe they would notice that I was a completely different person than before I left for my run that day....completely assured, now, of the presence of Jesus in my midst. I access that important marker in my journey of faith often - it’s part of how I continue in it (faith, I mean).