“And I heard the voice of the Lord…” Isaiah 6:8
When I was a sophomore in high school, a Sunday School teacher said during class one morning that God does not speak to us today. “We have the Bible. That is the Word of God. It’s all we need.”
Everyone else in the room bobbed their heads in agreement, just accepting what the guy said without even thinking about it. I balked.
I just couldn’t swallow it. It didn’t seem right. It didn’t seem fair. It didn’t seem consistent. If God talked to people in Bible times, why couldn’t He or why wouldn’t He talk to us today?
And besides all that, I remembered the story my grandmother, Mimi, told me about a time when God talked directly to her.
It was a long time ago and I’m not clear about some of the details, but this is the basic story. Mimi’s son, my Uncle Harvey, and his wife, my Aunt Clara, were expecting baby number three or four. She planned to fly from Texas to Washington, D.C. a week or two before the baby was due. But as the time approached for her trip, it came to her to change her plans. This was in the 1960’s when changing your flight at the last minute was no big deal.
I can still her telling me, “God told me to go a day earlier. So I did.”
As the plane approached the D.C. area, the Captain announced that severe weather would cause delays and that the airport was closed because of the storm and their flight would be redirected to the other D.C. airport. There was a lot of consternation among the passengers. My grandmother began to pray earnestly for the safe arrival of all flights trying to land. At one point she looked out her window and saw a full circle rainbow. That was her answer. It was God’s promise that everything would work out okay.
As it turned out, her son, who was on his way to pick her up, had the radio on in his car and heard the announcement that all flights were being sent to the other airport. He changed course and got there just as his mother was getting her luggage. They drove back to his home in Maryland. Just as they arrived my aunt went into labor. Uncle Harvey then jumped back in the car and raced his wife to the hospital and barely made it in time.
Mimi was there to take care of the other kids. If she had come a day later, as originally planned, it would have been a pretty stressful situation without someone to stay with the kids. All this had happened because she heard God tell her to go a day earlier.
I tried to share this story with the Sunday School teacher, but didn’t do a very good job. He dismissed it and held his ground. Within a year, I left that church.
We can hear God’s voice
Not too long after that Sunday School experience, this same grandmother called me to tell me what God had said to her. I was planning to drive down to visit her the next day and had just gotten a tune-up for my car. As I drove away from the service garage, there was a funny sound coming from the engine. I didn’t know anything about cars, so I just kept driving and figured it would be okay.
I went over to my aunt’s house and was playing cards with my cousin when the phone rang. Mimi said she had been calling everyone she could think of to find me. This was years before cell phones. God had told her there was something wrong with my car. I was flabbergasted. How did she know?
She told me to look under the hood. I laughed to myself because there was no way I could figure out what was wrong with my car. Well, when I looked under the hood, it was obvious. They had put in new spark plugs, but one of them was not completely connected. I reconnected it and all was fine. I was so impressed with my grandmother. And so grateful that she could hear God’s voice.
I learned from her that God does talk to us today and that we can hear His voice.
There have been many times when this has been true for me. When I was in college and had to make some serious choices about what to major in and other life related issues, I spent a couple of weeks making pro and con lists of all the possibilities. I changed my mind about every other day as to what I would do. They were all good choices. It was a virtual merry-go-round trying to decide and it was spinning faster and faster. In desperation I finally prayed, “God, what do You want me to do? What will bless the most in the long run?” Instantly God gave me the solution that addressed all the issues. And there was no more uncertainty. Poof! Just like that. God spoke to me and I heard it because I was finally ready to listen.
I heard God talk to me
I’ll share one more very specific time when I heard God talk to me. I was a new dad and had just taken my daughter to swim class at the YMCA. Next we went to Costco. When we got back to the car after shopping, it was locked and I didn’t have my keys. No, the keys were not in the ignition or anywhere to be seen. My wife, who had the other set of keys, was in New York City and we were in Connecticut. Again, this was in the days before cell phones.
We retraced our steps in the store and asked at the customer service desk if any keys had been turned in. No keys! We went back to the car. I must have checked all my pockets 10 or 15 times. I looked under the car. Finally I asked God, “What do I do?” Even if I called a taxi to take us home, I would have to call a locksmith to get into our house.
Here’s what God said to me: “Walk to the end of your car. Turn right. Walk three cars and turn right again.” I followed these simple directions and there were my keys on the pavement next to the curb. I was incredibly grateful to have my keys, but was more in awe that God had told me exactly what to do.
Of course I could have asked God from the very first what to do, both with the decision about what to study in college and what to do about my lost keys, but I thought I could figure it out myself. I think we are much more apt to hear God’s voice when we have tried everything else and finally realize we need His help.
The times I hear God speaking to me are usually when I have exhausted all other efforts and resources without getting an answer to my problem. Or when I just ask direct questions like, “What do You think about that, God?” or “God, how do You see that person?”
Going forward, I would like to turn to God more readily, before things get really bad. I need to ask Him first instead of as a last resort.
Sometimes we don’t want God to talk to us because we’re afraid of what He will say. Either we have done something we shouldn’t have or not done something we should have. But the sooner we can eat that piece of humble pie on our plate and listen for His voice, even it’s a rebuke, the sooner we will get things sorted out in our lives. (And as far as rebukes go, ultimately I’d rather be rebuked by God, who loves me and wants the best for me, than flattered by people who only care about themselves.)
You can hear God’s voice
The Bible is full of people who talked to God and heard His voice. Does God change? No. Did God quit talking to His children? No. God is always talking to us in one way or another. It could be a rainbow or a daffodil. It could be the smile and giggle of a baby. It could be a quiet voice in your heart telling you what to do next. It could be a friend that says just the right thing when you need it most.
God is talking to you. You may not have even realized it. Or maybe you have an ongoing conversation with Him.
I’d love to hear about your experience. What have you found to be helpful in hearing His voice?