I find it interesting that in my most turbulent season of faith, I have had more deep conversations about my relationship with God than I ever have in my life. I think maybe it’s the very fact that I am open with my current struggles in areas of my faith that people have been comfortable with talking to me about their own. No one wants to hear from someone who has it all together and I am definitely far from having it all together.
From my experience of losing Jon I have found myself wanting to believe things about God that I know are not true. In this season have felt lied to and betrayed by the God I have spent my life serving. If I am honest, I have been struggling to trust Him with my life again. I couldn’t explain what I mean more succinctly than this:
“Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God is really like. Deceive yourself no longer.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
But the thing is, even though I have been walking through the valley of the shadow of death these past seven months, I have basked in the brilliant light of His goodness much longer before I arrived in this place. So while I’m still working my way through the shadow and fighting off thoughts that I know are untrue, I know His light is real and I am heading towards it.
I wish I could say that I have been making spending time with God a priority these days, but I haven’t. Aside from short prayers here and there our relationship has been pretty one sided. While I haven’t been seeking Him, He has been relentlessly pursuing me. He frequently ambushes me in the car. I think its because there isn’t much to distract me. (I mean, my biggest distraction is literally strapped down in her car seat where she can’t get into things lol.)
A couple days ago I was feeling particularly overwhelmed. The song “Ooh child things are gonna get easier..” came on the radio and immediately I felt Jesus saying that He was singing it to me. But not all serious like the version I was hearing on the radio. No no. I saw Jesus singing / dancing it badly and then realized He was doing this scene from Guardians of the Galaxy.
(The clip is only 1 minute long so you should definitely watch it)
Because that is totally how God breaks through dispair, with laughter. As I re-watched the scene so I could embed it here I laughed again. That scene is totally what was happening in the car as I was driving. The bad guy, aka my thoughts about my current situation, was being all dark and intimidating and then comes Jesus in the form of Chris Pratt who completely throws off the whole villain monologue with his complete lack of respect for darkness and brooding thoughts. Side Note: I’m pretty sure I was Gomorrah (the green chick) in that scene thinking, “What the heck are you doing?”
I love that God uses the things we know and love to speak to us individually. He talks to me through stories like Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice. He talks to me through nature, especially the ocean and the sky. He purposely sends things our way that He knows will speak to our hearts.
I remember one time I was walking trails in Tennessee, not saying anything to God or hearing anything from Him, just enjoying His presence in the nature around me. When all of the sudden two birds swooped down in front of me, danced in circles just long enough for me to stop and watch and then dove into the trees. I looked where they went and found myself staring into the eyes of the most beautiful owl. He was sitting there silent and still staring right at me. I would have walked by him if not for the birds pointing me right to him. I stood there captivated by its delicate beauty for some time before continuing down the trail. As I stepped away I heard God whisper, “That was just for you my darling.”
I have told stories like this to people in the past and they’ve seemed to think that I hear from God all of the time because I am some sort of lucky “chosen one”. But the truth is I never had these encounters until I was taught how to hear Him.
God is constantly speaking to everyone, it’s just most of us just don’t recognize it. I grew up in a Christian home, went to church all of my life, read the entire Bible countless times by the time I was 16 and I never knew what it looked like to have a two sided conversation with God until I was in my 20s. Soon after learning how to hear Him I wrote this description of what His voice sounded like
The voice of God comes to me as a whisper of a thought. It lightly brushes past my consciousness and if it’s not caught quickly it flutters away like a feather in the wind. When I catch it and hold it in my hands its like a small speck of light that grows ever more brilliant until its so overwhelming that I must look away. He sounds like my own thoughts, only kinder and more gentle. He says things that are surprising and beautiful. His words are life and when I listen, I can feel the soil of my soul become richer and the roots of my character growing deeper, ever stronger. His voice reminds me of the scent of Jasmine or Orange Blossom drifting through the windows of my spirit on a breezy summer afternoon. Its subtle and wonderful. He sounds like the ocean tide rolling upon the dunes at midnight, soft, silent, and peaceful but at the same time containing unthinkable power, magnitude, and depth. His voice can shake the universe and yet He leans in closely and whispers sweet nothings in my ear. This is how my God speaks. – December 9, 2011 at 6:05pm
I have since taught on this topic many times. It’s something I am very passionate about because I believe knowing how to communicate personally with the God you are serving is kinda important. My faith has become so much richer and deeper because of that knowledge and I know for a fact that if I did not have this skill I would not be making it through this season as well as I have been.
When I teach any topic I use a ridiculous amount of slides. Here are two from my How to Hear God’s Voice keynote. I always start off with this verse because I love the imagery.
As a Florida girl I am quite familiar with sand. I spent a large chunk of my childhood playing on the beach. No matter how well you rinse off afterwards, somehow a decent amount of sand follows you home. I love the math of this verse. If God has more thoughts towards us than the grains of sand, that means if we were to start listening right now and never stop for the rest of our lives, God would not run out of things to say. In fact, He would have a bunch more to say when we arrived home.
The other thing I love about the sand analogy can only be seen under a microscope. These images above are of sand. To the naked eye each grain of sand looks about the same. But in reality, every grain is unique. So not only does God never run out of things to say to us, each thought He has towards us is just as wonderfully and beautifully unique as the sand in these pictures.
I could go on and on about this topic and maybe I will in future posts, but this blog is getting long and it’s getting late. I want to end with this encouragement. If you want to hear from God, He will speak to you. Not if you’re lucky, not if He is in the mood, no “if’s”. All you have to do is position your heart to listen and be on the lookout for his response. It will likely come in an unexpected form, but I promise. He wants you to hear Him more than you do.
Ps. Seriously, if you have questions about this, feel free to ask me. Don’t feel bad. Asking me about my God is like asking a football fanatic to talk about his favorite team.