Tag Archives: hearing God

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Over the years since I began conversing with God, I have had many doubts.  Are these conversations real?  Is God really talking with me?  Am I crazy?  One thought which could not take hold was that I was talking with evil spirits.  The voice I was hearing was a voice of love, and my heart responded to that love.  My love language is communication.  A God who both listens and talks with me won my heart.

This past summer, I stopped hearing God.  I do not say God stopped speaking, but I stopped hearing.  It was devastating.  Just as a tree grows in response to light, I had grown amazingly in response to God's love and His giving of Himself to me in communication.  Though I wasn't hearing His voice, I had the understanding that God was allowing my fears to grow so I could see them for the lies they were and reject them.  I knew I had been holding onto both faith and doubt.  I had to make a decision.  The picture I had was of a garden with small weeds continuing to steal nutrition from the true vegetables.  With God's help, I was plucking up the weeds before they could grow big, but they always snapped off and left the roots behind.  God wanted to remove the roots.

A few years back, God asked me what doubt is.  I didn't know.  Was doubt the same as unbelief?  With the help of my husband and BibleWorks software, I hunted for the answer.  I learned something interesting.  The Greek word for doubt basically means to sit in judgment listening to the evidence on both sides of an argument.  It means you haven't decided yet which is true.  You're considering.  The writer George MacDonald considered doubt an important part of our Spiritual development.  Without the process of doubt, we could never reach the truth.  Jesus brought doubt with Him.  Can the law really save you?  You say you keep the law, but if you break it in your heart, you are breaking the law.  If you break just one bit of the law you are breaking the whole of the law.  Can the law really save you?  If no one had doubted and considered Jesus' questions, no one could have come to faith in Him.

Doubt is important to our Spiritual development, but the purpose of doubt must be accomplished.  We must make a decision.  What do we believe?  We cannot keep endlessly listening to arguments.  We must make a decision, a firm decision.  God told me, we have to shut the door behind us and begin to walk down the path we've chosen.  He assured me, even if I made the wrong decision, He could lead me to a turn around place.  I thought about how often when driving we have to go the wrong direction for a time in order to get to the right place.  God told me to start walking, and He would go with me.  So I decided to walk down the path with God and talk with Him.  While we walked, He invited me to ask Him any questions and tell Him why I continued to doubt.

We walked and talked together for two years.  God more than answered every objection I had for Him.  Then He rested His case.  It was time for me to make a decision.  I had to choose whether I would believe what He said or what I had always understood in the past.  I knew what I wanted to chose.  God's words and His presence are beautiful.  What I couldn't figure out was what to do with the doubt I still had.  I tried to wrestle with it and make it go away.  It wouldn't go.  I agonized.  I waited.  I accused God of not helping me.

Finally I asked God one more question.  What do I do with the doubt?  Instantly, I was standing in front of my Grandfather's barn.  A vision like this was a new experience for me, but I knew it was God.  Um, why am I here?  "Climb up into the hayloft."  I climbed into the hayloft.  It was filled with golden light and hay and haydust.  I waited a minute; then um, what do I do here?  "Lay down and rest."  I lay down.  I waited a minute; then um, why am I in the hayloft?  I don't get it.  Instantly, I was in front of the barn again.  I saw the barn -- hayloft above, barn floor below.  The hayloft was dusty, but clean.  The barn floor was nasty.  You really want galoshes/gum boots to walk there.  As I looked, I heard, "You stay in the hayloft.  I will deal with the barn floor."  I realized that I had been mucking about on the barn floor of my doubts.  I was trying to rid myself of the filth of my doubts and was only getting more mired.  My place is to dwell on my faith and to nurture it by resting in God's light, in His life-giving presence.  The only decision I need to make is to continue to listen to and to respond to His voice, to continue to walk in His presence, to focus on what is true rather than on all the doubts the world would throw at me.

Over the years as I have conversed with God, I have many times had others say they longed for that kind of communication with God.  I have said that God loves to communicate with His children including them.  Several times, I have been asked, But what if you don't believe He communicates with you?  I haven't known what to answer.  These are people whom I love.  I want them to have what I have.  I'm a woman.  I love community gab sessions.  My conversations tend to be heavily spiked with God talk rather than gossip, but that's because gossip is boring and old hand.  It may be a new person, but the news is old.  The things I'm hearing are NEWS.  I love talking them over with others.  I have longed to answer their question but haven't known how.  The answer is that the question is wrong.  Instead of looking at ourselves and at the sin and unbelief at work within us, we need to look at God, the Good Father, who is love.  Love communicates.  All we can do is think on these things.  If we long to communicate with God, then that longing is something we inherited from Him.  He promised that His sheep hear His voice.  Our longing for Him tells us we are His sheep.  Don't be afraid to listen to the voice of love that is already speaking to you.

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While we were in Nebraska four years ago, I was very concerned about one of our students.  This student had a friendship that seemed very unhealthy and which was affecting her in many areas, including her school work.  She was also struggling with panic attacks.  These were issues I felt were very pressing and needed to be resolved immediately.  As I prayed for her, these issues were in the front of my mind.

When I prayed for each student, I would think of all I knew about the student and lay it before God and then ask God to show me how to pray specifically for that student.  God would bring Scriptures to my mind, and I would pray these Scriptures over the student.  Then I would write the student a card sharing the verses I had prayed for her or him.

For this student, God gave me three Scriptures.  The first was Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3.  Paul prayed that the Ephesians would be rooted and established in love.  The second was from Hosea 2, where Israel's name is changed from "not loved" to "loved".  The third was Zephaniah 3:17, which speaks of God rejoicing over us with singing.

Because I was concerned for the student, and because she had requested prayer regarding the panic attacks, I found myself praying for this student many times.  Each time I would ask God how to pray, He gave me the same three verses, so I would pray them for her.  But, when I would try to pray that God would remove her from the unhealthy friendship and set her free from panic attacks, I would feel God telling me not to pray those things.

At first, I prayed as He told me and let go of my thoughts for her, but after a few times, I remember being very frustrated.  I felt very clearly that God didn't want me to pray regarding the things I felt were vitally urgent, but I didn't know why.  So as I was praying that day, I burst out, "Why won't You let me pray that You remove these things?  They are clearly bad for her, but You won't let me ask that You remove them."  Immediately, I heard, "The wheat and the tares."

The wheat and the tares (weeds) was a parable.  A man had sown wheat in his fields, and an enemy had sown weeds in the same field.  The servants asked their master whether they should remove the weeds, and he said no, that would uproot the wheat.  I saw that God was asking me to pray that her roots would be strengthened so that the weeds might be safely removed.  I remembered then that doctors often delay important surgery until the patient is strong enough for it.

Over the next few days, I came to understand even more.  I was reading through the books of Moses.  I saw how powerful God's holiness is.  It is so strong, people died by encountering it.  I saw that God told His people He wouldn't drive out the former inhabitants of the promised land too quickly, or wild animals would increase too much.  I remembered the passage about the demon who was cast out only to return with seven more.  I came to understand that God was saying He would not remove anything from a person's heart too quickly.  He would not remove anything until the person was strong enough for Him to replace the thing with Himself.  I came to understand that He enters our hearts slowly and gradually as we are strengthened.

I also saw that truly, this student was not ready for Him to remove the panic attacks and the friendship.  To her, they were supplying a need.  She did not know, except in theory, God's love for her, His deep valuing of her.  If God removed the friend, who seemed to value her, and the panic attacks, which seemed part of who she was, she would be left with nothing, and that would be devastating.  But as God's love for her became tangible to her, that love would drive out panic and right her friendships.

What amazes me most about this revelation is God's love.  He ignores what we would address – the lifestyle and emotional changes.  Instead, He focuses on communicating His love for us.  He wants His love to so saturate us that it reaches the deepest places of our hearts.  Where we would say, "Change.  Change.  Change."  or "God loves you. Change.  Change."  He says, "I love you.  I love you.  I love you."   And it is that love which is transforming.

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(continued from part 1)

God is the God who says, "Come away with me to a quiet place and rest." He is the God who told Martha that Mary had chosen the better way. He is the God who said, "Let the little children come to me." Jesus said, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." When Jesus said these things, the Father said these things. In the prophets, God cried out that He longs to hear us call Him Father. But even reading these things, I didn't understand.

One day, one of our daughters was asking why the word LORD is often in all caps in the Bible. My husband loves that kind of question, so he began to explain to our children how the Hebrew names of God are translated. Now two days before, a Kenyan friend had told me that her husband was having some time off work and had asked her to let their houseworker off so that they could have some family time. I understood. We do the same thing. Well my husband got to the name Lord GOD, and said that it could be translated Lord LORD.

In that moment, I heard God speak. He said, "You've always been afraid of the 'Lord, Lord' passage." Well, that was certainly true. He continued, "You have always thought that I was saying, 'You haven't worked hard enough; get away from me.' That is not true. I am saying, 'It is family time; let the slaves and servants go.' I knew that He was saying, 'If all you ever do with me is ask me for a list of things to do, then leave. This is family time, play time, I want the people who have gotten to know me.' He was also saying, "You've always tried to be my slave, but you're not a very good one. You aren't meant to be a slave. You are meant to be a child. Be my child."

It is hard to put into words exactly what God says. Sometimes, I hear words and other times, thoughts; sometimes, I see a picture or have a story come to mind. One thought that began to come to mind is that I try to earn my rest. After my work is done, I can rest. But I started to see that we have to work from rest. I had this thought, "You don't say to a car, earn your petrol (gas)." We can never earn our rest. It is a gift.

I also began to understand the Hebrew day, which begins at sundown. What happens in families at sundown? The evening meal, the family fun time, bedtime. All restful. In the Hebrew week, there are six days, each beginning with rest followed by work, which culminate in the seventh day, the weekly Sabbath, a day of complete rest and celebration.

One day, my friend Joyce told me a story. She had asked God, "Do you play?" and God told her to watch her husband. At that time, Joyce opened her front door to go out but saw something that made her shut it immediately. She said, "Don't open the door. The cat has a mouse and wants to hide it in the house." William, Joyce's husband, whispered to her, "Watch this." He opened the door and shut it quickly while tossing a small ball across the floor. He yelled, "A mouse!" Their daughters began to shriek. At that moment, God leaned over to Joyce and said, "I am a Father."

One of the hardest things I have done has been sitting on top of my children's toys to play, without saying anything about the room. The interesting thing to me has been that as I play with them, the children are much more willing to work with me. Also interesting is that I am more rested and able to work as well.

(read part 1)

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Every great love story has an obstacle which must be overcome.  In my relationship with God, the obstacle has been my sense of obligation and my sense of who I was.  I was the prodigal son, who came home to proclaim myself no longer fit to be a son, but only fit to be a slave.  I accepted the party of welcome, then set about trying to make up for my betrayal of my Father by my servitude.  I became a slave, endeavoring to please my Father.

I was convinced I ought to love God, and yet I thought I was by nature incapable of doing what I ought.  I knew that love acts in certain ways, so I thought I must make myself act in those ways.  I did not understand that love for God would grow naturally.  I did not understand that I was fertile soil in which God had planted His seed of love.  Everything the seed needed to grow was in place.  The seed just required time.

Instead, I thought I was only fit to be a slave.  I held as my mantra the verse, "There is none good, no not one."  When God tried to assure me of His love and to claim me as His Daughter, I basically waved that verse at Him and refused to believe Him.

One day, God told me to go look up that verse.  I went to the computer, opened BibleWorks, and hunted for the verse.  It wasn't in any single translation.  Instead, I found "There is none that doeth good, no not one."  (I am still trying to figure out how I, and my sisters, memorized the verse incorrectly.  Part of me wonders whether God just recently fixed a translation error in all translations, both electronic and printed, by His miraculous power.)

Sometimes, I hear a thought in distinct words, and I know it is God speaking.  Other times, when I am afraid to listen to God because what He is saying is too scarily freeing, too different from everything I have believed, God starts nagging at my thoughts with something that won't go away.  This was one of the times when I was afraid to believe God.  It seemed to good to be true.

The thought that nagged at me is this.  A child gets her father's name as her family name.  The Father's name is my name.  My name is Daughter I Am.  My name is not I Do.  At creation, God declared me very good, and that is who I Am.  Though I may do things that are not good, my name is not I Do, so my essence is unchanged.  I am who I am because I am my Father's Daughter, and He made me very good.

When the rich young ruler came and knelt before Jesus, he called Jesus "good teacher."  Jesus asked him, "Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone."  This passage always bothered me.  Isn't Jesus good?  Didn't the ruler get it right here?  Why is Jesus challenging him?  Was Jesus challenging him to recognize Jesus as God?  Lately, I've begun to wonder.  What if Jesus was also challenging him to consider the tightly held belief that only God is good and man is bad?  What if Jesus was challenging him to consider Genesis 1:31, in which God saw all that He had made and declared it very good?

I think God is asking me whether my family name is I Am or I Do.  He is asking me to choose.  I can choose to keep the name given me by the Father of Lies, or I can accept the name bequeathed to me by my true Father.  It seems too scarily beautiful to believe, but my heart longs to believe.