People ask me a lot “How do you know when God is speaking to you?” I usually respond with, “That’s a very good question.” You know when someone answers a question like that they usually don’t have a very good answer for the very good question.
It’s hard to explain something like this. I usually start by telling them how God loves to repeat Himself to me. I figure since His favorite number is three that’s why He tends to tell me everything three times before I hear it. For example, I’ll get a “word” from God in my inbox via my Verse of the Day subscription. Then I may run across the same verse in a homework session of my current bible study (if it’s a good day and I actually get around to the homework!). And then, ding-a-ling, ring the bell, our pastor uses that very same reference in his Sunday morning message! At this point I usually go, “Duh, I think God’s trying to tell me something.” The light bulb goes on and I discover understanding. It’s a beautiful thing.
But that’s not the only way God speaks. Sometimes it’s more direct. Like a gentle bolt of lightning. You just know it’s God because only He can make lightning gentle, right?
About a year ago God laid a verse of scripture on my heart in a big and heavy way. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I guess I was taught as a child or maybe I just assumed that this was like a recipe for getting wishes granted from God. But notice what happens if you look at it from a different angle. What if God actually gives you the desires He wants for your heart when you delight in Him? Well, that became my constant prayer. “God, please place the desires in my heart that will bring You glory and bring me closer to You in the process. Help me become the person You created me to be.” It was at that point the desire to write began to take root in my heart. At first I struggled with it as I wondered where it came from. (Isn’t that just like us? I mean we ask God for something and when we get it we wonder where it came from? What’s up with that?)
Finally it dawned on me that God was giving me a desire for my heart and I needed to act on it. So, ta-da – this blog was born. Kind of. I’m still trying to get comfortable with this hat I’m apparently wearing now. Thanks for being so patient with me.
One day when God spoke, He sounded like Nicklas. Nicklas is the man who cleans our church building. We love Nicklas, which by the way is his last name, not his first name. It seems that in Haiti, where he was born, that’s the way they do it. We don’t argue, we just call him Nicklas. We’ve formed a friendship, Nicklas and I. I make him coffee and he lets me know when it’s time to order more toilet paper. We also have some deep theological discussions. We talk about how people (we) tend to go into debt because we don’t have the patience to wait for God’s timing. And how it’s sometimes hard to understand exactly what God meant when He said we are to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” But he really stopped me in my tracks one day about a month ago.
I was sitting at my desk, working away (yes, I do that from time to time). Nicklas was just about to start cleaning the carpets down our hallway and he stopped to ask me if I had a moment. I almost said I was really busy, but something about the look on his face got my attention. What he told me next made me glad I was sitting down. He said, “You know, Ms. Cindy, God speaks to us all the time. He speaks in different ways.” I agreed with him. Then he said, “Well, I think God wants me to tell you something.” I mentally rolled my eyes (just a little) because I’ve had people tell me that before and what they had to say was most certainly not from God. But I let him continue, “He wants me to tell you that you have a good heart.” Okay, I can accept that. How sweet of him to deliver such a nice message. But he had more to say. Nicklas repeated, “You have a good heart. And God says He can give you desires for your heart. But you don’t ask Him for enough.” I think I stopped breathing for a minute. How in the world would Nicklas know about that? Truth is he couldn’t. God really did give him a message for me. I smiled at Nicklas and thanked him for being obedient and passing along that marvelous word! Then I told him how God had already invited me to ask Him for those desires and I had failed to continue asking. I acknowledged to him there was no way he could have known how much those words meant to me. How they would spark a fire in my heart again. He just smiled and told me he sure was glad because he hadn’t really wanted to deliver the message. In fact he suggested to God that He tell me Himself! And God told him, no, it was his job this time. We both got a chuckle out of it, and I have my suspicions that God was probably smiling too.
So, I’m back to asking God daily for those desires for my heart and Nicklas is back to delivering messages about toilet paper and hand towels. Now I’m telling you, don’t be surprised when you get God-messages from unexpected sources.
P.S. Click here for an example of a message delivered from an extremely unusual source. (pay special attention to verses 21 through 31)