There are many people, Christian and non-Christian alike, who are unfamiliar with the idea of God “speaking” to people. I know individuals who believe it is sheer nonsense, and I know some who have heard the voice of God audibly.
God speaks to me frequently throughout my life, in various ways at different times of need. I have never heard Him speak audibly to me, but I know it is possible. How can He speak without “speaking”? The same way a friend can “speak” through a postcard, or share a thought with merely a glance. Communication is much more than just words.
In this short series, I’ll talk about ways that God has spoken to me, personally.
Most frequently, God will give me a hunch, a nudge in the right direction, through a “feeling” I’ll have. This is a strong impression to do or not do a certain thing. Just the other day Sarah and I were heading home from a meeting and I had a sudden urge to stop at a local cafe for dessert. Now, I am a fan of all things sweet, so for a moment I questioned whether this was God or simply a strong desire for peanut butter cheesecake. But the feeling was not hunger, or a physical desire for dessert, but rather a prompting inside myself to stop at this cafe. It would not subside, so we stopped by and ended up running into someone we know, and being a blessing to them. Obviously God wanted me to go there to encourage this person, but had He not prompted me to do so, it would not have happened.
Of course, it is much easier to follow an “urge” you think may be from God if you are getting cheesecake out of it, but there have been other times when the impression involved sacrifice on my part.
When I was in college I owned an Xbox gaming console, and during one particular Bible study I felt God prompting me to give it away to a certain friend. I loved playing games on my Xbox and did not want to part with it, battling with the idea for weeks. In the end I knew that if this was what God wanted me to do, it was for the best. Maybe I was spending too much time playing games. Maybe He knew this other person would get more enjoyment from it than I did. Maybe He just wanted to see if I would be obedient. It is not my responsibility to determine His reasoning. It is my responsibility to obey.
Sometimes there is sacrifice required. Sometimes there’s risk. Sometimes the path He points out goes far beyond the edges of your comfort zone. In these more challenging times, my experience has taught me an important lesson. If I want to continue hearing from God, I can’t repeatedly ignore Him when He does speak to me. If I do this too often or for too long, He stops “bothering me” with these impressions. After all, why would He keep asking you to do something if you’re just going to ignore it?
It takes time to become adept at knowing when a feeling is from God, and when it’s just the cheesecake talking.