Have you ever wished you could hear God’s voice?
The other morning, coffee close at hand, I felt this odd desire to flee back to my childhood memories. In a distant corner of my mind, I’m sitting on a lawn amid soft, cool grass and yellow dandelions. To my left, there is an enormous willow tree, its shoots and leaves like permanent fireworks. The limbs of the willow tree create steps and wide ledges for sitting and dreaming. Behind that tree is the maple tree, a little harder to climb than the willow. Over to the right is the cedar tree, a little sticky but fragrant and fun. My older brother and I are playing farm… or something. Mom is behind in the house, or maybe hanging clothes on the wash line. I’m fuzzy on details. I just remember cool grass, sunlight, yellow dandelions.
“God,” I wrote in my prayer book, “I miss my childhood.”
Sometimes, we Wish God’s Voice Would Answer Us Audibly!
I’ve spent a lot of time studying the life of Thomas E. Kirkman. Since we have the cover reveal for From the White House to the Amish this week, I thought it would fit to share something about Tom’s life. And then I realized that one event in this book fits with a topic that I was already processing.
If you missed my intro to Kirkman on August first, find it here: Stereotypes. Who are the Amish?
Tom Kirkman, unlike most human beings, heard the voice of God speak to him audibly.
I’m sorry if this is too much of a spoiler, and I won’t say much more about that. Tom passed away before I got to speak to him. I have documents of his life, but mostly I heard his story from his son Brad, a Mennonite minister.
“Dad is the only person I know who heard God speak audibly,” Brad told Marnell and I. “I’ve had God speak to my heart. I’ve felt God’s presence.”
But Tom Kirkman heard God’s voice, on the anniversary of the day he turned his back on God.
Other Ways We Can Hear God’s Voice
Some weeks ago, our neighbor Chris passed a book on to us. It’s a teal-colored book with a dated, self-published appearance. I couldn’t imagine it being that interesting. However, the title intrigued me. How to Listen to God: Overcoming Addiction Through Two-Way Prayer. The book lacked literary polish, but I found it quite helpful. (Here’s my review on Goodreads.)
Years ago, a group called the Oxford Group formed to help people overcome addictions, especially to alcohol. (A member of this group later formed Alcoholics Anonymous.) And the foundation of the Oxford Group? Two-way prayer. Both talking to God and listening for his guidance. Not only does the book encourage listening as a part of prayer, it suggests that we write the thoughts that come to us as we pray.
This makes perfect sense to me as a writer. I have often experienced the lightening-fast arrival of a thought following prayer. Especially prayers blurted out on the way to answer the doorbell! But it had never occurred to me to write these thoughts. Very often, God speaks, not in an audible voice, but through our thoughts.
Chris’s book encourages people to write the thoughts that follow prayer without over-thinking. Later, if unsure whether a thought came from God or from your own imagination or worse, compare it to God’s Word. Discuss it with a trusted friend who understands the concept of two-way prayer.
This concept has given me a framework for something that I already understood but had not been practicing. Recording makes all the difference. I don’t feel like I hear God’s voice plainly every time I listen. But the discipline has taught me to wait on God instead of rushing through a prayer.
God Often Speaks With A Still and Small Voice
I don’t doubt that God can still speak aloud as he did to Tom Kirkman. But it seems more common that he speaks to us through our thoughts, or what Elijah might have called the “still, small voice.” But if you are like me, you lack the discipline of quietness and waiting and listening.
Well, back to that morning when I was missing my childhood.
God didn’t speak to me in an audible voice. Instead, like a cool blanket dropping on a feverish body, I “heard” these words.
“Help make the world a place where more people have happy childhood memories.”
And I realized that what I am reminiscing about – a happy childhood- is something that many people in the world don’t even have.
My focus changed, and I began to think of the children in my life. I thought of little Jaycee down the street, yelling at her grandmother. Then there is our neighbor Janice, who is rather childlike herself, unable to move on past the abuse and neglect and drugs. I thought of my nieces and nephews and how I should pay more attention to them.
And, after all, people have terrible childhoods because adults live poor lives. There are so many opportunities to “help make the world a place where more people have happy childhood memories.” So every word I write, every person I interact with, is an opportunity to do this. Isn’t that beautiful? It felt like a mission statement from God.
It’s the strangest thing. Sometimes we think we are helping someone else, and then we end up being the ones blessed. We’ve been having our neighbor Chris over for supper Wednesday evenings. And then he hands me this book that reminds me about a crucial component of prayer I had been neglecting: active listening.
A few weeks later, something odd happened that made this “mission statement from God” seem even more unusual. But I’ll save that for later. I really must show you something.
The Final Title and Cover!
Thank you to the people on my email list for helping decide the title!
Lately I’ve been enjoying Goodreads, the social media site for readers. Have you checked it out? You can find any book, keep a list of what you’ve read, see which books your friends are reading and leave reviews. You can see the 32 books I’ve read or listened to so far this year, and the books I’m currently reading. I can’t believe I didn’t find it sooner.
Just click the link above to check it out. If you follow me, you will find out when I do a 5-book giveaway of From the White House to the Amish on Goodreads in September.
Have a great week and don’t forget to listen for God’s voice!