I heard God this weekend.
Two preschoolers were talking with their parents on their way out of church Sunday. I had just stepped out of church too; barely able to see because I was crying so hard thinking about a big problem I’m working through right now. And just at that moment, the kids were talking about the Bible story they had heard. I smiled through my tears and told my husband that what they were excited about—I had written. (Kids ministry curriculum is my day job.) And that’s when I heard God. I know it was him, doing his best to reach down and dry my tears with some encouragement. My big problem may not be solvable, he seemed to be saying, but I have other areas in my life that bring me joy and fulfillment. Those kids I write for are learning some of the most important stories they’ll ever hear in their lives, stories that hopefully will come to their minds years from now and encourage them when they need a reminder that God is close.
From the beginning of the Bible to the end, that’s what God does. He tries to be close to us. That’s what his name Jehovah means: God dwells with us. He lives in heaven, but also on earth, with me. He says he’ll walk with us, write his teaching on our hearts, and live in us. (Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 31:34, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Revelation 21:3)
So, if God is so close, how come sometimes I can’t hear his voice?
When I find God silent it’s usually because he has said no and I don’t accept his answer. But sometimes it’s because I’m asking him for a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe” answer to a life-altering decision, like he’s some sort of magic eight ball. He doesn’t seem to like that position. Instead, what God likes to communicate to me rarely involves life coaching. He is much more concerned about me understanding him, praising him, repenting of my mistakes to him, and yielding to his will. Of course, he also wants me to ask him for things. Usually, I’m begging. But he won’t give me everything I want. And that’s a good thing—because God knows way better.
So, if I want to hear from God I read the Scriptures all the time—until I get good at guessing what God would say.
I listen to good Bible teachers too and talk with other believers. And sometimes, I can even hear God through my circumstances, like with the kids after church. But circumstances are tricky because when my circumstances are crap, that’s when I can find myself upset with God. I want him to change things. He can. Sometimes he does. More often, though, he just wants to be with me through them—to dwell with me.
But when you think about that—the God who made the universe, the God who sent his only son, Jesus, to die for my sins—that God is hanging out with me … that’s worth hearing. That’s what God is saying loud and clear to all of us: “I’m here.”
Rebecca Barnes is married to an amazing man, who encourages her faith and listens to her typing a lot. She has three daughters and a son-in-law. She loves to cook for anyone who likes good food, and she feels competitive about weeding her flower garden. She lives in Old Town Lafayette because it’s a little eclectic, like her.