Sunday, March 20, 2016

Experiencing God: Hearing God speak

 I’ve written a couple of posts on experiencing God (hugs & heat), and I think it’s important to keep uncovering the various (tangible) ways we can experience God.  One of the more recent ways is through prophetic* people in my life. 
I’ll start by saying I’m wary of those who tend to try and predict future events.  I knew one guy who studied the “Bible Code” (which he did in English…if you believe in the Bible Code (read messages hidden within the scriptures) I’m pretty sure you should believe they were hidden in the original biblical languages and not some random English translation, but what do I know? I’m just a biblical scholar and a theologian.).  This man would send me letters of his predictions.  I was pregnant with our first child when he told me it would be a boy and we were to name him “John Allen”. Turned out it was a girl and we named her Ruth.  He told me there would be a HUGE earthquake of the coast of California causing a giant tsunami on December 22nd of that year causing destruction all the way into the Inland Empire and that we needed to have the church fitted with reinforced steal (which needed to be purchased from a very specific company, by the way).  Needless to say, we didn't buy the steal and no such earthquake or subsequent tsunami happened. Which is all to say, if you say you’re a prophet, I take it with a grain of salt.  

However, despite some crazy experiences with people that I do not believe were hearing the Word of God directly, I have known others whose words have been tested and proven in time.  My spiritual mentor has spoken prophetically into my life and my ministry on a couple of occasions and I have a prayer partner who has also been given prophetic words for me.  It doesn’t happen all the time, but every once in awhile, when I ask her to pray for me, she says “Call me” and ends up having a very specific scripture or word that seems to be from God.  

In January of last year I had asked her to pray for me.  I was struggling because we really wanted a second child. It took us a long time to get pregnant again and then we miscarried.  It was heart breaking and we kept praying that we would be able to have another child.  And it seemed like forever, and I wondered if it would ever happen.  I asked my friend to pray for me.  And then she said, “Call me.” And I did.  And then she shared a message, which included that God would answer my prayer as he had answered Hannah’s. I wasn't sure how long it might be before God answered "as he had Hannah" but I was grateful for the hope.  And it turns out, we were pregnant in about a month.  You could call it coincidence, but it was more than that for me.  

Later that year, I again asked for prayer, as I had many times, and this time, she said "Call me." So I did.  Again, she had specific words for me (sort of like when I prepare a sermon and it all just flows, I don't have to think to make it work, it just comes...from's clearly not mine).  She had very specific words for me that addressed my current situation in ways that were uncanny, since I hadn't told her what was going on. I'd only asked her to pray.  Her words have brought me comfort, they have brought me hope, they've given me direction and instruction.  And I am grateful that God gave me someone (actually multiple someones since it's happened with other people, often in the form of "hey, I just had you on my heart today and felt the need to do tell you ________).  

God does speak. God speaks through the scriptures. God speaks through giving us peace, comfort, and hope. And God speaks through other people.  It might be simple. It might be vague or it could be specific.  To be sure, there are "false prophets" and we should be wary about believing everything people say is "from God", but just because there are some folks who are pretty far out doesn't mean there are no modern prophets who genuinely hear from God to offer God's truth into our lives. 

*It is HUGELY important to understand that when I say “prophetic” I’m not talking about fortune tellers, or future predictors.  A prophet (in biblical terms) is a truth teller—they are a messenger from God, sent to tell God’s truth.  If you read the Old Testament prophets, you might be inclined to think they are future-tellers, but really they are more like doctors in that they are diagnosing a condition and explaining likely outcomes.  For instance, if you keep acting unjustly and selfishly, you will end up struggling with famine.  That sounds like future-telling in a way. But it’s also diagnostic…if you keep being selfish and not thinking of others, or the big picture, this way of life is going to land you in a heap of trouble.  Much like if a doctor says “if you keep failing to exercise and eating the way you are, you’re likely to have a heart attack.” The doctor isn’t a fortune teller, she’s a diagnostician…she’s studied likely outcomes of certain behaviors and knows there’s a direct correlation between diet and exercise and heart related issues.  So, when I say “prophet”, what I mean is someone who listens for God’s voice and is offered a message to share.  The legitimacy of said message can be measured by how it holds up against the truth of the scriptures. 

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