Maybe you’ve had an experience where you thought something might have been God because it couldn’t have been anyone else, but how do you know? A few weeks back, that’s what a new friend asked me, how to hear God.
It’s the number one question people ask, probably because I talk about it all the time.
Since this week’s been rather, well, let me tell you what happened and then you can label it what you will.
How to hear God
Last fall I was staying with friends in the city when I met a couple. Andy blogs, so he took a look at my website to share some tips. That’s when he said,
“You say you hear God. How do you hear God?”
That evening, we found a connection through Africa.
I’d worked as a missionary with Iris Ministries in Mozambique and we both sponsor children.
“You have to come to the dinner!” said his wife, Sindi.
Two weeks later, we gathered again at the table they hosted to raise money for Africa New Life Ministries. I thought it was going to be a potluck dinner at a church, but not even close! It was a fancy gala at the Portland Museum of Art.
After hors d’oeuvres, we found our seats and ate an amazing dinner while we listened to a young African man tell his story having grown up supported by the ministry.
Sindi was so excited, she kept telling everyone at the table, “If you win the raffle, Andy and I’ll go to Africa with you!”
I smiled and thought God, You gotta love her heart, wouldn’t it be cool if she won?
When they announced her name, I wish I had a picture of her face, as well as Andy’s, who did not want to win a trip to Africa. Sitting next to them, I had a front-row seat, but we were all in shock. I didn’t get my camera out in time.
But here’s a picture of us before the exciting moment:
Afterward, Sindi messaged to see if I’d watch their cats while they were gone.
While packing to go to their house, I felt a nudge to bring my portable foot-washing kit and the last bit of Spikenard perfume that I’d bought in Jerusalem so I could wash their feet before they went.
So how do I hear God?
It’s not always internal words. Just like with a friend, it can come in different ways. This nudge left me with a total lack of peace if I didn’t do it.
And believe me, sometimes people think I’m nuts. But I’ve gotten to the place where I’m okay with that. At the end of time, I’d rather stand before God having done what I thought was Him than not, right? But I did tell Sindi what I wanted to do. And of course, I gave them a choice.
The tears in her eyes answered me.
So, there in the kitchen, I knelt on their floor. They took a turn sitting in the chair in front of me and one putting their hands on their spouse’s shoulders to pray with me. I think we all had tears in our eyes by the end of it as we wondered what God had up His sleeve together.
It’s at times like that, I feel God in the room. Do you know how you can sense someone’s presence? It was like that.
All through their trip, we messaged.
I sent updates about the animals. They sent videos of the wild game park and the African women welcoming them in song.
Then they met their sponsored son.
He lives with his grandma. In his Rwandan accent, he wept as he told them:
“My mom and dad didn’t love me.
They gave me to my grandma when I was 3.
I have been praying for parents to love me.
And God gave me you!”
You know God loved answering that prayer.
Blessings are always so multidimensional.
Sindi’s heart longed to take her husband on a mission trip to meet their boy and the African boy, all the way across the world, cried out for the same thing.
But that wasn’t the end of it.
Their other African child, a daughter, had also been left with her grandmother when her mother married another man. She kept saying, “I wi-i-ish they would visit.”
Her grandmother would say, “Their sponsorship is enough. Be happy with that!”
But as Sindi messaged:
Over and over, we kept experiencing these things no one else could do, but God.
Then Sindi said, “Two packages are coming. You’ll know which is for you. Open it.”
I’m weird. I love anticipation.
So, one package came and then another. I couldn’t tell. I set them on the counter and looked at them every time I passed by. I waited a couple of days to ask Sindi, partly in anticipation and also because something else happened we hadn’t counted on.
At the Rwandan airport, they found out their flight to Italy was canceled.
I had a flashback. Remember last summer when my airline ceased operations and I found out the day I’d planned to leave for Israel? Not only did I get there earlier than I would have, my Delta flight felt like first-class compared to what WOW Airlines offered. The memory built my faith to believe that God would take care of my friends, too.
After a day of sightseeing in Amsterdam, the storm passed and they made it to Florence.
Now I really wanted to know,
What was in the package?
I squealed when I ripped it open!
Inside I found a new bottle of Spikenard. I’d been wanting one for a long time, but it’s not cheap. I sprayed it all over myself.
Sindi had asked what I charged for house-sitting. I said, “I don’t know. Why don’t you ask God?”
Sure enough, God knows exactly what to get us for a present.
Related Post: 1 Quick Way to Help You Hear God Better Today
At this same time,
my best friend and I were having a conversation.
She and I vote differently. Before the last election, we did a novena. I’m not Catholic so I didn’t know what a novena was. It’s a prayer. We put it together ourselves, a long one that we each agreed on and prayed every day for nine days.
Then we kept going. We shared it. Others prayed with us.
With all the disunity going on in our country, I wrote to her and asked her if we should do another. Then my texts to her started including things I didn’t say. I thought about how the Bible says, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12, KJV).
What a good time to think about that! You know, it’s not just the possibility of spiritual warfare on my messages, but also the reminder that people are not our enemy. We’re supposed to love our neighbors.
Just to be sure, I asked God, “Is this Your will? Because I don’t want to do it if it isn’t.”
There I sat with my first cup of coffee . . .
. . . in bed, wearing my ever-present leopard-skin pajamas, with my Bible open, slathered in my new perfume. My dog squinted at me from across the bed.
And I laughed out loud.
In the Bible, people were often anointed with a perfume when God had something for them to do, like when Samuel anointed David to be king (1 Samuel 16). I’m not saying I’m King David or anything, far from it. But that’s one of the ways I’ve sensed God. When something happens to me and there’s a Bible story like it, it doesn’t seem coincidental to me anymore.
What we hear from God will always line up with the Bible and it will resonate with other believers.
I love the story of Samuel. As a boy, he kept hearing his name being called as he lay in bed. Three times, he got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am” (1 Samuel 3).
Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So, Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So, Samuel went and lay down in his place.
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3: 8-10, NIV).
I think God wants to speak to all of us.
The more things I believe might be God, the more experiences I have with Him.
Like this, the name of my book is “Mary Me.”
In the Bible, there are two sisters, Mary and Martha. Martha is a busy bee (like I was and still struggle not to be.) Her sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’ feet listening to His every word. When Martha complained that Mary wasn’t helping her, Jesus said, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42, NIV.)
My book is about how God changed me from a Martha to a Mary.
Before Jesus’ death, Mary anointed his feet with expensive perfume, with Spikenard—you know, the perfume I was wearing that came just before I asked my question, the perfume that had all the Scripture verses about Mary all over its box.
This was one of those moments I needed to know I heard God. I needed something I could stand on because I do know that evil has been dividing us.
And it’s time to do something about that,
but it scares me to have a part in it.
If any of you would like to join us,
we’re not going to talk politics, remember?
But if you’d want to pray with us for protection and overcoming the disunity that’s become such a stronghold in our country, then let me know.
Years back, when my best friend and I realized we voted differently, we had an honest conversation, listened to each other, and the takeaway I still have after all these years is that we both want the same thing.
And don’t we all . . . want the best for our country?
I don’t have the novena ready yet. It might take a minute. Yesterday I was rushing around trying to get more things done than fit in a day when again, I think it was God that said,
“You’re a Mary now, remember?
Don’t Mary as Martha would.“
Like those African children on the other side of the world,
we’re all part of God’s family if we choose to be.
I can’t wait to see Sindi and Andy, and to ask Andy, “How do you hear God or sense Him? I have a feeling he’s going to have a few stories to tell.
Just like the relationships we have with our friends, each is different. I love the mysterious ways I experience God, but I had another friend, Keith. I was telling him some of my stories when he said, “If that happened to me, it would freak me out!”
“I don’t think that will happen to you then,” I said. “I don’t think God’s trying to freak us out. He knows I love those His mysterious ways so maybe that’s why He shows them to me.”
What about you,
how do you hear God or see Him or sense Him?
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