There’s no warning. No bell chime to prepare me for hearing God. Wouldn’t that be a fun thing! And it’s not actually an outward sound that I hear. Because what I “hear” is inside of me. It’s my own internal voice speaking words that are not my own. Like I explained in my previous post, having a thought fully formed pop into my mind, one that is a complete surprise to me.
I am not unique in noticing this phenomenon, either. Many people have experienced and expressed the exact same thing. Sometimes it’s less of a voice and more a definitive sense of knowing something without a clue of where the sense has come from. It’s just suddely there.
Even though I don’t know God’s actual voice (Does he even have a voice like ours?) I’m learning to recognize when he’s done “speaking”.
So far, I’ve heard him in 3 ways:
– with an inner knowing that comes clear out of the blue (Call so and so, she needs to talk.),
– through an action that I would not normally do (Buy a Bible that I already own.), and
– in a dream.
If I were a die-hard believer, I might try to convince you that the story I’m about to tell clearly illustrates that God spoke to me in a bookstore.
Here’s how I remember the scenario.
While spending a few days solo at our cabin in the woods enjoying the solitude and a personal Bible-art retreat, I took a break to visit an independently-owned bookstore in a nearby town. The store had just re-opened after an extended closure due to Covid, and I thought it would be nice to visit.
As I was browsing in the spiritual section I came upon an awesome-looking architectual-themed study bible, but expensive! So I left it on the shelf. Continued browsing and bought some neat-looking activity books for the grand-kids, something for them to do while on their holiday travels. And back to the cabin I went.
But I could not get that study bible out of my head.
Next day, I return to the bookstore 30 minutes away just to see the Bible again – it was in a cover-box and I hadn’t actually opened it before to look at the inside pages. Well, I just fell in love with it! (Who did not see this coming?!) The soft feel of the cover was so nice to touch, and as a tactile person I’m discovering how much this matters to me. Of course I bought the book!
Next stop, an outdoor coffee shop for tea and to properly enjoy my big purchase. (My first time sitting in a public space since Covid hit 16 months ago. It was very nice.) Here comes the crazy part… Immediately upon laying the huge book down on the table in front of me, I recognize it as the same one I already had at home! The one I never use! But in a different translation (NIV instead of NRSV) and with a different cover (soft leather-like instead of hardcover). But the exact same insides, cultural and historical information, not architectural the way my brain first read the title!
“Oh my”, I thought, “God must really want me to have this book!” Because, how had I not recognized this book while in the store, but as soon as I’m outside the store, I recognize it right away? Whatsup? Somehow, this “mistake” had convinced my mind that it was a different Bible. Now, that is powerful.
Once back at the cabin, it occurred to me that had God not blinded me to recognizing that bible, there is no way that I would have bought it. My brain would have reasoned its way out of that store empty handed. Because I am way too practical to buy two of the same book, even though the second one had a nicer cover. No way!
Now that I own it, I just LOVE my new Bible and use it all the time. Yet, I barely looked at the first one, which was bought online. I never liked it from the first time I opened it. I didn’t like the hardcover, and with the page size being slightly smaller it made the book that much thicker and harder to handle. On the other hand, the second Bible is of a larger format but not as thick and much nicer to handle. It has become a great reference tool as I study the Word of God. Fascinating, no?
p.s. I had just completed Rebekah R. Jones’ course on Hearing God’s Voice 101 and was practicing my new skill, being extra attentive… and journaling on potential “occurrences” so that I could refer back to confirm, or not.
As it turns out, I am a hard-core believer. But I have no desire of pushing my beliefs on anyone. Faith doesn’t work that way. I just find it all quite fascinating. It’s like I have crossed a threshold by learning to understand scripture, and I feel closer to God as a result, more connected to him in the here and now. It’s comforting to know that he is just a breath away. And It’s fun to open my mind to new ways of recognizing God’s hand in the everyday.
To think there was a time when I couldn’t even speak his name without flinching, or using a condescending tone of voice. I guess I had a good-sized chip on my shoulder concerning him. All in association with my experience of “the church”. Now I see that God and the church are not one and the same. Not at all. In fact, God accepts me as I am even though I have no association with any church. My association is with him.