“Is it possible to hear God’s voice?”
“How do I know if it’s really God speaking?”
“Maybe hearing His voice is only for the ‘super spiritual’.”
If you’ve ever asked these types of questions or had similar thoughts, you are not alone. Whether we know it or not, each of us longs for intimacy; to be loved, accepted and known. At the deepest level of our hearts, we want to believe there is Someone out there who understands and sees us. Our faith in a God who speaks to us personally can often be pre-empted by the fear that we don’t have enough (fill-in-the-blank) to be included in this self-perceived elite category.
I will write it again. You are not alone. I grew up in a Christian home, went to church on a weekly basis, and knew the importance of reading my Bible. Throughout my childhood and as a young adult, I always had a deep sensitivity and love towards the Lord, but my longing to experience a deep relationship with Him seemed to elude me. I desperately longed to feel close to Him. Despite what I knew to be true from God’s Word, I felt like there was an impenetrable wall between us. I was hungry for more and I had no idea what to do about it.
Then God moved…
In March 1998, I began attending East Hill Church, the first Pentecostal church I had ever visited. When I joined the worship team in December that same year, God began to rock my world. I remember the first time I stood in a circle with the worship team as we prayed before service. One person shared a picture the Lord gave them. Another shared a word they heard from God. Others began speaking and praying in tongues. It was my first introduction to the Holy Spirit. I was curious and also fascinated. I also knew it was the answer to my heart’s cry for a deeper intimacy with Him.
In April 1999, I attended my first women’s retreat. I felt like Jacob when he wrestled with God (see Genesis 32:22-32) and said, “Lord, I’m not leaving until you bless me!” (Thank goodness, God didn’t knock my hip out of joint). I didn’t know what I needed to experience more of Him, but I was determined I wouldn’t let go of God until I did. At the end of the retreat, two amazing women of God (one who is still a very dear and close friend to this day – love you, Kelli!) prayed over me as I asked for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. It was a foundational moment in my journey with Him.
After that, everything was perfect…
Well, not quite. Actually, far from it. Most of us are keenly aware that choosing a life with Jesus doesn’t mean one that is problem-free. By all outer circumstances, my life suddenly seemed to fall apart. Then in the summer, I lost my job. I had no idea what God was doing, and my little idealistic self wasn’t exactly thrilled at the way He was doing it. I wanted sunshine and roses! I wanted everything to look perfect! But God is so good. He sees the tapestry of our lives, and understands that our struggles provide an opportunity for us to draw closer to Him.
I remember it vividly. It was a beautiful fall day. I was driving my car on a country road. The sun shone brightly and the skies were a pristine blue. I was still unemployed and struggling. I said to the Lord, “God, I know You are here with me, but I wish I could actually see You next to Me; to have You speak to me in person.”
Then it happened…
I heard Him say, “Roll down your window.” I was a bit taken aback. But I rolled down my window. Then He said, “Put your hand out the window.” You can only imagine what I was thinking at that moment, but I was so surprised by what was happening I did it without question. Then He said, “Now wiggle your fingers.” Do you remember as a child putting your hand out the window to feel the pressure of the wind? That’s where I was. One hand on the steering wheel and one out the window (I’m not recommending this, by the way). Then, the Holy Spirit began speaking to me. He said, “As you feel the wind through your fingers, I am holding your hand. And when you feel the rain on your face, I am kissing your cheeks. When you hear birds sing, they are My song of love to you.”
I was completely undone. Never in my life had I heard the Lord speak words of love to me the way He did that day. It wasn’t because He hadn’t ever spoken them to me before; but my ability to hear Him became fine tuned that day. It was as if He took a radio station that was only one notch off and put it into tune with Him. That was the day I fell head over heels in love with Jesus. He had been wooing me all along and I didn’t even know it.
My Journey of Intimacy with Him began that day and it hasn’t stopped since. As I am writing, I sense the Holy Spirit is saying to some of you, “Don’t give up hope. I will never leave you or forsake you. You are My chosen one; My beloved. Press into Me and I will reveal My heart to you. I will never let you go.”
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8a