Last week after I published the post, “Trusting God Despite the Facts,” a reader wrote and asked me how we had heard from God in that situation in the first place. What did we perceive and how did we know it was His voice?
I’m so glad she asked this question, for I too had wrestled with it for years. In fact, some reading this may be doubting or wondering if it’s even possible to hear from God personally.
I believe this is an important issue that warrants more than a single blog post, so I’m going to dedicate the next few posts to trying to answer the questions: “Is it possible to hear from God personally?” And, “If so, how do we hear from Him?”
To answer either question we must start with the premise that God is a personal God who desires relationship with us and has given us the faculties with which to have such a relationship with Him. The biblical record of God’s dealings with mankind demonstrate clearly that God constantly initiates and offers us relationship with Him.
This is not just true of certain individuals or of a particular people group but of all mankind. There are so many evidences of this in Scripture. Consider God’s call on Abraham. Abraham and his forefathers lived east of the Euphrates River and worshiped idols (Joshua 24:2). Yet, God graciously chose Abraham to start a new nation whose primary purpose was to represent God to the rest of the world.
God made a covenant with Abraham and with his descendants. God asked Abraham to trust Him. And he “believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6) But there’s so much more. God continued to initiate relationships with people—even those who were not Jews. He appeared to the Egyptian Hagar (Genesis 16); He healed Naaman, commander of the army of Aram (2 Kings 5); He spared the whole city of Nineveh when Jonah preached to them (Jonah 3); and there are many more examples.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” “Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-39) Love is a relational emotion and affection. And the New Testament explains, “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
John also writes, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) And, “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)
God, the Lord of the Universe, our Creator, loves us so very much! When we trust in Jesus and receive His forgiveness, Jesus reconciles us with the Father and makes us His children. This is so very relational. And I’m starting with the fact that God wants relationship with us because relationships are not possible without communication.
We don’t often think about that but it’s true. You cannot have a relationship with someone apart from some means of communicating with them. Helen Keller, who grew up both blind and deaf, spoke about this in her autobiography. Helen explained that her greatest challenge was not her blindness and deafness, but her inability to communicate with others. For without communication she had no means for relationship.
When Helen learned to communicate via sign language, she describes this communication as “the door through which she passed from darkness into light, from isolation to friendship, companionship, knowledge, and love.”
This point is vital, because if we agree that God wishes relationship with us, we must therefore acknowledge that He does so through communication with us. For without communication, relationship is not possible.
If you already know the Lord, you probably see why it’s so vital for us as His children to read His Word and pray. God’s Word and prayer are two primary means with which we communicate with God and He with us, but He uses other means as well.
Let me leave you with an incident from my life that ties directly to this topic and then I’ll continue next week. About 17 years ago I was living in Anchorage, Alaska. I was preparing a discipleship curriculum for a large church there to help people grow in their relationship with God. But it occurred to me that for any relationship to exist communication must be present.
However, I had never heard anyone say that before and I was racking my brain for a real-life example. For several days I had been seeking such an example. During this time, I went for a hike in the Chugach Mountains. While hiking, I asked the Lord to give me such an example. Immediately, the name Helen Keller came into my mind—but it was a prompting from the Holy Spirit.
Until then, I had never read anything by or about Helen Keller, nor had anyone mentioned her name to me in many years and never in this context. The Holy Spirit’s prompting was so strong, that I went to a used bookstore in Anchorage after my hike. They had several books there about or by Helen Keller, so I bought her autobiography. Imagine my surprise and joy when I discovered that she speaks directly to this very issue!
The Lord knew just what I needed and where to find it. And her story so powerfully supports what we’re talking about here. I urge you to read God’s Word and talk to Him in prayer daily. Cultivate your relationship with Him by communicating with Him. As you read His Word, always go there to meet with Him. And as you pray, be sure to spend time listening too. We’ll talk more about that later.
Rob – this is so good! I look forward to the next installment.