In the past, I posted an article giving an everyday example of prophecy – God revealing or unveiling something, even if it’s not in Scripture, but not contradicting Scripture. And this is all done for exhortation, encouragement and the building up of the body of Christ. Sometimes it’s hard to bring prophecy ‘out of the clouds’ and make it part of real life, for I believe God wants these things to be a part of our lives, not just super-spiritual gatherings. So it’s good to get a real-life, down-to-earth example.
I also recently posted an article of how God specifically spoke to me to help guide my praying for our neighbours. You can read it here. But, in this article, I wanted to post an example of hearing God’s voice today.
These past couple of weeks, I’ve been reading through a book by John and Stasi Eldredge called Love & War, a book about marriage. I like the Eldredge’s and their understanding of the role of the male and the role of the female, and now they have shared some thoughts on marriage. I am not going to give any kind of review on the book right now. But rather I wanted to share something I read the other night, an example of God speaking, God revealing His heart in the present day.
So here it is…
I [John] gave a talk on learning to hear the voice of God to a group of youth pastors. Afterward there was a book signing. I’m standing at my table – feeling a little bit like some guy selling Florida swampland – hoping that I don’t stand here and no one comes up when a man finally approached the table. “I don’t need a book signed,” he says. I try to keep a smile like it’s no big deal and I say, “That’s okay,” but he goes right on to say, “But I wanted to tell you a story.” “I’d love to hear it.” He looks right and left, sort of like You’re not gonna believe this. “So, I’m sitting there listening to your talk, and not real sure what I think about the whole thing. Then you invite us to listen to God.” I nod, eager to hear what happened for him, but also sort of dreading that nothing happened and he’s here to tell me God doesn’t speak to him. Too many dear souls have come to that conclusion because of a bad experience, or because no one has helped them learn to hear.
“Look, I’m not a mystic,” he says.
I smile but I’m thinking, Since when did hearing God’s voice become something reserved for mystics?
“But I decided to give it a try,” he continues. “So, I quiet down and just sit there. After a minute or so I asked God, What do you want to say to me? And what I hear is this: Take Janet to St. John.” “Janet’s my wife,” he explains, and I think, Well that’s a relief. “We’ve been wanting to take a trip together for a long time but we haven’t been able to pull it off. Anyhow, that’s what I hear – Take Janet to St. John.”
I’m thinking that’s the end of the story, so I say, “Well, she’s going to be delighted to heart that!”
He says, “No – the story’s not over.”
“After you end the talk everybody’s getting up to go to lunch. I turn to the guy next to me – we didn’t come together or anything – and tell him, ‘God told me to take my wife to St. John.'”
The way he tells this part of the story is sort of in a spirit of, Yeah right – Can you believe it? What am I supposed to do with that? I simply listen.
“And this guys says to me, ‘Well. I have been holding two tickets to St. John for a year, and God has told me they are not for me, that I’m to give them to someone else. So, there you go. I have your tickets.'”
Needless to say, Mr. I’m-Not-Much-of-a-Mystic became a believer in hearing the voice of God.
And you know what? This is actually pretty normal for the Christian life. Over the years we’ve heard a jigawillion stories like that. Ordinary folks, learning to listen for the voice of God and how he blesses them for doing so. God loves to speak, he loves to surprise us, and he has hundreds of adventures in store.
So – ask him.
End of excerpt.
Very beautiful. A man who was not open to the Spirit of God speaking today gets spoken to and has it confirmed immediately. Beautiful.
Now, Eldredge (and possibly most of these youth pastors, though I don’t know) is no self-pr0claimed charismatic or Pentecostal or Third Wave or whatever. He is simply a guy reaching out to other guys, his wife reaching out to other women, and he has become convinced of the reality that God still speaks today.
And this story is a very simple story. The man who heard God speak for the first time was not glorified. The other man with the tickets to St. John was not being glorified. John Eldredge was not even trying to glorify himself. But God was at work, drawing one of His sons into the inheritance of hearing His voice.
God is that good.
Just as a side note, please don’t think Eldredge and this story is somehow being used to proclaim an extreme prosperity gospel because God spoke about a holiday to St. John. I suppose that in the larger picture, this was one way God wanted to reveal His Father-heart to the man, and it was specifically for that man. I, too, have a story of God’s provision for my family to head to the Canary Islands for a week’s holiday this coming summer. And God wants to bless His children. But we have to be careful in embracing an over-the-top prosperity gospel. So, just making sure that is clear.
This is a clear, yet down-to-earth, example of God speaking today.
And, you know what, this is also an example of experience shaping theology. I’ve shared about this before, that it’s ok to recognise that our experience shapes our theology. God is not bothered by this, so we should not be. Now, of course, our experience is not the only thing that informs our theology. And it’s not even the foremost factor. But it is a reality and we need to both remember this and accept it.
Read the Scripture. Every single person’s theology was shaped by their experience with the living God. Every single one.
And so, in this example from Eldredge’s book, this one man shifted from a place of not believing that God speaks today (or being very cautious about it) to a place of truly believing that God does speak. And it wasn’t even in the midst of a ‘Thus saith the Lord’ statement. It was very simple, but very direct, and in this situation, His voice was confirmed immediately by another brother. Beautiful. And biblical.
But you know what. I really believe this happens more often than we think. Not just with charismatics and Pentecostals, though maybe more for those who are continually looking for and listening for God to speak (remember Eldredge is not charismatic or Pentecostal, per se). But I believe even the cessationist (or cautious continuationist) can give testimony to the reality of God’s voice. There might be a carefulness in labelling it as ‘revelation from God’ or ‘ hearing the voice of God speaking’. But the terminology matters less in the bigger scheme of things.
Of course, I would say it is God’s voice, and thus, His revelation. But, in the end, this stuff happens regularly for the sons and daughters of God. Yes, I will even go so far as to say this is normative, part of the normal Christian life.
It’s not to create a two-tier of have’s and have not’s, of those who hear God’s voice and those who don’t. It’s just to encourage us of the availability of God’s voice in everyday life. He is constantly revealing Himself. He never stopped and He won’t ever stop until the consummation of all things (1 Corinthians 13:8-12).
It could be through a reflective devotional time, through reading the Scripture, through a walk amongst the beauty of creation, listening to a song, reading a book, a prophetic word from a brother or sister, or a whole plethora of other things. But our Father is just that good – to continue to communicate with us.
None of this is to be contradictory to Scripture, contradictory to the nature of who God is, contradictory to being accountable to the body of Christ and the leaders of our local church. Rather, such will be a blessing as we are seekers of our God who breathed out Scripture, who has shown Himself in those pages, and who has connected us to His body. And this is how God designed it.
So let us be encouraged to draw in to listening. Let us draw into His heart.