Have you ever really wanted God to speak to you ?
Undeniably reach out and touch you and you touch Him?
I try to pray on the way to the gym. Not because working out scares me. But because I have trouble making myself stick to a prayer routine. Growing up, prayer was something you did at church, maybe before you went to bed at night and before you ate pot roast on Sunday after church.
As an adult with my own life, challenges and the task of setting an example for my children, I want prayer to have more meaning. For me. For my kids. Back then, it was just something to check off on a list before you ate or went to sleep. Or got on an airplane to fly somewhere.
So, on the way to the gym, I pray. I’m alone in the Jeep usually. And if I’ve had a hard day or I’ve felt pretty emotional about something, I also yell at God, simultaneously apologize for yelling and ask the hard questions out loud. One of the questions has been repeated a lot lately. I keep asking God to speak LOUDER to me. To be more direct. I want to feel unmistakable supernatural presence that can only be GOD. I tell Him that I KNOW He can hear me. I demand to know why others talk about “hearing God’s voice” or say that “God spoke a “word” or gave them a particular “word” over their life. Some people describe a still, small voice. Sure, that’s from scripture. I know people who claim to have seen angels during deep prayer, speak in tongues and describe being “slain in the Spirit.”
What I, personally, think about all these forms of communing with the Lord is not important. My curiosity wants to know how they KNOW without a doubt, they are hearing from God. What’s the common denominator? Some people mock these things. I say, no matter my own questions, they cannot all be delusional. For thousands of years now, people have recorded experiences with our Creator. Around 2000 years ago, God came to Earth in a form that wouldn’t frighten us. And a few thousand (or more?) years before that, ancient history records further interaction with God. I keep asking God to show Himself in a big way. A way that my stubborn brain couldn’t begin to deny. Seriously, God… Jonah refusing to go to Nineveh and the whale thing? Moses got a burning bush, all sorts of crazy signs and an entire sea parted before him. Those lions didn’t eat Daniel. And Paul got his name changed after having his sight removed and restored.
As I asked God this, I thought to myself that in this day and age, maybe miracles are explained as coincidence or imagination. After all, if a donkey started talking to me, it would likely end sitting in front of a psychiatrist writing me a prescription.
Even so, I asked God to speak to me, to show me that it was impossible to doubt Him. On this day, as I ask, a memory of a scripture teases at my mind. Mark 8:18 perhaps? Jesus taking some people to task for seeing but continuing to have stubborn unbelief. I don’t want to have stubborn unbelief. But I’m searching for something.
On this day, I tell God that I’m sometimes afraid that the skeptics are right. That when I’m trying to make a decision about my future or I’m uncertain, it’s really tough when I can’t “hear” Him. I tell God that I start wondering “What if God is really what all the new age sorts think?” Just variations of their own inner spirits. One common form of thinking is that “WE” are all God. That’s SO depressing. Cause, if I’m God and you’re God and President Obama is God…. You see? Just depressing.
Back to this day. I’m driving. It happened to be a Sunday. I’d gone to church for the first time in months. (Long story, long life.) The lesson that day was about prayer. The pastor commented that when we first start to pray, it will feel emotionless. I’ve been praying with varying intensity most of my life. But I think he was saying once I get into a habit and make it a priority – it won’t feel so one sided – and I’ll have that interaction I’m seeking. He said that like any habit, you need to “show up and do the work” to see results. I get that. I still argue that undeniable interaction should happen sooner in the relationship. People will say to ‘have faith’ and remind me that it’s all “God’s timing.” Fine. But sometimes I want things to happen in my timing so I can understand faster.
And so I continued nagging God – for undeniable proof that there’s more than just us humans trying to control the world. I said my “Amen” and went inside the gym. I climbed on the elliptical and forgot my prayer while I concentrated on reducing the effects of gravity on my rear end.
An hour later, I’m walking out the door. My eyes are drawn to the basket of colored slips of paper on the counter by the exit. The YMCA keeps a basket full of colored slips labeled something like “spiritual vitamins” and each paper has a scripture verse printed on it. Normally, my 9 year old son grabs 2 for each of us. Today, he wasn’t with me and I was just going to skip it. I almost walked out the door but felt drawn back to the papers. “Alright!” I grumble. Grab the slip and walk out the door. I look down and it says:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
I sigh. Just a basic verse. I guess God isn’t even going to tell me anything by scripture.
Then…. I’m pretty sure I felt my brain give a twitch.
In the beginning, GOD created….
Didn’t I just tell God that I wondered whether someone besides us humans was in charge? Didn’t I just yell that I wanted proof that there really is a sentient presence or creator who exists and interacts?
Well, God knows I DO believe that a creator made the earth and all that’s in it. That He had to be involved enough for living beings of all sorts to be so amazing.
So…was the scripture a clear reminder of what I know and therefore should inherently trust is real? Or was it a coincidence that jolted memory of conviction?
I can’t answer that for others. But I did walk away from the gym and drive home with a smile.
So, maybe I know for me and that’s what matters.