Not everyone agrees on how God speaks today. Some say He only speaks through the Bible. For others He speaks in any way imagined. But what about when God does speak—and clearly, without question?
Regardless of how He speaks to us, the question is what do we do about it when He does speak? I find in my life and others that we fret too much over the how and don’t pay enough attention to when.
I can point to four distinct times in my life when God clearly spoke to me.
Deciding to go into ministry
Decisions I made the summer between my junior and senior year in high school continue to influence what I do nearly 40 years later. During my teenage years we often talked about (besides normal teenage topics such as dating, parents, school, etc.) “what does God want to do with my life?”
I remember one afternoon at a church summer camp as if it was last week. During a designated time of prayer after some Bible study, I sat under a tree asking that question— “God, what do you want to do with my life?” I didn’t hear an audible voice, but one thought prevailed. His answer was to go into a ministry related vocation.
Asking Danielle to marry me
Danielle and I met after college. How we met seems to have had God’s hand on it. That’s a story for another time. Our relationship began as friends. In fact, Danielle told me early on that she already had several guys ask her to marry them, some insisting that she said yes. Her point was for me to not go there.
But, we ended up dating anyway. A few months later, I was considering exactly what she told me a short time before to not entertain. This affected me so much that I completely missed a romantic opportunity to ask her. The next day, a Sunday, after lunch at Danielle’s apartment, as if a billboard got shoved into my brain screaming, “Ask her to marry you!!”
Moving to Thailand for mission work
In 2006, Danielle and I went on a short-term mission trip to Thailand. We returned a year later for another 10-day long trip. That was February of 2007. By May we resigned from our jobs we had worked at for 11 and eight years, prepped our house for us to leave it for several months, obtained visas, booked plane tickets, etc. We knew God was speaking to us about this drastic change.
Fostering children with intent to adopt
On our return to the U.S. in late 2007, Danielle and I felt strongly that we would return to Thailand soon for a longer period. By 2010 we were making plans to do exactly that. Then we sat at a missions conference and heard God speak clearly to us about checking out foster care and adoption. God had worked things out for Danielle and me to both be sitting there hearing the same thing at the same time. Even though we didn’t understand the timing, we knew it was God speaking to us.
Less than two years later we adopted our two-year-old son.
How do I know it was God speaking?
Great question! Clarity and confirmation. And re-confirmation. Anytime I sense God speaking to me, I weigh it against what the Bible says to be true of God. I doubt that God will ever tell me to do something that contradicts His character or His Word.
I also seek counsel from wise friends. I have learned that those close to me, that know me, can see things I don’t see. I place a lot of value on this.
As I look back on these times in my life, I see God reconfirming over and over that it was Him that spoke to me. Even while I have made many stupid or ignorant decisions that could or should have derailed things, He has kept things on track.
Ok, so what, I know it was God speaking. What then?
The question is what did I do when it was clear to me that God was speaking to me?
Simple. I acted.
Yes, on some, if not all, I asked God for confirmation, but in every case I acted on what God was speaking to me.
I went to college to get a Bible degree; served as a youth pastor and missions pastor at two different churches; served as a volunteer missionary; and now I write. Like I mentioned earlier, that decision still impacts what I do today.
26 years ago I did ask Danielle to marry me. Through good and bad times, God shows me over and over that I heard him clearly that day.
Even though the 2-3 months we spent getting ready to move to Thailand was a blur and crazy, the time we spent in Thailand still impacts who we are today.
Danielle and I still wonder about the timing of our decision to foster and adopt, but even in the most difficult moments of raising a child from a hard place, I know God spoke to us about this.
I know there have been times when God clearly spoke to me, and I either ignored Him or was too deaf to really hear Him. I probably have missed out some incredible blessings. But I am thankful for His grace and patience.
Left to my on wisdom or decision-making I would have never made any of these decisions. Another reason I know it was God speaking to me. And another reason to act on each of them.