As I travel in Christian circles, I hear this phrase more and more: “God told me…”. Oh really? I think. I’ve never heard His audible voice. What’s that make me? I feel like saying, “The next you hear from Him, please record it on your phone. It may help convince some unsaved loved ones.” If so many people hear from God, is He discreet enough to speak only when no one else can overhear Him?
I learned skepticism growing up and in the business world. It’s a useful trait. But with my desire for hard evidence, it’s a miracle that I believe in an unseen and, at least to me, an unheard God.
Despite my misgivings, I have a confession. Call me a hypocrite, but God spoke to me too. No, I didn’t hear an audible voice, nor was the tone still and small, as Elijah described it (1 Kings 19:12). It felt more like a seismic shift.
It was 1995, midway through my single adulthood, as I was crying out in loneliness for God to end it. I traveled from Maine to Connecticut on vacation to visit my cousin. After a gym workout, we were riding back to his house when he said, “What’s that verse?”
In a daze from pumping iron, I looked up and followed his pointing finger to the back of a tractor-trailer, with the spread wings of an eagle splashed on it. “What verse?” I said.
He pointed again. Then I saw the inscription, Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV). “Oh, I dunno. I’ll look it up when we get back.” I did so and read it to my cousin and one of his sons.
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
I thought the words might mean more to them than to me since I already knew the verse well. That night, like all nights back then, I wrestled with God to do something about the unfulfilled longing in my heart. My dogged determination in prayer had become a ritual after what felt like years of silence.
The next day, I visited a friend, a committed Christian, elsewhere in Connecticut. I shared my “woe-be-gone” plight of singleness. During our conversation, he recited Isaiah 40:31. “Huh,” I said. “I just saw that verse yesterday … on the back of a trailer.”
A few days later, I was back in my apartment, where I’d been holed up in prayer for a decade. Kneeling at the side of my bed that evening, I felt compelled to interrupt my prayer time. Strange, I never do this.
The strong urge was to check my calendar in the other room. What for?
Just do it.
So, I did. What do you suppose I saw on the calendar? The words of Isaiah 40: 31. They’d been there, above the tear-away sheets, for nine months, but had I noticed them before? Not like I did then. A heavenly mallet thumped my hard head. Oh, this verse is for me?
A week later, I was vacationing in Canada with my mother. We visited a small logging museum in the middle of nowhere. While Mom spoke with the curator, a hymnal resting atop an organ captured my attention. I opened it—randomly. A chill flashed through my body. I didn’t know such a hymn existed, but the entire words of it were those of Isaiah 40:31. You must be kidding, I thought.
God had spoken to me. I wasn’t sure exactly what He meant, but, deep within, I knew it was Him. That encounter with the Almighty shaped my faith walk in the years that followed.
I’m convinced God “speaks” to a person in a way that only he or she recognizes. That’s how personal He is. No wonder I’m questioning my peers’ ethereal hearing. Maybe now, they’ll doubt mine too. God may need to beat us over the head before we understand, but doing so reveals how much He loves us.
Has God spoken to you? Others want to — or need to — know. They may be facing monumental challenges or simply finding themselves in a desert of silence. Please encourage them by sharing your experience in a comment.
Copyright © 2020 Tim Bishop, used with permission.