I always love to hear stories about how God speaks to people, because as with everything else he does, he is so creative when it comes to speaking to his children. I remember as a small child waiting for an audible voice to tell me something – anything – and I would never hear it, and be disappointed.
And then I realized that God can speak much more loudly than an audible voice. In fact, his words can be unmistakable.
2014 year was one of the worst years of my life. It just stunk. It was stressful, we all had some pretty big health problems, and it just felt like we couldn’t catch a break. I’ll admit – I got a little mad at God for awhile. Not like a “I’m never talking to you again” kind of mad… more like I sulked about how he wasn’t intervening in all of our troubles and making them all go away.
But I look back at 2014, and realize that God chose to speak to me so very clearly, so many times. As cliche as it sounds, during my hardest year, I heard him the loudest.
July 9 – We were in the midst of all of our health struggles, with more around the corner (like Mr. Right’s cancer scare and some super scary asthma attacks for Wrenn). We were tired, we were haggard, we were surviving on fumes. And during one of my quiet times, I came to this verse:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
And it was on this day, with this verse, I heard God speak so clearly in my soul, saying “Baby girl, I’ve got you. Do you think your stress is more than I can handle?”
And again I heard: “Just rest in my presence.”
I immediately wrote this down – because when you feel like God is speaking to you, you ALWAYS WRITE IT DOWN. And I clung to that promise during the roller coaster that followed over the next few months – of not sleeping, of medical test after medical test, ER visits, of holding my baby girl in the floor of our bathroom as I prayed that the steam from the shower would open up her lungs – during what turned out to be very dark months for me, I kept reminding myself, “God told me that he has me. He’s not surprised by this. He can handle ALL of my stress. Just rest in his presence.”
Nov. 22 – My birthday. Our stressful season was in full swing – we still didn’t have a good diagnosis for what Mr. Right was struggling with, and he was only a week away from leaving for India. Our baby girl had been horribly sick with asthma, and on the nights when I wasn’t up all night holding her as she had asthma attacks, I was lying in bed awake, waiting for the next asthma attack to hit. On Nov. 21 before I went to bed, I prayed that God would speak to me, to remind me that he was still there and that he loved me. Because sometimes I need that reassurance, and that’s okay. It’s okay to ask God to speak loudly to you. Because sometimes, that’s exactly what he wants to do.
I prayed that prayer on Friday night, and on Saturday morning, when I woke up, I had an email from a friend who said she felt compelled to encourage me. Turns out, she had walked a very similar path to the one I had walked, and not only did she bravely share her story, but then she shared the scripture and the truth that she clung to during that hard season. She wanted to share the things in God’s word that had gotten her through her hard season, so that I could get through mine.
You guys – that was God talking to me through her. When someone tells you they feel compelled to share something from scripture with you – and they would have had no real idea of how important it would be in that moment – there’s a very good chance that it’s a God thing.
This was a God thing. Not only did he answer my prayer before I woke up the following morning (on my birthday, no less) but I started thinking, and I realized that I had had several people contact me over the past few months sharing scripture that had helped them walk through difficult seasons. And I realized that GOD HAD ANSWERED MY PRAYER BEFORE I HAD EVEN PRAYED IT.
Yep. God blows my mind. Isn’t he so gracious?
Nov. 29 – Mr. Right was 48 hours from leaving for India, and I still hadn’t felt a peace about him going. My husband had felt a definite call from God that he was supposed to travel to India to teach local pastors, and after coming a little closer to begging him not to go than I’d like to admit, I finally just said, “I don’t have a peace about it, but if God has told you to go, then you need to go.” I’ve read the story of Jonah enough times to know that if God says go, you always go.
In the meantime, we were also praying that God would provide the funds to cover the trip. It was expensive, money was tight, not to mention that when a small business owner misses 2.5 weeks of work, it means you’re not going to make any money during that time. We prayed and prayed, and the money came in, but we still lacked $800, with two days to go before his trip.
That Saturday, Mr. Right couldn’t find his malaria medicine (a must when you go to India), and tore apart our bathroom searching for it. He found a stack of cards I had written him, and out fell an envelope with our name in it. Inside were 10 $100 bills. Exactly enough to cover the cost of the rest of the trip, plus $200 in travel money (which is the identical amount I had set aside for him to use in airports/emergencies).
Y’all… God provided the exact amount of money we needed, PLUS the exact amount of money we had set aside, with 48 hours to go before the trip. It was kind of like God lit up a neon sign that said, “BETHE, I TOLD YOU I WANTED HIM TO GO TO INDIA.”
Yes, God. I hear you loud and clear.
It was the sweetest gift he could have given me, because for the 16 days that Mr. Right was on the opposite side of the planet, I felt the greatest peace I have ever felt in my entire life. I had confidence that he was supposed to be in India. That we were following God’s will. And that’s exactly where I want to be – smack dab in the middle of God’s will, all the time. It was a GIFT.
Not only that, but God decided to just WOW me during Mr. Right’s trip to India. I have told people that I think my husband had to travel to the other side of the globe, so that God could do a work in my heart back here at home. On the second day he was gone, after I talked to him and he was still en route (it took 48 hours and three flights to get there), sick and exhausted, I reached into my jacket pocket – the jacket I wear every single day in the winter time – the jacket I have worn 50 times since last year – and there was a brochure for India. My church had hosted a luncheon more than a year before to promote trips to India, and I must have grabbed a brochure and stuck it in my pocket. The brochure featured all of the cities Mr. Right would travel to, with photos of the very people he would get to love on, and there it was in my jacket pocket. I hadn’t noticed it the other 50 times I had worn that jacket, because God wanted me to find that brochure at that divine moment, when I needed reminding that GOD WANTED MR. RIGHT IN INDIA.
I told everybody I could.
And then, one more cool thing – because our God, the God of the universe, likes to do things BIG. It wasn’t enough to provide the money, or provide pictures in my pocket of the people my husband was going to see. No, he decided to send me another love letter, in the form of scripture. You see, God has always used other people quoting his word to speak to me. It has happened more times than I could count.
First, God had a coworker send me this verse on the morning my husband left for India:
“May the God of hope fill you with ALL JOY AND PEACE as you TRUST in him, so that you may OVERFLOW WITH HOPE by the POWER of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13
This verse became my mantra – my daily battle cry for the 16 days I was a single mom. You have to remember, my baby girl had battled horrible asthma attacks for months, leading up to about a week before this trip. It had been scary and exhausting. I hadn’t slept in forever. And now I was going to be a single, working mom, entirely responsible for the health and safety of my beloved child, with a husband two days away in an emergency.
I prayed this prayer and clung to it – it brought me so much peace. More peace than I had felt in all of 2014. Like, it was weird. And God, in his pure awesomeness, put that verse in my daily Bible Study reading on the very last night before Mr. Right came home. There it was – bookending this trip. It was like, on either side, God reminding me that this promise is for me. No matter my circumstances, he wants to provide me with ALL JOY AND PEACE as I choose to TRUST in him.
And guess what… this promise is also FOR YOU.
Friend, I don’t know what you’re walking through. You may be in the midst of the worst year of your life, or you may be at a crossroads and desperately need to hear God speak. Whatever it is – don’t be afraid to flat out ASK HIM TO SPEAK TO YOU.
Note: A great book on this topic that changed my life was this one. Know that when God speaks, it is always in line with his scripture. He will never tell you something that conflicts with it. If you have questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.