Often, I don’t feel like I have a “real” salvation story… I grew up in the church my whole life. By that I mean my parents were children’s pastors, I was there every time the doors were open (and many times when they weren’t!), and I never dreaded going to church. It’s just what we did, like second nature! I loved Jesus and I knew that He loved me. I knew He had a big plan for my life. I knew that I was a Christian - a follower of God.
What I now know is that I was missing a HUGE part of the picture… A RELATIONSHIP with God!
I distinctly remember a specific moment when I was a young girl, and my mom was laying on her bed reading her Bible and doing her morning devotions. She was telling me about something she had read, and she said “… and God spoke to me…”. I remember being baffled that she had heard God SPEAK to her. Of course, I had read the stories in the Bible about that happening, such as God speaking to Moses audibly through a burning bush. Had my mom heard the big booming voice of God? What had He sounded like? Did she REALLY
hear God or is that just a figure of speech? All these thoughts and questions swirled through my head and I came to one conclusion… I don’t think I will ever be as close to God as Moses was… I had never heard God speak to me, and I probably never will.
I didn’t give too much thought to this moment for many years. Going into high school I was extremely active in my youth group. My youth pastor took us on many mission’s trips and had requirements we had to complete to be eligible to go on these trips (i.e.: read X amount from our Bible, fill out these devotional journals for X amount of days etc.). Things, that as I look back on now, were tools to provide opportunities to develop and grow a RELATIONSHIP with God. I filled them all out (some earnestly and some with pure nonsense just to get the pages filled) and I felt no closer to that “hearing God’s voice” thing my mom had mentioned so many years ago.
Through high school I was a pretty good kid - don’t get me wrong, I made my mistakes. But whenever I was doing something wrong, I knew it was wrong. Deep down inside I had this feeling. “You were created for bigger and better things than what you’re currently settling for.” I never heard those words directly, but there was always a theme playing through my mind when I knew I was headed down the wrong road - “bigger and better” and “settling”. I felt it, but not knowing what it was, I would soon stuff it down and forget all about it.
As I graduated high school I attended a discipleship program in Fort Myers, FL. When I arrived, something was very different about the people I met and the way I saw them interact with God. They heard God speak just like my mom did. I learned the thing I had been missing this whole time: God is not just someone who loves me, someone who will guide my steps, someone who looks out for me, and someone who is to be obeyed. He is not just only my savior. I learned that God is present. Not in a figurative way - the way a friend says, “I’m with you every step of the way” even though they are not physically next to you. HE IS THERE… like RIGHT THERE! He is not some far off God keeping an eye on me. He wants to be my FRIEND, someone who walks through EVERYTHING I face EVERYDAY, whether the big, the little, the dramatic, the insignificant, the things everyone else sees, and the deepest darkest corners of my life where I barely let myself dwell, much less allowed anyone else to catch a glimpse of. I learned that in every moment of my past, the most beautiful, amazing times and the most heartbreaking, soul-crushing moments… HE WAS THERE!
I learned that God’s voice was not just the booming voice in the movies, or even the burning bush revealed to Moses all those years ago. God’s voice had been that still, small voice inside me whispering “I have bigger and better things for you”.
I learned that I could hear God’s voice whenever I wanted. I didn’t need a big “experience” like summer camp or a worship night to be able to hear him. I learned that I could write down all my thoughts: real, raw, vulnerable, unfiltered… and when I got it all out, if I would take just an extra 5 seconds and close my mouth and mellow my thoughts, I would hear things in my soul. Deep in the corner of my mind I would hear that still soft voice, telling me things about myself, about my situations, about my future that there was NO WAY that I would or could be thinking. I would be thinking thoughts of hope when I was absolutely hopeless. I would be thinking joyful thoughts when all I felt was sorrow.
If you are a skeptic, you may say “oh well you must be a very positive person to be able to pull joy and hope out of the most hopeless and sorrowful situations! Good for you!” It’s true, I have been blessed with a positive mind, but I’m telling you, these thoughts were not and are not my own. Have you ever had a moment when you were in a set of circumstances that just seemed like it wasn’t going right and it seemed like it would never go right again, and then you have a friend who comes along side of you and gives you their outsiders perspective, a perspective you are unable to see from your position? A perspective that brings a glimmer of hope to your otherwise hopeless mindset? It was just like that… but there was no one physically there speaking these encouraging words to me. Only that still small voice producing these “thoughts” inside my head that I, alone, would be incapable of providing for myself.
I soon began to realize that God’s voice was being spoke into and over my life LONG before I was aware of it. God’s voice was being spoke over my life by my parents in their prayers and by my youth pastors and youth leaders in conversation. God’s voice was speaking directly to me though the disguise of “just my conscience”. I had lived many years of my life believing that God’s voice was only for the “super-Christians” and I had no business being one of those, after all, there’s no way that I was good enough for that, just look at all my mistakes!
The day my faith became real was the day that I realized that I could have a personal, intimate, vulnerable relationship with Jesus Christ and His voice was being spoken to me since the day I accepted Him into my heart!
Sometimes we desire our relationship with God to look like it did in the Bible with people like Moses and sometimes, for some people, it really does look like a literal burning bush in front of you speaking in an audible tongue. Though, more times than not, our relationship with God can look like a still small voice telling you that you are not alone, telling you that you are valuable and that He has MORE than what you’re currently settling for, telling you to give an encouraging word to the lonely woman fighting to hold back tears in the grocery store. God’s voice comes in all shapes and sizes if you will.
The key, and what I have learned through my discoveries in my walk with God, is that you will truly discover God’s hand and voice in your life when you stop waiting for the burning bushes and start becoming in tune with that still small voice and training your heart to listen, even if it is only one small word that you are hearing… “bigger”, “better”, “settling”.
I do have a REAL story about how THE SAVIOR of the world pursued me because HE wanted a real, honest to goodness, relationship with ME and you do too. I pray that if you are struggling to hear God’s voice, that you begin that journey of discovering how He speaks to you. He has so much that He wants to share with us, all we have to do is listen.