Have you ever felt God speak so directly that it shook your soul and changed the course of your life?
I have. Three times.
It wasn’t that I heard God speak audibly – though He certainly could if He wanted to.
His voice didn’t thunder down from heaven. Alarms didn’t go off. Lights didn’t flash. But He spoke.
The first time it happened felt like a kick in the pants.
It was 2014, late summer, and I’d moved to Florida that January after divorcing my first husband back in Michigan. Basically, I was living life like the Prodigal Son (read Luke 15) – I hadn’t been to church in at least nine months, couldn’t care less about bulimia recovery, and was living with my atheist boyfriend who’d made it clear he wanted nothing to do with God.
On that particular day, as he and I drove past a church at the end of our street, he suddenly spoke words I never thought I’d hear come out of his mouth. Something like, “I know you grew up going to church in Michigan. If the reason you’re not going here is because you don’t want to go alone… I’d go with you.”
Without hesitation, I knew those words came from God. I KNEW. He was sending me a message – a kick in the pants, like I said – and it rattled me. So much so that I Googled the location of a church recommended to me months before, and that next Sunday we went to 360 Church. That led to me eventually joining a small group, then committing to a one-to-one discipleship program, which drew me closer to God and other believers than I’d ever been in my life.
I may have run away from God, but He never left me. And, in His unconditionally loving way, He made sure I got that message.
The second time God spoke on a typical Saturday in 2017.
I was still in Sarasota, but single and living alone. And, I had a crush on a guy but didn’t know how he felt about me. So, while putting on makeup in my bathroom, I prayed about it.
You see, in the past, I was that girl who tried to make a relationship happen when I liked a guy. That girl who tried to force it vs. letting it happen organically. But, I wanted to trust God more in that area of my life, hence the prayer about my crush. It’s funny, because I thought I was praying the right thing. Asking the right question. “God, is he the guy I should pursue?” Oh, how quickly I learned otherwise.
The moment I prayed that question, it was as if an answer fell out of my bathroom ceiling and hit me on the head. Pursue ME.
Well, that wasn’t what I expected. Not a YES or a NO. Not an option I’d given God in my mind when I asked. Just, Pursue ME. Huh.
With one loudly unspoken statement, God made it clear I was going about it all wrong. Instead of chasing a guy – even a good guy! – I simply needed to follow God, grow my relationship with Him, and trust Him to bring the guy to me IN HIS TIME.
While I can’t say I only pursued God 100% until I met my now husband John, God’s message in my bathroom led me to a deeper relationship with Him during my years of singleness. And, the few times I did start to pursue a relationship, these words helped me readjust my thoughts, feelings, actions, and decisions.
Even now, happily married to John, the message remains important. God should always be my #1 pursuit.
Alright. So, the third time God spoke, I was putting away laundry.
Still in Sarasota. Still living alone. Still single.
It was February 2019. I remember praying for my sister, Danae, while hanging up clothes in my closet. She and her husband were about to move to Knoxville, TN – and she didn’t want to leave friends and family in Michigan. Just as I finished praying she would find peace and thanking God for my remote job so I could visit her anytime, these words burst into my thoughts: Move to Knoxville for your sister.
“God, is that you?” I asked out loud. The idea of moving to Knoxville was so opposite of anything I would have naturally thought. I loved my life in Sarasota and had no intention of ever leaving. Only God could cause this idea to invade my mind with such force.
I spent the next few days praying intensely and talking with family. The more I prayed and talked through it, the more obvious it became that God was telling me to go. So, at the end of my lease five months later, I did.
Then, guess what? Five months after moving to Tennessee, I met John – the man God had in mind for me way back when He told me to stop pursuing other guys. And even further back when He told me to stop running and get back to church.
Gosh, I’m glad I listened.
While I don’t mean to insinuate that it was easy to do what God said, I do want to emphasize that God has done beyond what I thought possible because I said YES.
Of course, God speaks in many, more subtle ways every day – and I sure don’t always listen. Some days, I still think I know best. But you know what? I’ve found that the more I say YES to God, and the more I watch what happens when I do, the more I want to trust Him next time.
Have you experienced life-change from hearing God speak?