How to Hear God

As a 15 year old Christian teenager, I listened to the band Barlow Girl on the regular. I downloaded all their music, burned it to CDs and listened to it almost everyday.

I loved the song “She Walked Away”. It kind of tells the story of the lost son in Luke 15. It quoted a few verses from the chapter at the end of the song, so naturally, I had that part memorized too.

And one day, something came up with a friend of mine where those verses were needed. They were verses I had unknowingly hidden in my heart, and I spewed them out to my friend because they overwhelmed my mind. I knew they were what was needed. And someone said to me, “How old are you? You are wise beyond your years.”

Looking back on my life, I feel as though for most of it, I didn’t know how to hear God. I didn’t know what I was looking for. I thought there would be a miraculous sign, or that I would just know what to do.

A few months ago, I felt like I learned. It seemed that for the first time in my life, I was hearing God.

And then He fell silent. He felt like a way off voice, silent and ambiguous among the stars.

That night when verses from Luke 15 came to my mind (also while I was singing Barlow Girl in my head), God was speaking to me. It’s funny; I think we often assume that God speaks only in words, through our own thoughts. But I think He speaks in a multitude of ways, saying what He wants us to hear in a way that is unique to us.

It takes more than just listening to hear Him.

Hearing God is easier when I look back at what He has done in my life.

When we lost a baby in 2013, it felt like a blow I wouldn’t quite recover from. And only a month after I had surgery from an ectopic pregnancy, we found out I was so blessedly pregnant again. God is a God of second chances.

The fall of 2009, I was a free agent. I had no agenda, plan, or idea what I was going to do with my life. Within weeks of returning home from college, doors were flying open left and right. If I hadn’t returned, if I hadn’t decided I was scared out of my mind and that home sounded better, I wouldn’t have the family I do now.

In May of 2003, I remember the way the stage looked at the church I was at. The lights were hitting it just so, and I was standing next to a friend as a girl walked up to me and smiled. She asked me if I wanted to know Jesus. If I think about it long enough, I can still feel the dozens of hands covering my back and shoulders as they prayed with me in hallelujahs over deciding Jesus was my Savior.

I hear Him best when I have remembered just how good He has been to me.

Hearing God gets easier as I read His Word more and without agenda.

I used to need a devotional to get my mind moving. I would read a paragraph in a book of the Bible and would wonder why it was important. I would read expecting whatever passage was before me to speak to me loudly, be applicable to my life, and encourage me. I often only read seeking to gain.

I hear Him best when I’m just reading to listen. Something that changed my view of the Bible before me was this idea: The Bible is the telling of His people’s obedience. It’s true. All that happens in the Bible is because His people decide to be obedient to Him. Reading about it, soaking in their stories, makes me see that I’m not so different. I can be just like the greatest of those in the Bible simply by being obedient.

I hear Him best when reading the Bible is a get to, never a have to.

Hearing God is easier when I’m in an ongoing conversation with Him.

The summer of 2014 sticks out greatly. It was a summer of fear, anguish, and distraught all wrapped up in a lot of giant leaps of faith. My conversations with God were continuous chatter. I never stopped talking to Him because I didn’t want Him to leave us. I was scared. So I talked all the time. I prayed with my husband all the time. I cried. I hugged my kids. And I prayed without ceasing.

I have a tendency to talk His ear off. I tell Him all about what I need, what I want, what would be nice. Sometimes I forget that He and I are in a conversation, not just a confessional of me saying every thought that comes to mind.

It’s truly difficult and occasionally uncomfortable to just sit in silence with Him. He doesn’t always say something to me. Most times it isn’t in the form of audible words. It’s like the Spirit takes hold of my heart, and He brings stories of my past to mind, or visions of what is possible.

I hear Him best when I’m always connected to Him.

Sometimes hearing Him means the Word coming alive. Sometimes it means another person saying something that brings us peace, answers prayer, or gives us a sense of guidance. Sometimes it means waiting.

He never leaves us, you know that? He isn’t ambiguous and among the stars. He’s always near, always in our hearts. Don’t stop speaking to Him if He only seems silent. Don’t stop reading His Word. Don’t think He hasn’t had a hand in your life since the beginning.

Converse with Him always. Read the Word everyday. Look back on what He has already done in you.

And you will hear Him.

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