How Does God Speak to You?

An account of a young boy's hearing God clearly for the first time

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Posted in , May 20, 2016

How do you know when God is speaking to you?

I’m always intrigued by how people hear God speak. Especially since I often wonder if what I’m hearing is from God or the nervous Nellie who resides in the pit of my stomach. (I’ve been trying to evict her for years, but she’s very stubborn…)

The other day I read an excerpt from my Guideposts colleague Rick Hamlin’s memoir Finding God on the A Train. In it, he writes about the first time he heard God’s voice back in the 5th grade. So often you expect God to speak in big, can’t-miss-it kind of ways. But Rick’s experience as a kid was quite different. 

Here’s what happened…

“I had become fixated on it. What did God’s voice sound like? If you heard it, was it like hearing the principal’s voice over the loudspeaker at school? …Was it something that only you heard, making everyone else think you were out of your mind? Did God say actual words, or was the message just a feeling that came over you? (And if that was all, did it really count?) I even asked [my Sunday school teacher] Mrs. Clarke one day after class, when the others had gone outside, ‘How do you know if God speaks to you?’

‘My dear child,’ she said, looking at me with those dark, deep-set eyes that disappeared into her head and connected directly to her soul. She knew I was in earnest. She wouldn’t laugh. ‘You’ll know,’ she said. ‘You’ll know.’

Read More: 3 Ways to Hear God

Then one early evening on a clear, rain-washed winter day, I was bicycling home from my piano lesson. The smog that usually shrouded the San Gabriel Mountains had lifted or blown out to the desert. I was coming to a hill behind my school with an incline good for coasting around the corner and all the way to the next street. You could lift your feet off the pedals and sail on the wind. It was getting dark, and the mountains were crushed grape at the bottom and gold at the top. The royal palms bent with the breeze as I lifted my feet off the pedals. And in that moment God spoke to me.

He was in the mountains, in the sunlight, in the dead palm branches clapping against the trunk. He was behind the schoolyard’s chain-link fence and above the lone Frisbee thrown into the air across the newly sodded field, the sweet smell of grass tickling my nose. He was in the street lamps that just that moment clicked on–or did I only notice them just then? …He was in the meatloaf dinner that would be waiting at home and the Wednesday night elation of having got through more than half the week without any mishaps. He was in the approaching twilight and the fading pink. He was in the wind, the night, the day; he was in me.

I knew God spoke to me, words no more profound and no less than the great ‘I am’ echoing through the words of the prophets and the psalms. As I careened down the hill, borne by gravity and some strange emotion I had never known before, I cried because I knew God was.”

What about you? Do you remember the first time you heard God speak? What did He say?

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