Do you believe God can speak to you today—actually speak directly to you? I have a lot of questions for God, and I’ve been waiting to hear from Him for a while now, so I have had my doubts. There’s even some deeper theology in this question in whether or not the canon of Scripture, which is closed, sufficiently speaks for God today.
You may have had a similar experience of wanting to hear from God, or wanting to know God’s will for your life in a certain situations, all the while experiencing the loneliness and doubt of His great silence.
I think I would have said that God has spoken to me before; in fact, I’ve written about the time I felt as if God called my cell phone at 4:30am and another time when I felt as if He woke me up in the middle of the night because He had a job for me to do. But I also had some doubts about those experiences, wondering if I was reading too much into what might have been simple coincidences.
God spoke to John Piper on March 19, 2007. Piper wrote about this experience two days later, and I just read through it a few weeks ago. His testimony has been ringing in my head since I first read it—the reason being that I have been waiting to hear from God for years, and I figured if He’s speaking to Piper and others, then why not me?
Then came this morning. God spoke to me—clearly, unequivocally, personally—and I want to share the story with you.
Here’s a little context first. My wife and I recently moved to Northern Virginia to be near family and discover our mission in this region. We have also been making plans to build our first home on a large conservancy lot in the area, a lot that happens to be next door to where my brother and parents will be building their homes. This may all sound great, and it is, but I’ve been wrestling with these plans for a year and a half now.
I have been budgeting and saving for a house since I was 12 years old. My wife and I have also committed to try to give generously to God and live debt-free in the process, even for a house. But we’re now finally in a position to be able to buy a home. We’ve seen God lead us to move clear across the country when we didn’t expect to do so. We’ve also been gifted the land for the home, which is one of the reasons our plan is even possible. My occupation has uniquely allowed us to be in a position to make these plans a reality. So there are all sorts of good reasons for us to look at this situation and say that God’s hand has been guiding it.
But to be honest, I’ve been struggling with it. I tend to equate spirituality with poverty or generosity, such that giving is always necessarily better than saving or spending. I acknowledge God owns all we have, and that He can direct us to use His money as He sees fit, and that He can bless good stewards both spiritually and materially, and that He means for us to use what He’s given us to meet the needs of our families and the needs of others, but I just couldn’t believe God would want us to drop the amount of cash needed to build a home in this area of the country.
I’ve even wondered if God was giving me the opportunity to build this house, or to not build this house, and the former was good while the latter was better. I imagined coming before God in eternity and discovering that I could have summoned my own courage to go against the conventional wisdom, to ignore the circumstances in our life, to go against the counsel of my wife and my parents, and to make a decision to be sacrificial in spite of it all. And this was my greatest fear—that I would let the chance to do something great for God slip by.
I recently had another conversation with my parents about all of this, and I found myself struggling with these thoughts more deeply. So last night, just before I fell asleep, I begged Jesus: Please tell me what you want us to do with this house.
All this brings us back to this morning, when my phone rang at 3:30am. I woke up disoriented, finally reaching for the phone but answering it too late. My first thought was to wonder if God was trying to get my attention. So I sat up for a moment, looked down at my phone, and wondered who it was that had called.
That’s when I heard God’s voice. Not audibly. But clearly. “If my people humble themselves and pray…”
That’s all God said to me. It was clear and crisp, as if the breaking sunlight at dawn could speak. It sounded out of still darkness, and I felt as if these words were familiar. I suspected it was a passage from Scripture, but I didn’t know where to find it or what the context was. I thought about these words for a moment—perhaps God meant for me to pray. I know I have been avoiding any meaningful sort of prayer for over a year now, so I thought God was encouraging me to pray more. I considered getting up to go pray in the other room, but then the skeptic within me awoke.
I glanced back at my phone, wondering who might have been calling, and redialed the number. It was Delta Airlines. So I checked my flight status and found out my morning flight was going to be delayed. There it was—a completely rational explanation. I thought I was overanalyzing this whole God-speaking-to-me thing, and I realized I could lay back down and perhaps pray quietly to myself while I went back to sleep.
But the moment my head hit the pillow and my eyelids shut, the phone rang again. I accepted the hint this time to get my lazy body out of bed. So I got up quietly, grabbed my Bible, sat on the couch, and tried to find out whether or not the thought that came to mind was actually from Scripture.
That’s when I came across 2 Chronicles 7.
Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land…For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there…“But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight… (vss. 12a, 14, 16, 19, 20a)
These words were alive. “I have heard your prayer.” “I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there.” They leapt off the page and went deep within my spirit to awaken a sense of wonder. I wasn’t aware of time passing; only joy. The God of the Bible, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of David and Solomon, the God of Peter, and John, and Paul, this same God was answering my prayer, and He was speaking His word to do it. I’ve always heard the word is alive, but I can now testify that this is true. Gloriously true!
But there was a sense of fear in the midst of the joy. “If you turn aside and forsake my commandments, I will pluck you from the land I have given you.” God was telling me in no uncertain terms: I have chosen this house, but do not turn aside from me. Never, Lord; may it never be so! But far greater men have failed to keep these sorts of vows to God, so who am I to consider myself worthy to remain faithful?
I know God speaks to us today. I feel silly even making a big deal out of this, because buying a house is a small matter in His great story, but this was an issue deep within my spirit that He needed to address. I also understand the need for contextual interpretation, and you may want to point out that 2 Chronicles is talking about the temple of the living God, not a house in Northern Virginia, and that the temple of the living God today is actually the believer, not a house in Northern Virginia. Some may even want to say that even Satan has used Scripture to speak to God’s people. But context is primarily concerned with interpretation, not illumination, and Satan used Scripture in opposition to God’s word, not to encourage faithfulness.
I suspect God communicates extra-Biblically as well, but I now know the primacy He has placed on his written word. The Bible is not simply a book anymore—like all the others on my shelf—something that is worth reading at times. It is God’s book, and He means to speak to us, truly speak to us, through it.
I figure if God and I are now talking, then I’m going to get all my questions answered. But I suspect this will not be the case, and that a time will soon come where I feel God is silent and distant once more. But I hope to look at this passage that will go on my wall and remember that God still does speak today—personally, vividly—through His word, and that I can go there to meet with Him whenever I want.
When we have questions for God, may we find ourselves on our knees, patiently asking Him for answers, buried deep within His word, where His Spirit will reveal to us the deep things of God—deep things that will speak of His character and nature and great love for us, but also deep things that sometimes answer the small, silly questions that grip us so tightly.
Question: Do you believe God still speaks today?