“Go pick up the cup,” He said.
Was I literally hearing the voice of God? This voice was completely audible.
Now, I’m not saying this is the only way to hear God, but I was hoping to hear Him this way at least once. The prophets of old had heard His voice and though I didn’t want to be presumptuous, I asked God if I could hear it, too. However, I wasn’t expecting the strange message I received.
It was a sunny and breezy day as we drove across western Kansas to a friend’s house. My Hunny and I were riding in silence enjoying the rhythm of the waves across the golden wheat fields when I heard a soft, male voice speaking directly into my right ear. I flinched and looked over my shoulder knowing no one could be there since we were in a small pickup with no backseat. Immediately I turned to my Hunny and almost said, “Did you hear that?” but quickly changed my mind because his pleasant, dreamy expression was unchanged. He hadn’t heard anything.
Was it God? Was it an angel? Was it my imagination? Why would God tell me to pick up a cup? What cup? Where should I pick it up? Was there anything in my mind remotely connected to a cup? What was I thinking before the voice spoke? I wracked my mind for explanations and came up empty. In frustration, I set the whole experience on the ‘not-for-sharing’ mental shelf because it sounded wacky. It wasn’t a wise message, or a warning, or even a direction. It was baffling and I didn’t understand it.
We arrived at our friend’s house and were enjoying our “catch-up” time together, when my Hunny mentioned how much he liked the coffee cup she’d put his coffee in. Immediately she said, “You do? It’s yours!” At which he laughed, “I didn’t mean to take it!” But she explained that it was a gift from a boyfriend and when the relationship ended she asked God to bring a resolution regarding the cup. It saddened her to look at it, but she couldn’t throw it out since it was special and attractive. “Please take it. I want someone to appreciate it.” She explained.
I jumped out of my chair prickling with excitement. My message was an important answer to her prayer! We had to pick up the cup!
For years afterward, I was in awe that I’d heard an audible voice from God and that He’d given me an important message. The experience was a cherished treasure.
Years went by and I hadn’t heard an audible voice again. I wasn’t pursuing audible anymore. Now I simply wanted to hear from God without any doubts that it was Him. Somewhere I got the idea to start talking to Him. So I began doing this as I drove around Denver doing my part-time, semi-retired job as courier. I chatted to Him about every thought and masked my conversation publicly with the Bluetooth I wore. If someone looked at me weirdly, I’d point to the Bluetooth and they’d assume I was in conversation over my phone. I’d chatter to Him like I would a friend.
Should I have lunch here or there? Should I turn into this driveway or that? What should I wear tomorrow for work? After a few days of doing this, I began to hear answers. The voice was so soft I nearly ignored it. It was inside my head, and sounded similar to my own thoughts, yet I hadn’t created this answer. I hadn’t imagined what my answer would be. I was simply babbling and this answer simply came – immediately.
Being accustomed to “head chatter,” I had almost blown it off as part of the noise. But something caught my attention. This was different. It was a direct reply to my question and not the kind of reply I would have made. I hadn’t created it and it wasn’t constructed in my imagination.
Imagination usually feels familiar. I recognize it as mine. I do the drawing and creating. Usually.
This was pointedly, and obviously coming from another mind. The answers weren’t my thoughts. I pulled over to the side of the road and stopped to breath deeply for a minute because it freaked me out a bit.
Was God finally answering my request to communicate?
After a few moments of calming breaths, I asked another question and immediately another answer popped into my head. I continued talking and more responses came to my mind freely as though I had dialed into a working frequency.
Continuing on my route, I tested this new thing. I stopped asking questions for an hour to see if it was a fluke and would go away. But as soon as I asked another question, another answer responded.
Then suddenly I began to worry. Could I be talking to some other spirit, good or bad? Maybe I was speaking to the whole spiritual realm. I struggled with the concept of hearing God’s voice, even though I desired it. Being a properly raised preacher’s kid, I worried about going into dangerous territory and hearing deceitful voices that meant to lead me astray.
I told my voice about this problem and He said, “Test Me.” So I tried, but without conclusion because no matter what question I devised, I knew that evil had the correct answers, too. How would I know who was speaking to me? Unresolved I said to my voice, “If you are God, then You know what I need to believe. Help me.”
This time the comment wasn’t words. It was an impression. It reminded me of two friends having many heart to heart talks over the course of years. They begin to know and trust each other so deeply that there is nothing that can’t be said.
I focused on the impression enough to ask, “Are you asking me to get to know you like I would anyone?” Immediately the impression was of someone nodding their head in agreement.
This voice was asking me to trust it before I was sure of its origin and that scared me. This was like jumping off a cliff. Then I realized this is how any relationship works. We have to take a risk and jump into it before we find out. It was logical. So I pulled my courage together and continued the conversations.
The voice answered questions simply. It didn’t preach and it wasn’t pretentious. No matter where the conversation began, it ended with an answer that was loving, wise, or peaceful.
Then there were the days I’d ask questions like, “God, what should I do about this? Am I making the right decision?” And He answered with “What do you want to do?” It was frustrating, like talking to a psychiatrist who answers a question with a question. Comically, I’d rephrase the question in a feeble attempt to pin Him down to a direct answer. That was hilarious. Could I outsmart God? Of course it never worked and I’d stand empty-handed pitifully sobbing, begging Him to tell me what to do.
Finally I’d consider what I WANTED to do which lead to another series of validating questions. “OK, I’m choosing this. Is that a good choice?” That didn’t work either. Again, I’d sob and stomp my emotional feet like a child saying, “Why won’t you tell me what to do?!”
“I am with you. Make your choice,” He’d say. Eventually I understood that He refused to be my dictator. He’d given me free will and that fact was forcing me to be brave, trusting Him to be with me, always.
Even now, I forget sometimes and ask Him “What choice should I make?” but His silence is deafening and then I remember with a smile. I’m seated in Heavenly places beside Him where I can choose and then expect Him to always love my choice because it comes from the heart He placed inside me.
Then sometimes our conversations were simply menial details of life.
One day I had a delivery address with no suite number. The building was large, old, and unlettered. I stood looking at it baffled and asked Him to help me. I didn’t want to waste an hour walking to each entrance and hallway only to turn around and try another. He said, “Go in this door. Now go up those stairs.” I did, and at the top of the stairs was the door bearing the company name. Wow. I hadn’t backtracked or taken one wrong turn. I was impressed!
In other cool moments He’d provide parking spaces in difficult places. Downtown is a challenge to a courier who wants to stop in front, dash in and be gone. But in the twenty-some days I ran that route, I only had to pay for a parking space once. I’d look ahead at my itinerary and tell God what I was going to need at the next stop. Often I would arrive just as the previous delivery vehicle was vacating the only “Loading Zone” space.
It makes me feel uniquely special to get these favors from the God of the Universe. But, the single most undeniable proof of His identity is the love He has for people whose actions are pure evil.
At that time, my challenge was Aunt Marge, who had drained my father-in-law’s estate without disbursing funds to the inheritors. I had bound and rebuked this thieving spirit many times. It didn’t work. She stole half the estate.
Afterward, I prayed all the correct prayers of forgiveness but my heart felt the deepest betrayal and victimization. God pieced together the family history, painting the picture of their various means of surviving the Great Depression. Aunt Marge had learned to become a trusted confidant to those who had money. With patience and attention she had become an Executor more than once and many inheritors never received their inheritances.
The moment God told me that He loves her as much as He loves me, my heart screamed. I pouted and couldn’t speak to Him for days. How could He?
Then He reminded me of how frail humanity is all over the world and showed me the fear at the beginning of every evil human action. He said fear had driven her to this survival method as a young girl and she had come to believe this course of action was God’s gift to her.
Even though I was appalled at the scenario, an incomprehensible measure of compassion grew inside me for the fearful torment she’d carried with her every day of her life. I knew this compassion that was growing inside me was His heart healing mine. He adored her right where she was, in the middle of the most erroneous conclusions, and hurtful actions. His heart adored her with a tenderness only a Father could have.
No devil in hell or earth can fake that kind of transcending love and I finally stopped questioning the identity of the voice. This was truly the Creator of the Universe, and He was becoming my best friend.
One day His Spirit Presence gave me a magnificent impression. I will try to put it into words. “Just go with everything you receive from Me. Go with it and trust Me to be the one giving it to you. I am big enough to make Myself known to you. I am big enough to cover it if you understand it the wrong way. If it’s your thought, I can make it My thought because we are One. Trust Me unconditionally and expect Me to be part and parcel with you always working in tandem. Besides, even if it somehow were your biggest error, I am big enough to make it straight.”
Scripture says He makes our paths straight. We don’t make them straight ourselves.
A few times I put Him on hold to check His words against scripture when they appeared to be contradictory, but research unveiled His truth hidden behind slanted translations and doctrines. He was patient while I did this, but my heart felt unexpected sadness in the end. I was disrespecting Him. Checking on Him wasn’t unconditional Trust. It was fear. And that revelation caused me deep remorse.
In tears, I told Him about my regret and He sweetly answered, “Take all the time you need. I love you and I’m not going anywhere. I will be right here when you have chased your insecurity to its end. As you do this, you will chase fear from your heart and finally be free.”
He asked me to be brave and told me that in my research I would find meat to eat and bones to spit out. He came along each time showing me Truth and each time setting me free of some unknown fear I’d been carrying. Oh, how I was humbled to walk into the unknown with only Him beside me.
Everything He said was true. Everywhere He led was right. He wasn’t unreliable. Not once did His words result in error. God is capable of everything. We aren’t required to check His validity and He isn’t afraid to prove Himself.
So, I took the reins off and let Him be God. In whatever way He chooses to communicate with me, I will listen. It can be anything from spiritual to physical to unknown. In “awe and trembling” I give Him unconditional permission to share Himself with me. Laughingly, I asked, “Just please don’t scare me, God. Please.”
He agreed and that’s when His messages became wildly interesting. Once I got a message through blackbirds and another time through an atheist. Sometimes a flash of inspiration or a picture would pop into my head. Sometimes a song came out of nowhere and played continuously behind my thoughts. Each message bore intensely personal meaning. It was a bit like having a Psychiatrist living inside my head, digging out the stuff I didn’t know was there and then leading me so gentlemanly to its resolution.
An audible voice saying ”Go pick up the cup” is no more heart-pounding than birds saying it’s time to sell my house and move out of the city. He’s a BIG God and He doesn’t live within our boundaries. He speaks through everything He’s created. It’s point blank personal and nothing matches knowing the God of the Universe orchestrated a message only to me. Tears of humble reception overtake me. He’s like a Lover coaxing us into submitting to His Love. “Come! Be My Love!” He says.
As our conversations continued, my “head chatter” grew quiet. My mind became peaceful and when fear spoke to me, I recognized it. In clenched hands or tight muscles I recognized it. It wasn’t normal for me anymore. It wasn’t home.
“I will live in the House of the Lord forever,” David said. So I quickly run from fear and return home. It’s the place some call “open heaven” or “His presence.” It’s a “sweet spot” where everything becomes heavenly, where I have favor and joy, and where I began calling Him, Father.
It’s probably correct to say that I was hearing God’s voice inside my “head chatter” all my life, but I was hearing other voices I couldn’t identify and as a group they comprised “head chatter.” Free floating, unidentifiable fear followed them. We take it for granted and assume it’s normal, but it’s not. We were made to hear our Creator. He inspires us. Other voices bring fear.
He defined my head chatter by identifying the voices. I heard them in the night, and yes, they were frightening for a while. I commanded them to leave and that worked, but sometimes it took hours to finish. Then I’d be tired the next day.
As I was wondering if this would go on forever, Father said that simply turning my head to face Him was the greatest weapon I possessed. His voice is all-encompassing compared to others. I can go inside it and be safe. They may be speaking, but what is that to me? They are hollow, emptiness, and will leave for lack of attention. I give my ear only to the voice of my Beloved.
Nowadays when someone says they can’t hear God’s voice, I suggest my exercise. Start talking to Him about everything throughout the day. He hears all thoughts and is a participant in every action. He WANTS us to know Him. He’s big enough to make it happen and teach us how it works.
I could have lived my life with head chatter, and never found the source of my fears. I could have continued getting my guidance from other people who hear God. No one said I had to find the courage to rock my status quo. God would love me just the same. But, I was never sure if those people were really hearing God. How would I know unless I heard Him myself? And as for status quo? Well, it resembled the definition of insanity (doing things the same way but expecting a different outcome.)
Ironically, we all seem to hear His voice at the time of death and that’s accepted in our society. Hospice nurses see it all the time. Our spirit knows the voices around us. They may be angels, or may be God, Himself.
I made the unnerving observation of recognizing God’s voice in some words from a bipolar, schizophrenic. She also heard other voices and sometimes thought they were God too. The identities were wildly mixed up like soup, but her hearing was completely uninhibited. I asked her if she knew God and she immediately got excited, “Yes, I do! We speak all the time!”
I agree this could prompt one to shut down this conversation and run for the hills, choosing never to identify any voice. But when His voice took precedence inside her mix, it was the only time her words were profoundly, even wisely sane. I was glad that He was still speaking, even in her soup. It comforted me on her behalf. She was not shut out from His presence. No one is.
We villainize hearing voices in our modern day because so many voice-hearers have demonstrated murderous, chaotic results by shooting children in schools or people in restaurants. But there are many voices, and if we close the door to all of them, we also close the door to God and leave ourselves without His guidance and companionship. It’s ironic to me that sometimes other cultures and religions don’t have this fear and accept God’s voice as normal for everyone.
It’s a journey, a process. Some would call it either an adventure or pure insanity. Regardless, I’m grateful He gave me the courage to face my internal struggle and simply say “I want to hear You, God!” It’s ironic that I didn’t know He was like a lover eagerly awaiting an invitation to converse with the love of His heart. He was more than ready.
The biggest challenge for me now, is explaining this to other people. Hearing from God sounds wacko, yet ironically we consider ourselves normal by living with head chatter. There is a difference and the courage to unwrap the gift is warranted.
Recently I watched a show about hearing-impaired people and it was the perfect example of how hearing God changes things. Hearing anyone changes things. Our quiet chuckles and silent snickers mean something in a conversation. We understand a sigh or a moan. It generates empathy and we suddenly connect.
The Cochlear implant device can create hearing and when the device is turned on for the first time, the reactions of patients demonstrate how sound connects our emotions.
While a written sentence can be read with understanding, the inflections of a voice can change the meaning. This is the problem we face in basing our faith on a written word, even when it is the Bible.
We, as authors, search for ways to assimilate emotion through descriptive words, but we can never touch the depth of a sob or a sigh.
So ironically, some 150 years ago, we created an icon of the Bible and labeled it The Word. But, Jesus is The Word. His voice carried faith since the beginning of time before Bibles existed. Only in modern times did we think that hearing God’s voice was mystical, and unreliable. We feared that our imagination or other voices might lead us astray, so we leaned exclusively on the Bible, thinking it would solve our problem. But it only exacerbated the problem by isolating our minds to head chatter.
It has always been the voice of God that changes us, even when we read the Bible. We forget He is not ink word on a paper page. He is real Spirit speaking to our hearts as we read and He continues talking when we lay the Bible down to go about our day.
I love the Bible as I love many books written from revelation and inspiration from Him. I also love God’s voice in whatever venue He chooses. I recognize it now. It’s personal and it’s familiar to me. The most secure identity and completeness lives inside the voice of our Lover.
Hearing God’s voice changes everything.
(Edited by Lydia Blain)