Yesterday, I briefly mentioned five audible encounters with the Lord. I hope this post sheds a little more light on some of the specifics.
Recently I have been feeling guilty because I struggle with prayer. I guess it is a combination of things, but I find it difficult to talk to Someone Who doesn't usually answer. And, since God knows our thoughts even before we think them, it seems unnecessary to verbalize them. Billy Graham said that prayer is us speaking to God, and the Bible is Him speaking back to us. What about before there was a Bible? Of course, there are many instances in the Old Testament, and a few in the New, that tell of God speaking audibly, but today, if someone suggests that God speaks to them, most people think they might have a problem.
The philosophical say that God speaks through nature. Others believe He speaks through circumstances. Still others are convinced that He speaks in an unlimited variety of ways. He has used donkeys and bushes, after all. I agree with the last group, mostly because I have experienced "hearing Him" on more than one occasion. In my Christian life of forty years, God has spoken audibly to me at least five times. While I did not hear His voice with my ears, I heard Him speak to me in my mind. Some of His more bizarre statements to me were while I was in the bathroom, once in the shower, and once while using the toilet. I know what you are thinking, but I really don't care. It happened. He said to me, "Jesus wept." while I was dealing with my emotions over a daughter getting pregnant. It was immediately understood to mean that it was alright that I felt so betrayed and hurt, as His Son felt the same thing about Jerusalem.
The other bathroom experience was during severe depression. He said, "Turn September Second." I had picked up an Our Daily Bread that November day, looking for solace. He repeated it three times. I finally turned there and the title of the devotion was "God's Love Softens Hearts." Instantly I remembered that two months earlier, while in chapel my first day of Seminary, I had what I thought was a nervous breakdown. I began sobbing uncontrollably. Until I read that title, I never understood what had taken place. Now I remembered; it was all so clear, and realized that the love of God had broken my rebellious spirit. I became teachable.
Which brings me to the tee shirt. I was at a four day retreat, and after going to the altar and praying for God to forgive my lack of spirituality, I returned to my seat. I had tried to pray Philippians 3:13-14, but I couldn't remember exactly how it went. As I stood there, I looked at the man standing in front of me, and his shirt had those exact verses printed on them! Not the references, the verses! I assume he had four shirts with him, and that he could have stood anywhere among the eighty or so there. But on that day, at that time, when I was trying to pray that prayer, he stood before me and gave me the words to speak to God. Yes, God speaks! We just need to look and listen. What is He saying to you right now? What ever it is, it is being said in love. After all, He really does love you.