“…Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” —1 Kings 19:11-12
In the year 2000, I was faced with a decision to continue living in Atlanta or move to St. Louis. What was I to do? I prayed and asked and prayed. I had heard the Lord audibly multiple times, but the only thing I could perceive in this situation was my uncontrollable anxious thoughts. What I would have given to hear God’s answer! Was it yes or no? Finally, I decided to move to St. Louis.
After my big move, things changed dramatically for me. My love life and career options had been stagnant in Atlanta. Within a few years in St. Louis, I had married, was raising my first child, and had been hired by the company that eventually led to an advantageous position. Although I had moved away from my mother in Atlanta, I had the opportunity to renew my relationship with my father in St. Louis. (It was especially rewarding since he passed away a couple of years later.) God did not speak to me with a booming voice, yet somehow He moved my heart to make the right choice. God is my victory!
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 4:19
Back in 1999, I knew I wanted to use my writing skills for God’s kingdom, but I was not sure how to begin. One day, the Lord told me to buy a laptop computer. Back then, laptops were pricey! Still, I bought it in obedience. I used it mostly for writing at first. Over the next few years, many of the things that used to be done on paper transitioned to the computer because of the internet’s growing popularity. I emailed long-distance relatives regularly, and I could not imagine life without that little computer.
Then one day, I received a check in the mail. The enclosed letter informed me that a class action lawsuit regarding a defect on some of the computers had been won. I received the full amount of the laptop computer at a time when I needed it the most. Once again, God had provided for me in an unexpected way. God is good!
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”—Psalm 118:24
I feel most alive when most people drift off to sleep in their beds. When it is time to wake up in the morning, all I want to do is SLEEP! I normally press the snooze button on my alarm clock four or five times before dragging myself out of bed—sometimes crashing into a wall on the way to the light switch. Without an alarm, I usually sleep until at least 10:00 a.m. That is why the Lord’s request caused me such distress.
One night, I felt like the Lord was telling me not to set my alarm. I reminded the Lord that I had something important to do very early in the morning. Then I set my alarm. A feeling of conviction came over me and made me feel so guilty that I turned it off. Then the Lord impressed on me that He would wake me up on time. Warily, I drifted off to sleep. The next thing I remembered, the phone was ringing. I glanced at the clock. It was the exact moment I needed to wake up that morning. I felt like rejoicing when I answered the phone. My mother had called to talk about something insignificant thing, but it really made my day. God is good.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” —2 Timothy 3:16-17
Sometimes I ask God to speak to me. Then I open the Bible to some random spot of the New Testament and read the first red-lettered words of Christ I see. Have you ever done that? Much of the time I cannot make any connection between Jesus’ words and my situation, but I have faith God is somehow speaking to me through His Word. I have good reason to believe that.
It started in recent years. I began asking God to speak to me before I went to bed at night. I would pick up the Bible on my nightstand, open the Bible to some random spot in the New Testament, read Christ’s words, put the book down, and then go to sleep. Then the strangest thing started happening. Every night for a week, I would open to the same spot and read the same verse! I thought there must be a folded page or something in that Bible so I went to use another Bible. I opened it randomly and opened the same verse! It continued for at least a month. Then it started happening again with a different verse! Then another one. I received an A in my college statistics course so I know the odds of this happening over and over again are incredibly remote. God speaks to us through His Word. Even if we don’t understand how it applies to our situation, He is mindful of our desire to know Him more.
“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” —Acts 2:17
Have you ever dreamed something that came true? It happens to me all of the time. I usually dream about my family. Oftentimes it has to do with my past, but every now and then I dream about something that soon comes to pass. Occasionally, I will have spiritual dreams that do not seem to be originate within me. That is when I know the Holy Spirit is communicating information to me. Sometimes they are dreams about other countries. Sometimes I dream about the President of the United States. Other times I dream about tragedies.
Back in August 2011, I had a dream about the Washington Monument. It was on fire. In the dream, I stared at both the burning monument and its reflection in the reflecting pool. My soul was overcome with despair even after I woke up. Knowing that it was a prophetic dream, I turned on the news to see what had happened. There was no major news for that day. Then on September 11, my husband woke me up and told me to watch the news. The twin towers blazed before my eyes. Looking at the burning twin towers seemed eerily similar to the dream I had the month before when I was staring at the blazing Washington Monument and its reflection. In my soul, I knew the dream had been a prophetic dream about the tragedy that occurred on September 11th. That day, I felt total peace in spite of the tragedy. I knew God was in complete control. The Almighty God of the universe knows the future before it happens.
“On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” —Matthew 10:18-20
I am not a very verbal person. If I am going to say something, I always think it and weigh the words first. Many times, I prefer to say nothing at all. Honestly that awkward silence between two people does not feel awkward to me, but I sense it does to others. Whenever I plan to meet with someone, I usually pray for God to give me the words to say—encouraging words, words that will touch them, words that will bring them closer to God. I know He can do this because God has made words fall from my mouth that I had no foreknowledge of. It is quite amazing.
Every time I read this verse, it takes me back to a missions trip I went on to Russia back in the late 90s. I was brought before a large crowd of people, and God gave me the exact words to say during my testimony. I spoke words I did not even know about myself—like that I concluded God wasn’t there because my biological dad was not around much. (We lived out of state from him.) I went on to say how I had heard a voice when I was home alone. It said, “God is real, and the Bible is truth.” (It was a bit scary because there was talk of us being arrested for performing a little skit in a park without a permit. They were very suspicious of us because we were doing good things like handing out free drinks, giving free light bulbs, and cleaning parks.) The Lord gave me the words to say and kept us safe from harm.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” —Romans 8:28
Our family is part of the struggling middle class. We try not to use credit cards so things can be pretty tight. It always feels like we are on our last dime, but then something happens that needs replacing or fixing. And that replacing and fixing tends to be expensive! In those moments, I have learned to repeat this verse either aloud or in my mind. It also helps when I recall one of the many instances when God turned a challenging circumstance into a situation that showed us God’s favor.
One time I had been mulling over the damage that a recent hail storm had done to my car. My thoughts were something like this, “How much will this cost to get fixed? How high is my deductible again? I can’t understand why this happened!” My husband and I submitted a claim to our insurance company (unsure we could afford the deductible). Much to our surprise, the insurance company stated the car was totaled. They mailed us a check for the full amount of the car! They said we could get it fixed or keep the money so we used the money for other things. I drove that car for several more years until it eventually broke down for good. (I guess I should just consider the humility I earned by driving around a pock-marked car a bonus—haha!) Yes, God works everything together for our good because He loves us.
“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 1:6
Christians can have so many sins, scars, and ungodly habits that the goal of holy living can seem overwhelmingly distant and difficult. That was certainly true of me. I understood that Jesus died to close that immense gap between the Lord and me in terms of relationship, yet I knew God wanted to sanctify me as part of my walk with Him. Somewhere in my soul, I kept thinking, “I will give up, and even if I don’t give up—the Lord will grow impatient with me and give up on me.”
Then the Lord showed me Philippians 1:6. In it, the Lord promises never to give up on us even if we stop trying. At times in my walk, I have certainly fallen back into sinful habits. Yet the Lord did not leave me there. He let me take no joy in my old ways. I had given up on some areas of my life, but God kept working on other areas until I was ready for that aspect of my life to be reformed. God has never given up on me or let me give up on myself. The Christian I am today is one who leads a much more Christlike life, and I can be assured that God will continue to work on me “until the day of Christ Jesus.” Thank You, Lord!
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”—Psalm 32:8
There are so many times in my life that I was faced with indecision about the best way to proceed in my life. Take for instance the time I was trying to decide which childcare center was best for our two children. I felt distressed about the decision and prayed for it right before I went to sleep. That night I dreamed my son was playing with two small turtle figurines.
When I woke up the next morning, I called to schedule a tour at one of the childcare centers. I asked for directions because I did not know where it was located. (I had never been down that road before since it was residential besides the childcare center.) After giving me directions, she said, “You will know it when you see it because there are two turtle statues out front.” I knew right away the Lord had instructed me in the way I should go. That was the childcare center my children attended for many years and reflect on with cherished memories and friendships. His loving eye is on us just as He promises in Psalm 32:8. Thanks be to God!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding…” —Proverbs 3:5
There are times in my life when I am sure that I know what is best for me. Then I hear from the Lord, and He wants me to do something else. In the end, I find out that God (of course) was right all along.
Take for instance this time back when I was in college. I was waiting outside of the building for a class to start. Just minutes before I was supposed to be inside, I heard the Lord tell me to take my Bible out of my backpack. I argued with the Lord a little bit—saying I would be late to class, but I eventually did it anyway. Then He told me to sit under a tree and read it. I read it for as long as I could without being late to class. Since it was only a few minutes, I really did not feel like I had gained any wisdom.
About a week later, my mother brought home a local newspaper. On the front cover, there was a student on my college campus reading Charles Darwin’s book “On the Origin of Species.” Right next to that photo, there was a photo of me sitting under a tree reading the Bible. Yes, it is always right to trust in the Lord and not lean on our own limited understanding of what course of action to take in our lives. God is trustworthy!