She stands at the stage up in front, microphone in hand. She talks to a room full of women sitting around circular tables in the fellowship hall of our church. Paper plates sit piled with scones and sliced fruit. Styrofoam cups hold coffee. Strollers line the back of the room. Many women hold babies in their laps. My kids are in the church childcare, and I lean forward, curious to hear each word she says.
She says she hears from God. She doesn’t say I can hear Him too.
After she talks for forty minutes about the challenge of raising kids and following God with our whole lives, she spends the next ten minutes doing something I have never seen before. She tells us that God, during her talk, has been whispering to her about certain people in the room. God has given her messages to tell these women. And she is going to tell us, right here, right now, with microphone in hand, specifically what He has said.
I about fall out of my folding chair.
I’ve read about this kind of stuff happening in those stories I read in the Bible. Those prophets were pretty amazing. Obviously special, clearly close with God. And then this speaker stands up here, a woman a decade older than me, seemingly totally normal, and says God has been talking to her and she is going to tell us what He said. What?! I didn’t know this was possible. Not here. Not now.
But I believe her. Well, at least I want to believe her. Say something to me! Tell me something God says about me! I’ve never considered God wanting to talk to us. I’ve never thought that prayer could be more than a little girl in her bed with the brown paneled walls, asking if God would stop her mom from smoking, telling God she was sad about her dog being run over by a car, believing God must not be anywhere near, once she became a teenager and had sex with boys and was obviously filled with sin and was no good.
Nope, God wouldn’t speak, at least not to me. But maybe He speaks to other people? Yes? Could this really be true?
The lights in the room dim. The speaker stands up there, a light shining on her from above the stage, and she begins talking in vague terms what God has whispered to her: there is a woman here who suffers, whose family member died recently, who is struggling with a secret she doesn’t want to speak aloud. The speaker says she doesn’t know to whom God is speaking in the room, but that God knows who she is and that this is what the woman needs to know: she can share her story; she doesn’t need to stay silent; she is not alone; God is with her; He knows this pain. And, if she’d like to come up afterward? There is more He has to say.
She says there is another woman in the room who is paralyzed by fear, who feels unloved and unwanted, whose illness is debilitating, causing her to question God’s presence, who believes she is not able to be healed. Would she like to come up afterward too? The speaker continues like this, speaking of a few more women whose names she either doesn’t know or she chooses not to speak aloud. And I am begging God through the whole time she is saying all this–choose me! I begin to yearn for something I hadn’t known existed.
I am not considering the possibility that God would speak to me personally, straight to me. Would He want to? But perhaps He would speak to herabout me? I would love to know what God might have to say.
But she doesn’t. I am not one of those lucky women. I don’t fit any of the descriptions. And when the talk ends, and she prays aloud for us all, I am curious about whether or not the women she referenced will go up to the front afterwards. Was it true about them, what she said He said? Did she really hear God speak? Were the women she said God was whispering to her about really here?
And then a woman at my table whom I have never met goes up. And then I see four more women, in different parts of the room, make their way to the front, too. I am jealous. God, what about me?
I look back, a seed being watered I never knew was ever planted.
What has been your experience with listening for God? Do you believe He speaks now? How have you heard Him speak to you?