Many people claim that God told them to do something or that He has enlightened them in some way, but have they really heard the voice of God? Does God even talk to people today the way he did in Biblical times? If so, who hears the voice of God? Of course, if you don’t believe that God exists, you won’t believe that people have ever heard His voice, so I will not try to prove God’s existence to that audience. This blog is aimed at those who DO believe that God exists, but have asked themselves the questions above.
We must first answer the question of whether or not God speaks to people today as He did in Biblical times. Many people claim to believe in God, the Bible, Jesus–all things Holy. Yet there is a great divide among the various “Christian” faiths as to the meanings of the scriptures and whether they were written for people of long ago or for all generations. For the purpose of this blog, I will take the position that all scripture is relevant today.
Taking that stance, I will explore what the scriptures have to say on the subject of God speaking to people today. Let’s take a look at the character of God as it concerns His unvariedness. James 1:17 states, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.” Additionally, in Hebrews 13:8, we are told that Jesus is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Therefore, we have established that God has not changed in His character, in His love, or His mode of communication with humanity.
So how do we know if someone has TRULY heard the voice of God, as so many claim? We have to compare messages that God gave in scripture to what one is claiming to have heard from God. God will never tell anyone to do any act that is contrary to His Word or His character. Additionally, when someone proclaims that God told them a future event will happen at a certain time or in a certain way and it does not happen, you know that person has NOT heard the voice of God. In contrast, if someone states that God has given them a prophecy for the future and it is fulfilled EXACTLY as that person claims, you can believe that they had heard the voice of God.
I will go into more details on false prophets and other such persons who claim to hear from God, but are not truly hearing from Our Father, in a future blog.
So who DOES hear the voice of God today? Scripture tells us in Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” God wants to save everyone, though not all will come to the knowledge of truth. However, many WILL come to God (the called), but for whatever reason God sees fit, He has CHOSEN a few to whom He speaks with special messages. We know from John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” God will speak to your heart by His Holy Spirit and draw you to Him. John 16:13 tells us, “Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come.” He will speak to your heart by His Holy Spirit and convict you of your sins when you stray. God will speak to your heart by His Holy Spirit and guide you in your walk of faith. Every true believer hears the voice of God, or they could not be saved. But there are some with whom the Father has chosen to have a depth of conversation that not many will ever know in this lifetime.
Understand that no one CHOOSES to be among the “chosen” to whom God speaks with special messages. No one can bargain, barter, or beg God to be one of “the chosen few.” God does not always choose someone that the world would consider worthy of this awesome privilege, as we see throughout scripture. Before God spoke to Abraham, Noah, Moses, etc, they were just ordinary people. If they had not harkened to God’s voice, we likely would not know them today. But God chose to speak to these great people because He KNEW that they WOULD listen and heed His Words. Of course, we know that none of the people to whom God chose to speak were perfect-even after they heard the voice of God. But their HEARTS were after God. In other words, they may have fallen to human frailties, but they were quick to repent and truly sorry for the error of their ways. Their desire was to serve and please God, even if they stumbled along the way.
Does God only speak to adults? 1 Samuel 3 tells the story of Samuel, as a very young child, hearing the voice of God. At first, he thought that Eli was calling to him. But after the third time that Samuel went to Eli saying, “here I am, for you called me,” Eli realized that it was indeed God Himself who was calling upon Samuel. So even as a child, God can speak to us.
Having said all of this, I will now share with you that God has spoken to me throughout my life. Yes, I have failed Him miserably. No, I am not (at least in my own opinion) anyone special to whom God should choose to speak. However, God HAS chosen to speak to me and I will now share with you my experiences in hearing God’s voice.
The first time that I can remember hearing God’s voice (though I certainly didn’t know it at the time, much like Samuel in 1 Samuel 3,) I was about 7 years old. I can remember the exact spot where I was at that time- in the sitting area of the dining room. I was sitting on a couch beneath an open window with the Mimosa trees in full bloom. God spoke to me and said, “You are special.” At that time, we were not a “church” family. We only attended on special occasions, if then. However, our mother had taught us to pray when we were very young and I had a great faith in God.
I was certainly not learned in the ways of the Lord nor in hearing the voice of God, so I looked around to see who had spoken to me. There was no one around. I was there alone and yet, as clear as I had heard anyone else, I heard this “Voice” speaking to me. The message was simple and I did not understand it at the time. I didn’t think of myself as anything special or certainly worthy of any extra attention by the Creator of all that is. However, in the future, I would hear this message again and again.
As I have written about in other blogs, I suffered great abuse as a child and this message came to me either just before or just after the abuse began-I’m not quite certain, except that it was about the same time. Because of the abuse, I had a very low self-esteem so that I would never really feel very special-even when I would hear this message. As most children do, I thought the abuse was somehow my fault and I felt dirty and unlovable-yet this Voice would continue to tell me that I was special. It would be many years before I would begin to understand the message.
I was not special because of anything that I had done, but rather because God SAID that I was special. He did not say, “You are perfect. You will never make mistakes. You are better than others.” He simply said, “You are special.” I am sure that there are many who would argue that I am certainly nothing special, but I will not attempt to change their minds. I will simply stand by the statement from the Lord.
So how do I know that I wasn’t simply talking to myself? For one thing, I would have said to myself, “I am special”-not “You”. Additionally, I certainly wasn’t vain enough to think of myself as special in any way. I knew that I was hearing a voice not my own, but not human either. In John 10:27, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice…” I cannot explain this to anyone who has not heard the voice that I have heard, but I eventually knew that it was the voice of God.
My Aunt Imogene, a great woman of faith and faithfulness, often heard the Voice of God and I was in awe of her connection with the Lord. When she prayed, her prayers were answered. She never doubted (or at least never let anyone know if she did). One day she was visiting us here in South Mississippi when, as we were riding down Highway 90 along the beach, she shuttered and proclaimed, “God is going to send a great judgment upon this place.” I don’t remember if she elaborated, except that there was going to be a great destruction. A few months later, Hurricane Camille hit this area and it was the most devastating hurricane in the area to that date. I do believe that my Aunt Imogene heard the Voice of God.
Shortly after Hurricane Camille struck this area, a gentleman came to our door to discuss some roofing repairs-the only loss we had even though we only lived a few blocks from the beach! Because my mother has worn 2 hearing aids since I was a very young child, she had difficulty understanding what the man was saying. The man asked her if she believed that God could heal her hearing. He asked if he could pray with her. After praying with her, he invited us to attend his church, where they prayed for healing regularly. (My mother still wears hearing aids-healing will be the topic of another blog-but, yes, I absolutely believe in healing!)
At this time, we were visiting churches looking for a church home. Having been raised Congregationalist in the North East, my mother was not particular as to what church we attended since there were no Congregationalist churches in this area. We had visited churches including Baptist, Nazarene, and Church of Christ, but had not found a church home. This gentleman invited us to an Assemblies of God church in Gulfport (Mississippi). This was a Pentecostal church where they shouted, raised their hands, and spoke in tongues. The women wore long dresses and no makeup and little jewelry. My Aunt Imogene was Pentecostal, though I was not familiar with exactly how the services were carried out.
As we began to attend this church, there was a great emphasis on “speaking in tongues” as a symbol that you have been filled with the Spirit of God. I began to study this and though some of my family members began to speak in tongues, I was not quite sure about the practice. I wanted to understand it all to be sure that this was really something from God and not a man-made situation. I would often find myself at the alter with people grasping my jaw and shaking my face, as if somehow I would begin to speak in tongues if they just moved my mouth in the right way. But in my spirit, I knew this was not God’s way. None the less, one day, deep in prayer, I began to pray in a language that I did not know. I cannot explain it to someone who has not experienced it, but I knew that my spirit was communicating with God in a way that was deeper than prayers that I could utter of my own understanding. A friend from high school visited church with me once and while we were in the choir room praying , she said that an aura of light was shining around me! I have never seen this myself, but she was a very sober and somber person and not prone to making such statements if they were not true. Again, I am far from perfect, but I know that I have a measure of faith that says, “Though I may fail Him, God will NEVER fail me!”
Remember that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Having said that, Jesus said, in Mark 16:17 “And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.” Unfortunately, many Pentecostal churches have put too much emphasis on the act of “speaking in tongues” above all else. There is a time and a place for speaking in tongues. Some are given the gift to speak in tongues within a group and there should be someone there to whom God has given an interpretation-lest there be confusion. However, to date, my gift has be a personal prayer language between God and me. I have not felt compelled to speak out in tongues in front of others, though some may have heard me praying in tongues in my personal prayers. I do not always pray in tongues. It is not something that I can switch off and on. But frequently when I am personally praising God or in desperate prayer, a beautiful language comes forth from my lips. Should God tell me to do so, I would speak out in tongues. But for now, I have this gift for my own personal edification.
It was shortly after I began to pray in tongues-a deep, meditative prayer beyond what I could utter on my own-that I had the following incident. I was struggling with trying to serve God and wanting to live a holy life, yet knowing how dirty I was because of the abuse that I was still enduring at home, I never felt worthy of God’s grace. In fact, as I drew closer to the Lord, my father would tell me, “Now go and ask Jesus to forgive you,” when he would finish with me. I was in mental torment and in great fear of being cut off from God because I was a “dirty sinner,” no matter how hard I tried to be and do good.
One afternoon as I left the high school cafeteria to sit outside on a bench waiting for lunch break to be finished, I literally saw a battle going on in my mind! I could see demons and angles fighting for control of my mind. Satan spoke to me and said, “I will take your mind.” It was not the first time that I would hear Satan’s voice, but I had learned by this time whose voice this was and it wasn’t God’s. I had also learned to rebuke Satan in Jesus name (just as someone with the power of attorney has the authority to speak in someone else’s name) and that is exactly what I did. I began to pray that God would keep my mind sound and deliver me from the forces of Satan. I immediately received the peace that passes all understanding. I later began to realize that the statement, “I will take you mind,” did not necessarily mean that I was going to go crazy, but that Satan would do all that he could to “take my mind” away from God. I needed to be on constant guard against that attack of my mind-but I would not always succeed. Not because God had somehow failed to keep my mind, but because I had allowed things to enter into my mind that had no business there-fear, lust, hatred, etc. We must ALL guard our minds DAILY against the “wiles of the devil.” Thus we are instructed in Ephesians 6 to put on the whole armor of God-including the helmet of salvation-the protection of our mind!
After high school, I attended the local junior college and had begun dating a young man that I had admired in high school. He was very popular and was a year older than me, so I never expected to see him much less date him after high school. I was thrilled to be dating him, but for some reason, dating him was more like going out with a family member. I had no romantic feelings for him. It was not anything he did, I simply didn’t have the emotions that I thought I would have. One night, after Christmas when I was with this young man, I heard the Voice of God again. “I want you to go to Southeastern,” God told me. I was surprised that God was telling me to go off to Florida to a college in which I had no interest. I had been hoping that if I continued to see this young man, my feelings for him would change. After all, he was quite a catch and I was desperate to get married and move out of my parents’ home to get away from the abuse. I had never planned to go so far from home to college because I was still very close to my little siblings and I knew nothing about this college except that it was sponsored by our church and a few of the young people from our youth group had gone there. Howbeit, I KNEW this was the Voice of God and I had to tell this young man that I would be going to Florida for college.
I went home and told my mother that I wanted to go to Southeastern Bible College in Lakeland, FL. I didn’t even know where Lakeland, FL was, but I knew that I was supposed to go there! Since it was already after Christmas, and the new semester would begin on January 4, it was pretty much impossible to think that I would be able to get all of the paperwork done and be accepted for that term, but when God tells you to do something, He makes the way! I began classes at Southeastern on January 4, 1975!
I would only be there for one semester because near the end of the semester, my father, who had not been happy about me going off to Florida, called me to inform me that I would NOT be going back. In a panic, I basically asked the young man who I was just beginning to date, if he would be interested in marrying me! I knew that my father meant what he said about me never leaving again! Since the young man was trying to get away from a bad situation in his own home, the young man said that he would marry me. I knew that I did not love this young man, but I was desperate to get away from my parents’ home. However, God had a plan that I could not possibly see at that time.
We were planning to get married in June, but the new church building would be finished by then and we would be the first couple married in the new church. Since he was from Orlando and his family and friends would not be at the wedding, the young man began to panic and change his mind because there was so much pressure on us to have a HUGE wedding. I felt like this was my last chance to get away from my parents so I said, “Since we are getting married anyway, why wait until June? Let’s get married this weekend!”
We went back to my house and announced that we were getting married that weekend, before the new church building was complete. It never occurred to me that anyone would think that I was pregnant and that was why we moved up the date. I just wanted to get married before my last chance slipped away. I had no idea what marriage was all about, but I didn’t think it could be any worse than what I was enduring at home. I can remember standing at the back of the church as the music began playing, thinking, “I hardly know this guy and I don’t have any real feelings for him, but my mother always said that you can learn to love anyone.”
Our marriage was rocky from the start, but I would be blessed with my three sons, and for that I will be forever grateful. In fact, I had been in labor for nearly 24 hours with our second son when I would hear the Voice of God again. My husband was not a patient man and my hours of crying out in pain were irritating him. He was basically telling me to hurry up and get this over with-as if I had some control over what was going on. The pain was unbearable and I didn’t think that I could last another minute. My husband’s complaining only made me feel worse. I began to pray that I would NEVER have to go through this again! I had wanted many children, but by now had figured out that my husband was not a very good father or husband and that it was probably not a good idea to have a bunch of children with him. However, as I lay there in labor, the Lord spoke to me and said, “You have another son coming.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, since my mother had given birth to twins and didn’t know until after the first one was delivered that another one was on the way. Was I having twins? No.
I would become pregnant again when my second son was only 9 months old. I couldn’t imagine going through labor again, but I was not able to take birth control pills, so I knew that I could become pregnant again. At that time, you could not have your tubes tied if you were under 25 years old unless it was deemed medically necessary. But by God’s good grace, my doctor would agree with me. I had to have a C-section due to the baby’s size (over 9 lbs and 24 inches…2ft long). Since I am only 5’2″ myself, this baby was taking up nearly half my height! While they were doing the C-section, I opted to have my tubes tied. While I was pregnant with this baby, I discovered that my husband, whom I had met in Bible College, was now smoking pot in addition to getting drunk. I didn’t want to bring another baby into the world with a father who was on drugs. I prayed before the surgery and told the Lord that I was acting in good faith that if He indeed intended for me to have more children, a little thing like tying my tubes couldn’t prevent it from happening. When I shared my concerns about my husband with my Dr., he agreed to tie my tubes.
Seven years into our marriage, I would hear the Voice of God again. I had never told anyone except my mother about the abuse that I had endured from my father, but she never did anything about it, so I didn’t tell anyone else. However, one day the Lord spoke to me and told me that the whole ugly story was about to come out in the family and that I needed to share this with my husband. When I told him what my father had done to me, my husband’s reply was, “You mean you were USED when I got you?” I was crushed at his reply, but about a month later, my parents announced that they were divorcing and the whole ugly story came out to the family!
Within a few months, my husband began having an affair with another woman. He simply came home one day and said, “I don’t want to be married anymore. I love someone else and I’m leaving.” Our sons were 6, 4, and 2 years old at the time and I was a stay-at-home mom. How would I take care of our children? How would I pay the bills and feed them? I felt like my entire world had just imploded! I went about my daily chores catatonically. I knew what had to be done and I did it, but I was completely numb. My father was quite wealthy, and though I had gotten away from my parents, I was still close to my younger siblings, so I would still visit on occasion. I could go to my father for financial support, but at what cost? I could lose the few pounds that I still had in baby weight, but if this woman was so much more beautiful than me, I could never win my husband back. I was completely lost and had no idea what to do.
As the boys sat at the dining room table eating lunch a few days after my husband walked out, I was folding clothes and found myself lying on the floor in a fetal position, crying into a blanket. The Lord spoke to me and said, “Love him home.” Love him home??? How could God tell me to love someone who was committing adultery and had abandoned his family. Then it suddenly dawned on me! All of my life I had feared being rejected of God because I knew that I was far less than perfect, yet God was telling me to show this man HIS love. The Lord showed me that no amount of my father’s money, nor any beauty that I might attain could possibly bring my husband back. But forgiveness-unconditional love-would win him back! And the Lord also showed me that if He could forgive my husband and love him still—He could forgive and love me!
I immediately got up and the Lord began to show me things to come. For example, I saw my husband coming home. He would be in a truck and would come to the side door carrying his lunch box and thermos, as if he were simply returning home from work. I wrote that down on my calendar.
It was during my husband’s absence that I grew closer to God than I ever knew possible. He would reveal truths from His Word that I had read many times and never understood. I would learn to walk by sheer faith alone—trusting God for each meal, each bill, and every need. I was able to get food stamps to provide for my children and one day as I was heading to the store on my bike (since my husband had taken the car) with one child sitting in the basket, one in the child seat on the back, and one on the seat as I stood up to pedal, I was singing “We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of our God!” I was completely at peace and happy for the first time in my life! It was the worst time of my life and the BEST time of my life, all at the same time. A friend commented to me, as I pedaled and sang, “They are going to put you in Whitfield (the state mental hospital). How can anyone be that happy with all that you are going through?” (Years later, that same friend would end up in Whitfield from a nervous breakdown.)
During those several months that my husband was gone, I grew in the Lord more than I knew possible and I had a wonderful prayer warrior as a mentor. One day she said to me, “Are you going to take him back before he gets right with God?” I was shocked! Of COURSE I was going to take my husband back, no matter what state he was in. After all, God had told me to love him home and that is what I was going to do. I suppose that I thought I was so close to God that I could never fall away again, so when she told me that taking him back before he got his life right with God could pull me away from the Lord, I arrogantly said, “That will never happen!”
Boy, was I wrong!!! It wasn’t long before my husband came home. A friend brought him home in a pickup and when he got out, the first two things that he grabbed where his lunch box and his thermos! He came in at the side door to the house! Exactly as the Lord had shown me!!!
But I was soon compromising my faith in order to keep my husband happy and to keep him with us. The Lord began to tell me that my oldest son, Andy, “would be as if he were an only child.” That message upset me, but I KNEW the Voice and I knew that God does not make mistakes! I pleaded with God and begged that He not take my other two sons. I would hear this message again and again over the next several years and each time I would beg God not to take my other two sons.
As I said, by trying to appease my husband, I began to allow things into my life that I never imagined that I could do. Though he did start out going to church with us, it wasn’t long before he quit going, and we quit going as well. Just like the children of Israel began to fall away and lose faith after all of the miracles that God had done for them in delivering them from Egypt, I too, began to lose faith. I didn’t turn my back on God, but I simply starting trying to fix things myself instead of leaving them in God’s hands.
Remember the friend who told me that I would end up in Whitfield if I didn’t stop praising God in the midst of my troubles? The Lord spoke to me and told me to stop hanging around with her. I couldn’t understand it. She had been my friend through out all of my troubles with my husband and she was an emotionally needy person. She didn’t have many friends and I understood her. I argued with the Lord about it, but He was clear in what He told me. I wish that I had listened to Him!
A few years later, my friend decided to go to college and become a nurse. She came to me and informed me that she would no longer be able to hang out with me because she was going to be “college educated and would need to hang out with educated people.” I had graduated from high school and had a year of college before I married. I never thought that I was somehow too educated to hang out with her when she only had a GED. But now she felt that I would be beneath her. She then proceeded to tell me that should she divorce her husband, she could have any man she wanted. When I replied, “Well, if I divorced my husband, I could have any many I wanted,” she immediately said, “I’m not talking about drunks and derelicts, I’m talking about real men.” I was truly hurt. But her husband and my husband were friends, so I knew that we would still see them.
Sure enough, only a few weeks later, our husbands had gone to a party and gotten quite wasted. My husband brought my friend’s husband back to our house and said, “Maybe he can do something for you that I don’t,” then announced that he was going back to the party to find someone (woman) to party with.
Since the day we married, our “love life” had been more than just lacking, as my husband didn’t believe that a Christian woman was supposed to enjoy the love-making process, so he refused to do anything to bring me pleasure. Now he was giving me permission to enjoy myself with someone else. Of course, that was a ridiculous idea! I would NEVER commit adultery!
I went to get a blanket and pillow for my friend’s husband. When I brought them to him, him grabbed me, kissed me, and told me that he had long desired to be with me. I will not make an excuse for what followed, but I gave in to temptation and had a short-lived affair with my friend’s husband. I wish I could take it all back. But what was done, was done. I soon realized WHY the Lord had told me to quit hanging around with this friend. Had I obeyed, she would not have been able to make those cutting remarks that made me vulnerable to her husband’s advances, in an “I’ll show her” manner. There was another thing that occurred that would not have occurred had I obeyed the Lord and stopped hanging around with this woman, and I will discuss that a little later.
My husband was now doing the same things that he had been doing before he left us for the other woman. I had not recognized the signs then, but I knew them now. I began to make plans to leave him. He was doing drugs again and was beginning to be quite bizarre. For example, one night when a neighbor and her husband had a fight, he dressed in camo, painted his face, got his sawed-off shotgun, and began to “walk the perimeter” of our fenced yard in downtown Long Beach-a quiet, residential area in a little town. He had turned the couch over in the living room and ordered the children and myself to hide under it, “in case ‘they’ (the government) came in to get us.”
A few days after that incident, while he was quite drunk/high, he ordered me to go get him a six-pack of beer. I had to be back in 15 minutes, with exact change, or “I will start shooting kids (his own kids)” as he wielded his loaded 357 magnum. I knew he meant it and I knew it was time to get out!
I began making plans to leave him, but I didn’t know where to go. My mother had moved to California to be near my sisters who had moved out there and I couldn’t afford to move out there. My father still lived alone in the mansion by the beach, and even though I had counseled with my pastor about my father’s abuse (after I told my husband about it), my pastor suggested that the children and I move back into the my father’s house. That was not an option as far as I was concerned, as my father had made it clear to me, even after my children were born, that he still had desires for me.
I knew that my husband was violent and that the children and I would not be safe if we were still in the area. I looked up an old boyfriend in Georgia and he was single. Within a few weeks the children and I moved in with him. I knew that it was not right in God’s eyes, but I was not trusting God-I was trusting what I could see-which was only one way out.
I lived with the boyfriend for about a year when my husband, who had by now moved back in with his mother in Orlando, came to get the boys for a summer visit. I didn’t want to let them go, but since he had refused to finalize the divorce and we were still legally married, I didn’t have much choice. When he brought them back to me, he told me that he had a loaded gun under the front seat (and I knew he did-he always did). He said that he was taking our oldest son, Andy-now 13- to live with him in Orlando. He wanted to get on welfare and he had to have a child living with him to do so. He told me that if I tried to stop him from taking Andy, that he would just kill me and take all of the boys-and I KNEW he meant it!
As soon as they left, I went straight to the police. I told them what had happened, but they informed me that since the divorce was filed but not finalized, they could not do anything. Since I had not actually SEEN the gun (even though I knew he never went anywhere without a loaded gun), they said that there was no proof that he had really threatened me! I was not where I should be with God. I had not turned my back on God or quit believing, I had simply allowed the world to enter in and was not living a life pleasing to my Father. But in His infinite love, God spoke to me even then and reminded me that He had told me that “Andy would be ‘as if he was an only child’.” Andy was now living with his father in Orlando-as if he were an only child!
When my husband’s girlfriend became pregnant about a year and a half later, he no longer needed Andy in order to stay on welfare, so he allowed Andy to return to me-but this time on MY terms. In order to stay in his mother’s home, my husband had to be married to his pregnant girlfriend-but he was still married to me. I told him that I would sign the final divorce papers-when he returned Andy to me and did not try to take him again! He agreed and he never again came to see our sons until they were grown men.
Though I knew by this time that I did not want to marry the boyfriend (as he was a mean drunk), I was forced into the situation in order to maintain my temporary home. I did try to make that marriage work, but after years of abuse and being told how he would like to be with other women, “if I would give my permission,” I finally divorced the second husband.
However, while I was married to the second husband, I would still hear the Voice of God. We moved back to the Mississippi Gulf Coast the same month that casinos opened here. I had never believed in gambling, but it was after the Lord had spoken to me to quit hanging around with my friend, that I began going to church bingo games with her, reasoning that it was not really gambling, but giving money to charity. That opened the door for me to later become addicted to gambling.
I didn’t mind going to bingo, as it was raising money for charities. But I always felt a little funny about it (conviction). Then when the casinos opened, I was invited to go with friends and family members. I didn’t see the fun in putting a five dollar bill in a machine and within a matter of minutes, walking away with nothing. However, when friends came to town, they wanted to go and would usually pay my way if I would show them around. On one such trip, I actually hit a small jackpot and began to realize that this might just be fun. I reasoned that the money was going to education, and being that I was back in college to complete my degree to teach, I would actually be reimbursed the money when I began teaching, as teachers’ salaries began to rise with the influx of casinos.
It wasn’t long before I was gambling on a regular basis-only small amounts at first-but as I began to win more and more, I found myself addicted. I would ask friends to pray for me to quit going and would read scriptures that indicated why I shouldn’t gamble-such as Isaiah 55:2 “Wherefore do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfies not?” But I would continue to gamble. I finally realized that I was addicted when I could hardly concentrate on work on Fridays, knowing that on Saturday morning I would be in the casino and maybe then win the jackpot that would allow me to pay off all my bills-like the loans I was taking to pay my bills because I was gambling. I was teaching by this time, but even though I had a good salary, I was always in debt because of my gambling.
I would pray for the Lord to deliver me, but I would go right back to the casinos. Then one Friday night, as I lay in bed imagining how much I might win the next morning, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Don’t go.” I began to argue with the Lord-you would think I would have learned my lesson about listening to the Lord by now-but no. I argued, “But, Lord, I will only spend $20.” “Don’t go,” I heard. “But, Lord, I don’t go to movies, or eat out, or spend money on myself. This is the only selfish thing I do for me.” “Don’t go,” He said again. By now, I had gotten out of bed, sometime after midnight, and was pacing the kitchen floor, arguing with God. As I paced back and forth making excuses to go, the Lord finally said to me, “Do you NEVER want to hear my voice again?” I was instantly snapped back to reality~~~and instantly delivered from gambling!
I will not even buy a raffle ticket for a charity. I have played bingo with my fiancé and his mother a few times, but he has purchased the cards and I have given any winnings to him. We do it occasionally for his mother to have some socialization. But I will NOT pay for the cards, as I WILL NOT gamble again. He plays the lottery and says that he will give me half the money if he wins, and that is fine if that is what he chooses to do, but I have shared my story with him and he knows that I will not pay for gambling of any kind. We went to a casino for dinner one night and we received “free play” but I even felt guilty about playing that so I can not do that again. I realize that it was not “technically” gambling since I didn’t put any money into the machine, but it was too close to a sin from which I have delivered for me to want to do that again. Am I ever tempted? Of course I am. I was an addict. But I am also delivered and pray that I never, by God’s grace, get caught up in that again.
The Lord has spoken to me since about other things and again I have not always obeyed-and again regretted my failure. However, I know that God is long-suffering, forgiving, and still talks to me, though I know that I am far from perfect.
Recently, after my second divorce and feeling that I may die before I ever know the true love of a man-the kind of love that God intended-the kind of love that leaves no doubt that I am loved (which I never knew from either husband and for which I have sought my entire life)-I prayed for just such a love. As I prayed, the Lord said to me, “Wait. Trust. Believe. Receive.” After all, who would fall in love with a woman who was in her mid-50s, overweight, and by this time, disabled?
However, I kept praying that there would be a man somewhere who could love me just as I am. I heard those words over and over again-“Wait. Trust. Believe. Receive.” Even though I dated a few “possibles,” and wondered if they might be “the one,” I knew in my heart that they were NOT the one. I finally resigned myself to the fact that even if I never know that kind of love from a man, God has always loved me-no matter what. I had finally come to the place where I stopped looking for a man to fill that emptiness in my heart. I have my children and grandchildren and I know that they love me.
And then it happened! God brought the most amazing man into my life. He loves me for me. He doesn’t expect anything from me and treats me with the love, honor, and respect that I never received from either of my ex-husbands. Within a month, he told me that he planned to marry me. We are planning to get married as soon as we get some financial things in order-but they are not gambling debts-praise God!
And God is still speaking to me. Recently a situation came up and I wanted to go see what was going on. The Lord spoke to me and told me to stay put. Though I was very curious as to what was going on (because I knew that it concerned me), I am grateful that I obeyed and stayed put. As it turned out, the person was just trying to stir up trouble and I would have been caught up in it had I not obeyed.
So to answer the question, “Does God still talk to people today,” the answer is a clear YES! Who hears the Voice of God? Though we are all drawn by God’s Spirit, a few are chosen to hear special messages from God. How many is “a few?” I have no idea. It is NOT for me to know. But I do know that when God speaks to you, you WILL know that it is HIS voice!