Just a few days ago, I had a strange rattle develop on my 1988 Toyota Corolla. I figured it was the housing on the catalytic converter because the rattle went away after the car warmed up. However, it seemed to get worse… Something, or Someone, was nudging me to get it checked. I didn’t want to because the car was running perfectly. But I relented and took the car to the repair shop for them to take a gander.
Before he looked, the repair guy agreed, the band that straps the converter down probably rusted away, so up on the lift it went. I paced back and forth for a few minutes while the repair guy looked at everything.
After about five minutes, he came and got me so I could take a look. There was a weld on the exhaust system which had come loose, no big deal; “but,” he said, “look at this.” He was shining his flashlight up into the crevice of the car by the front right tire while I crane my neck to see… He said, “do you see that wet spot, that’s the water pump. It needs to be replaced.” This is a fairly pricey repair. But I am very glad.
You might be thinking, “Why are you happy about a pricey repair?” Because God is taking care of me. It would have been far worse to have the water pump go out when I was at home, at work, or worse, on the road. I would have had to get the car towed, and possibly miss time at work. And it’s no fun to be stranded. But instead, there was an unusual rattle which prompted me to investigate. I could have just put it off, but I knew it was out of the ordinary.
God speaks. You just have to know how to listen. It is very humbling (and comforting) to know He works in even minor situations like this.
He can speak through His word, other people, during prayer, or a car rattle. The more we know Him the easier it is to hear the different ways He talks to us. I am not trying to be all mumbo-jumbo-mysterious, but practical. He wants to talk with each one of us because He cares so much for us (remember he died on a cross so we could have this opportunity). Just keep in mind, not everything He tells you is about Himself, His Word or a doctrinal revelation, but it can be about little things: a car rattle, a prompting that I shouldn’t go to that party, or I should ask that girl out. 🙂
God working in great ways is wonderful and builds a great amount of faith, but everyday situations such as what happened with my car build faith in small, practical, ordinary ways, and it’s wonderful to experience even if it costs something ($$$).
The profit Elijah experienced God talking to him, but not as he expected: “After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.”1 This is just an example of one way God talks to us. Notice God spoke in a soft whisper. His voice can be very easy to ignore. In fact, He is the perfect gentleman, he will not force you do, or not do something.
With that in mind, a word of caution. He will never contradict His revealed Word, the Bible. For example, He will never lead you to commit adultery or murder. This just won’t happen because these kinds of acts are against His revealed truth. Jesus is the word made flesh (Jn 1:1), and He cannot lie about Himself (Jn 1:14). This is another reason it is very important you know His Word, so you have a way to judge everything against it.
But back to my story, it didn’t end there. After I told them to repair the water pump, I got a call the next day during work… In short, there were several other repairs which needed to be done which more than doubled the cost. I was very hesitant. I was thinking, “How much more money should I put in this car? Should I start looking for another car?” With reservation I told the repair guy to go ahead (Ugh!) with the additional repairs. I asked him if he would evaluate my car and see if I should keep it. He said okay.
After work, I drove, with apprehension, to the repair shop. I was praying for guidance the whole way.
I asked what he thought about the car. He said he asked both mechanics what they thought. Both mechanics agreed, keep driving it until something major goes wrong (like the transmission or engine). He said I could easily have the car another five years, especially with good maintenance. This was not what I expected to hear. I happily wrote the check, even though it was expensive, I felt blessed.
This brings me to my next main point. God speaks through the wisdom and experience of other people. But again, you must test everything in light of what Scriptures says. If Scripture does not speak to the issue, seek godly counsel. This doesn’t mean only your pastor (although it can) but perhaps a friend or family member who you know to be a wise Christian. Or, as in my case, they may not be a Christian at all, but they may have years of experience with your particular situation.
There is no set formula for developing a conversational relationship with God. This depends on how much time you invest in knowing Him. Dallas Willard, author of Hearing God, put it this way, “It is a remarkable fact that sheep and other domesticated animals and pets unerringly recognize the voice of their master or mistress. When they first hear that voice, they do not recognize who is speaking, but they learn to do so very quickly” (p. 167). There is no better time to start than today. Prayer is the first step. Just say, “Hi, my day has been…” or “I’m having a really hard time with…” and let the conversation flow. He cares about every single minuscule detail. Best of all, He wants to hear from you.
One last point and general guideline to wrap this subject together and to help you begin to learn how to talk to God. Mr. Willard relates this idea far better than me: Circumstances, impressions of the Spirit, and passages from the Bible are three of the main ways God communicates with us. When you receive similar communications from all three interdependent factors listed above, you can be fairly sure you’ve understood what He wants to tell you. He knows you inside and out, so He knows how best to communicate with you through these factors.
Eventually, you will perceive the soft whisper with which He often speaks. You will see, like with a human relationship, how He communicates in His own special way. Even through a car rattle…
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1 The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (1 Ki 19:12). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.