I Kings 19:11-12 (NKJV)
Despite what some people think, God does have a sense of humor. I’ve said many times before, the puffer fish is a perfect example of God’s jovial creativity!
My dad was a man after God’s heart. I’m not sure if that’s the reason he was creatively funny or if God chose my dad for specific tasks because he was creatively funny. It’s like which came first, the chicken or the egg. One of the most creative elements of my dad’s sense of humor was his facial expressions.
He had a specific facial expression when you knew he had planned and set up a prank but it hadn’t been discovered yet.
He also had a certain look when he knew you figured out something was about to happen.
He even had a facial expression when I did something I wasn’t supposed to do and I knew better.
I could tell when something was about to happen by watching my dad’s face.
We talked a lot about scripture and hearing God through scripture and hearing God when we pray.
My dad was certainly a man of few words but he was also a man with a thousand faces. So, how did I come to know what each facial expression meant?
Experience. Practice. Slowing my heart rate down so I could enter what I’ll call ‘an alternate universe’. Over time I came to realize that God was teaching me through my dad how to recognize the presence of the Spirit of God.
At first it started with a realization that something was different. Then as my heart rate continued to slow, I would get a sense of a presence that was not of this world. This presence emanated peace, goodness, gentleness, love, joy, patience, kindness, faithfulness, self-control, and an abundance of grace. I had studied the fruit of the Spirit in Sunday School and as time passed I came to realize we can recognize the presence of God as we become familiar with those characteristics.
God has allowed me to sense evil as well. The stark dream I had of Satan trying to grab me in 1979 was a dream I will never forget. I was expecting my third child and woke up on night screaming. The air was filled with a disgusting stench. I knew Satan was in the room, but a beam of light made it so he could not reach me. As difficult as that dream was, it made it so the presence of evil was forever etched in my mind. Even today when confronted with evil, I recognize it. That evil dream has served me well. Being able to recognize the presence of evil is as helpful as being able to recognize the presence of God.
There have been a few times when I ‘missed’ recognizing the evil in people because it was carefully masked. I am a trusting soul. I have learned that God has surrounded me with people who have the gift of discernment. I’ve learned to listen when they react.
When it comes to hearing God through scripture, God started that teaching journey when I was a teenager. I know it sounds odd, but when I read scripture there were passages and words that were 3D. I didn’t even know what 3D meant back then, but I learned to stop, slow down my heart rate, turn my ear to God, and wait. See, when the Spirit of God speaks, the presence of God fills our ‘space’. I learned what I need to do is to be silent and wait. When I am distracted by this world at the time, I sometimes need to wait for several minutes. I think that’s because God is calming and slowing my mind.
The voice of God can be audible, and is for some people. That’s not been the case with me (at least not yet). The voice of God is peaceful and gentle. It’s a whisper. The prophet Elijah wrote about the whisper of God in I Kings 19:11-12. It might help you to read the whole story and how Elijah struggled in I Kings 19:1-15. God instructed Elijah and instructs us with goodness and patience. I’ve learned that I only need to stay out of the way. Just like Elijah I need to be silent and wait.
I’ve also learned to ask questions...simple questions. Yes or no questions are best, but not every question has a yes or no answer.
When I know something is about to happen I ask when? Often the answer is soon, or wait. When you first start practicing hearing God, keep it as simple as possible. Learning how to hear as you read scripture is a great place to begin.
For me, the closest thing on earth I’ve experienced with recognizing the voice of God is recognizing my dad’s facial expressions and knowing what each expression means. In order to familiarize myself with each expression, I had to stop, watch, and wait.
It’s the same with hearing the voice of God. Be attentive to the presence of the Spirit. You can ask God to speak (come). Wait for His Presence. I wait for as long as it takes.
One of my favorite movies is “War Room”. It’s about fighting our battles in prayer.
I can tell you, it’s a real battle. It’s where life happens.
It’s where God shows up.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Presence
Practice recognizing the presence of the Spirit of God. Sit in a comfortable position. Ask God to surround you with Angels who will protect you. I learned to ask for Angels to guard me when I experienced the presence of evil dream in 1979. Some teachers have said ‘don’t lay down because you may fall asleep’. I don’t agree. I think it’s okay if you fall asleep because when you first wake up the presence of God is often ON you. Be aware of the presence of the Spirit of God. You can either sit quietly in His presence, tell God about something bothering you, or ask God a question. When I’m finished, I tell God I’m grateful...because I am.
In God, Deborah