What do you think when you hear someone say “God spoke to me” or, “God told me to do this”? Do you think they mean literally? Some do. Personally, I feel like I’m in the majority when I say I haven’t heard His voice. That doesn’t mean He doesn’t speak to us.
God can speak to people in many ways. I think He is likely to speak to you in a manner which He knows you will understand.
The most common way is through the Bible, after all, it is the written word of God. I struggled to read the Bible the first time, much less hear anything from God. I felt like I needed an interpretation of the interpretation. When I later started reading a study Bible and attending church His voice became much more clear. Now there are times when I feel the pastor or verse is speaking directly to me.
The Holy Spirit is another way God communicates with us through our conscience. We have a voice in the back of our minds constantly telling us what to do. When we invite Jesus into our lives and commit to following the Lord, that voice becomes more clear and will guide us in the right direction.
Personally, I have spent my entire life following that voice down the wrong path or ignoring it when it showed me the right one. How was I supposed to trust listening to it now? Knowing I was having a hard time hearing him, I believe the Lord tried a different way to communicate with me. He started sending me signs.
Early in my journey with Christ, I was having a difficult time with two issues in my life. I was smoking marijuana daily and playing online poker for a living. If you have read my About Me page you will know that drug abuse and poker consumed most of my adult life. Although, I hadn’t abused prescription pills in a few years marijuana was still a big part of my life. I used the facts that it was far less dangerous than alcohol and legal in many states as my justification for smoking. I would ask God, talk to friends and family, or use google to get answers on one or both of these issues.
It turns out there is quite a bit of information on these topics in relation to Christianity online. I guess it shouldn’t have been that surprising to me that each topic had a fair amount of people on each side of the fence. I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to find an answer one day so I closed google and began playing poker. As I would normally do when playing, I rolled a joint and found something to watch in the background.
That day I chose to watch Carnivale. A series I had seen before that follows a traveling circus during the Great Depression. Ironically, its underlying story is about good versus evil and has many Biblical references. It had been many years since I had watched, so I started again on the first episode. A little while later I am playing in a poker tournament and smoking the joint I rolled when a scene starts between the two main characters. Sophie, a tarot card reader, starts reading Ben’s future. During his reading, she flips over his third card and explains to him it’s the sign of the beast. Just as she says this, the flop(the first three community cards in Texas Hold’em) is dealt at my poker table and is 666. It was as if time stopped for me. I immediately put down the joint and stopped paying attention to my poker table and contemplated what just happened.
The odds of these 3 cards coming are about 5000 to 1. I’m not sure how to calculate it while adding in the factors of me deciding to watch a show 14 years old and then her saying that at the exact time those cards would arrive, shortly after I googled if gambling was a sin.
Not completely convinced this was a sign from God, I asked my friends and family about their thoughts on it. They mostly thought it was a creepy story or just a coincidence. It was probably asking a bit much to expect someone to flat out say “yes, it was a sign from God.” Either way, I quit smoking and playing poker shortly thereafter.
It wasn’t until many months later that I was able to comprehend these moments better. In that time my relationship with Jesus had grown immensely and so did my understanding of His unlimited power. I was now able to look back and realize that even if someone told me it was definitely a sign, it wouldn’t have mattered. Even if the internet provided me with concrete evidence that I wasn’t sinning by smoking and gambling, I was still ignorant to the fact that I was sinning due to these acts. I was worshipping false idols by putting poker and weed above everything else in my life. I was also dishonoring my parents by telling them I was clean.
God gave me another sign recently as I was in the process of creating this blog. It made me realize there are probably many different types of signs. There are some, like mine above, that may take time before you understand their meaning. Some you understand as soon as you receive them.
I started this blog to help others find or build their relationships with God. To me, it felt like the way I was supposed to fulfill one of his purposes for me by spreading His word. Knowing that, I was still terrified by the idea. I was going to have to build a website and then open up about my life on the internet. Then I was going to have to figure out how to get people who I wanted to help to come and read it. After all that, I would need them to be able to look past me still being a relatively new Christ-follower and a former gambler and drug addict to trust the information I was giving them could help. It was something I consulted with God about a lot. I prayed about this the night before he gave me my next sign.
I got up the next morning and after another similar prayer and some coffee I set out on a jog. Picking up litter recently became part of my run because it helped me accomplish a couple things. It allowed me to glorify God in my own way and it helped keep the neighborhood nice. With several trash cans on the way, it seemed like an easy way to contribute. This day after dumping what I had gathered in the first trash can and approaching another 30 yards away I picked up a small crumpled piece of paper I could recognize as a fortune from a cookie. Not thinking much of it I came upon the next trash can and attempted to through it in. I missed. An 18-inch wide trash can, a small piece of paper and me standing right above it, yet I missed. It sat right on the edge. I continued jogging and thought maybe I should have read it. I would have another chance, after all, it was on my way back. Undoubtedly, 15 minutes later when I returned it was still there. No wind or person was going to dispose of this trash because this message was meant for me. It read “Any doubts you have will soon disappear.”
Then I knew this blog was part of my purpose and this post should be one of my first…Or, that I should try Panda Express.
Has God given you a sign? Like I did, I think you should absolutely share your experiences with your friends and family, but don’t get frustrated when they don’t understand or respond how you had hoped. It took me awhile to realize that if God gives you a sign that is His personal message to you. How can they know what it means? They didn’t see it. Even if two people see the same sign, God’s message may be different for each person. Be patient and it’s meaning will be revealed when God wills it.