Thursday, June 4, 2009

I Heard God Speaking to Me

A couple of years ago, John Piper sent a letter to his congregation regarding the topic of hearing the voice of God. It caused quite a stir for reasons I think you would agree with.

He opened his letter by saying the following:

Let me tell you about a most wonderful experience I had early Monday morning, March 19, 2007, a little after six o’clock. God actually spoke to me. There is no doubt that it was God. I heard the words in my head just as clearly as when a memory of a conversation passes across your consciousness. The words were in English, but they had about them an absolutely self-authenticating ring of truth. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God still speaks today.

He goes on to say that he was on a staff retreat and for some reason was not able to sleep, so he got up. He went to an area in the center that they were staying in that was quiet, where he would be undisturbed. He began to pray.

Piper continues,

As I prayed and mused, suddenly it happened. God said, “Come and see what I have done.” There was not the slightest doubt in my mind that these were the very words of God. In this very moment. At this very place in the twenty-first century, 2007, God was speaking to me with absolute authority and self-evidencing reality. I paused to let this sink in. There was a sweetness about it. Time seemed to matter little. God was near. He had me in his sights. He had something to say to me. When God draws near, hurry ceases. Time slows down.

I wondered what he meant by “come and see.” Would he take me somewhere, like he did Paul into heaven to see what can’t be spoken? Did “see” mean that I would have a vision of some great deed of God that no one has seen? I am not sure how much time elapsed between God’s initial word, “Come and see what I have done,” and his next words. It doesn’t matter. I was being enveloped in the love of his personal communication. The God of the universe was speaking to me.

Now at this point, as I am reading this letter the hair starts to rise on the back of my head. What? God doesn’t speak to people anymore. The Cannon of Scripture is closed. Most importantly – is John Piper now a charismatic? What is going on here?

Piper continues,

The words came again. “I turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There they rejoiced in me—who rules by my might forever.” Suddenly I realized God was taking me back several thousand years to the time when he dried up the Red Sea and the Jordan River. I was being transported by his word back into history to those great deeds. This is what he meant by “come and see.” He was transporting me back by his words to those two glorious deeds before the children of men. These were the “awesome deeds” he referred to. God himself was narrating the mighty works of God. He was doing it for me. He was doing it with words that were resounding in my own mind.

There settled over me a wonderful reverence. A palpable peace came down. This was a holy moment and a holy corner of the world in northern Minnesota. God Almighty had come down and was giving me the stillness and the openness and the willingness to hear his very voice.

At this point it almost appears as if Piper is having an “out-of-body-experience.” I am thinking he has gone over the edge. He continues by saying that this experience is “breathtaking,” “serious,” “almost a rebuke,” “a warning.” Piper is saying that it’s one thing that God spoke those words, but that He specifically spoke them to him! That is what is incredible. And frankly, I tend to agree. Why Piper? Why him and not me?

He continues more,

Think of it. Marvel at this. Stand in awe of this. The God who keeps watch over the nations, like some people keep watch over cattle or stock markets or construction sites—this God still speaks in the twenty-first century. I heard his very words. He spoke personally to me.

What effect did this have on me? It filled me with a fresh sense of God’s reality. It assured me more deeply that he acts in history and in our time. It strengthened my faith that he is for me and cares about me and will use his global power to watch over me. Why else would he come and tell me these things?

It’s at this point that the “light” turns on in my mind and I am beginning to figure out what Piper is really saying…

[God speaking to me] has increased my love for the Bible as God’s very word, because it was through the Bible that I heard these divine words, and through the Bible I have experiences like this almost every day. The very God of the universe speaks on every page into my mind—and your mind. We hear his very words. God himself has multiplied his wondrous deeds and thoughts toward us; none can compare with him! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told (Psalm 40:5).

And best of all, they are available to all. If you would like to hear the very same words I heard on the couch in northern Minnesota, read Psalm 66:5-7. That is where I heard them. O how precious is the Bible. It is the very word of God. In it God speaks in the twenty-first century. This is the very voice of God. By this voice, he speaks with absolute truth and personal force. By this voice, he reveals his all-surpassing beauty. By this voice, he reveals the deepest secrets of our hearts. No voice anywhere anytime can reach as deep or lift as high or carry as far as the voice of God that we hear in the Bible.

So, this begs the question, why would I be sending you this info. Well, this past week on this blog, I posted the poll with the statement: I schedule my day around spending personal time alone with God

The results? Strongly agree – 0, Agree - 28%, Disagree - 42%, and Strongly disagree - 28%

My thought is that ultimately we are not aware of the fact that the God of the universe is the One who will speak to us everyday. I think that if we were really, consciously aware, we would go to His Word.

I don’t say this to bring guilt on us, but to really say that if you want life, abundant life – go to the Word and hear your Father speak to you. Hear Jesus speak to you.

My friends don’t be afraid. Jesus loves you and He wants you to hear His voice.