I heard an interview recently about how the creators of Zumba came up with the name.
The dancing workout routine was originally called “RumbaSize,” but since they couldn’t copyright the name they were forced to think of something different. They knew they liked the sound of “umba” (ooo-m-ba) so they went to dinner and started placing letters of the alphabet in front of “umba.” (a)umba, (b)umba, (c)umba, all the way through 26 attempts, until they came to Zumba, and instantly knew they had their new name.
I bring up that story because so often we glamorize creativity and inspiration when in reality most brilliant ideas are luck, accidental, or realized during routine activities. It would be easy to assume someone with a creative mind and great marketing background innovated a new word after months of research, but the truth is Zumba got its name from 3 guys sitting at dinner going through the alphabet.
I feel that way when people talk about God speaking to them. I’m guilty of it myself, but, so often the way we describe hearing the voice of God sounds mystical and magical. I remember growing up in church and hearing the pastor talk about conversations with God with such certainty, very matter of fact. They would say things like, “I asked God, and he said to me” or “I heard the word of the Lord whisper in my ear.” As a kid, I assumed there was a different line of communication for preachers and everyone else, but now that I’m older and a pastor myself, I think more times than not, we glamorize our experiences in the retelling. Most of my exchanges with God feel more like, (a)umba, (b)umba, (c)umba.
If hearing other people talk about God’s voice makes you spiritually inferior, don’t! I don’t want you to feel that way. What I want more than anything is for you to have a relationship with God that feels personal. I want you to hear God’s voice in your life and feel the thrill of obeying the leadings and promptings of God.
For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it.
Mark Batterson says your favorite scripture will eventually become the script of your life, and I hope that’s true, because my favorite scripture is Exodus 33:11
Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.
This is my life verse. I want to know God like Moses (minus the 80 years in the desert part.) I want to give you 4 truths, which I have personally experienced when it comes to hearing God’s Voice in my life. I can only speak for myself and the conversations I’ve had with others, but these truths will help you grow more comfortable hearing and obeying God’s voice in your life.
1. God’s voice is more normal than mystical
In my life, God speaks much more in the car on the way to work than during meditation. I can’t explain why, but my interactions with the almighty are much more normal than mystical. Like a text message or phone conversation of banter between friends, God speaks using normal language in normal moments. You don’t have to light candles, play music, go in the woods, you can if you want to, but don’t feel like you have to in order to hear God’s voice. Sometimes turning off the radio or phone is just as powerful. Is there a recurring conversation you’re having with friends? Can you not shake a thought every night when you go to bed? Pay attention. Those normal moments could be God’s most popular places to speak to you.
2. God’s voice is felt much more than heard
Even though I sometimes use language like, “God spoke to me,” or “I heard God say” more times than not I “felt” God more than heard him. In 33 years I have never heard the audible voice of God. Some have, but not me. We can all feel pressure to hear a voice that sounds like Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones, but the chances are God is prompting, prodding, and poking you, trying to get your attention to receive a message from him. Over the years, I’m learning to “feel” my way towards God’s ultimate destinations through gut, intuition, instinct, and discernment.
“Who gives intuition to the heart, and instinct to the mind?”
3. God’s voice rarely tells you to play it safe, stay comfortable, or get more of what you want
In case you’re afraid you may “feel” the wrong voices in your life out of selfishness or impure motives, let me assure you God’s voice rarely affirms your agenda. God’ has never told me someone else should give me money, but He has told me give money away. God is not telling you it’s your time to win the lottery. He’s not telling you to marry a bum because He feels bad you’re lonely. Often, the voice of God plays the role of aggravator, not allowing you to stay in your comfort zone. The voice of God keeps telling you to apologize or forgive, to share your faith with the person at work you can’t stop looking at across the office, to be more generous or compassionate. I’m often resistant to God’s voice in the beginning because it goes against what I want. Which brings me to my last truth.
4. God’s voice lingers (it’s rarely a lightning bolt)
I’m so glad God is patient with me, because it usually takes me a while to see what He’s put right in front of my face. If you believe God speaks only through lightning bolts, visions, and residue of Mather Mary’s face there is immense pressure to not miss the moment, but I’m learning God’s voice lingers; it follows me like a shadow waiting on me to put the pieces together. Don’t be afraid wondering “What if God was trying to speak to me and I missed it?” He’s still trying to speak to you. You haven’t missed it.
My prayer for you is the same prayer the Apostle Paul prayed in 2 Thessalonians 1:11
2 Thessalonians 1:11
“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.”
Pray, read the Bible, talk with friends who love God, trust your gut, repeat. I think you’ll find God can be a bit of a chatterbox.
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