It occurred to me the other day that I talk to God more than I talk to anyone else. More than my friends, more than my kids, more than my bosses, and even more than my husband! Since that thought popped in my head I have been thinking about that for a few days. What a change from 2 decades ago when I was an "occasional Christian!" By that I mean I occasionally went to church, occasionally thought about spiritual things and occasionally shot up an air prayer (a quick prayer) - usually when I was in a desperate situation and needed His help, and I never read the Bible back then. My only knowledge of the Bible was what I heard when I occasionally went to church. My Bible sat inside my night stand collecting dust.
And now I just can't imagine not talking to God all the time! Just typing that makes me smile.
(When I say God, I think of the Father, Jesus and the Spirit.)
"Talking to God" isn't usually an out loud thing except sometimes when I am by myself. Usually I am talking to Him in my head.
So what do I talk to Him about? Everything! The good, the bad, and the ugly. Seriously. He knows what I'm thinking anyways, so I minus well just address the bad things I'm thinking. Get it out there. Clear the air. And I share funny things and often think of Him smiling and laughing with me. I thank Him. I praise Him. I ask for His help throughout my day. I ask for His protection. I ask Him to change me - make me kinder and loving.
Psalm 139: 1-7
O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
It starts the minute I wake up. I say things like, "Hello God! It's going to be a great day. Thank You for it. Please show me how to act. Help me to be kind to people today. Guard my mouth. I want You to use me today, however You want. Guide my thoughts, and words and actions. Help me to show Jesus to the world."
As the day begins, I talk to Him constantly. If I'm cleaning, I might be pondering a problem or something spiritual or anything... I ask God what He thinks. As I study my Bible I ask Him to give me understanding. I tell Him what I think I should do [whatever about whatever] and I ask Him if I should. Sometimes when I'm alone in the house I blast Christian music and sing and dance as I clean and do dishes. I praise God. I thank Him for His grace.
I talk to God a lot when I am driving in the car. I usually listen to a Christian radio station and I'll hear a song or something someone says and I'll ponder it. And then I talk to God about it. Or I'll just say "Wow, that was good. Thank you God for letting me hear that."
I'll read on social media or hear on the radio that someone needs prayer. I'll immediately pray for them.
I'll suddenly see something breathtaking and I'll thank God for letting me see it. I joke, "Wow! You are showing off today!" And I imagine Him laughing with me.
Something funny will happen and I'll laugh with God. I believe God has a tremendous sense of humor and brings laughter into our lives. I think He is cracking up when I watch one of those videos of babies laughing and I'll say, "God, that was funny!"
I'll be in line at the grocery store and the checkout person will be so slow. I'll get irritated and be sharp and abrupt with the person. I leave the store feeling all ticked off and get in my car and be like 'Wow, I was unkind.' "God, I am so sorry. That was not showing Jesus to the world. Please forgive me and help me to be more patient and kind to those around me."
I'll be at work and trying to figure something out and getting frustrated. "Please God, could You help me with this?"
Or something will irritate me and I'll ask Him to help me to keep my mouth shut.
I will worry about something one of my children is doing. "God, will You please help them to make good decisions? Please protect them and guide them."
I talk to God about everything. My joys, my laughter, my worries, my problems, my sin,...
I love God with all of my being. I believe He is in control. I believe I am safe with Him. I trust Him.
I do my life with Him. I talk to Him constantly.
But does God talk back to me? Oh yes! But how He does it is hard to put into words. I'll try though.
Sometimes He speaks to me quite clearly.
Once I was in the car driving, really upset about a fight I had with my husband. I was praying about it - actually I was ranting to God about how unfair it was and how God needed to do something! And God clearly told me I was praying the wrong thing. I was like what? It made me come up short. "What do You mean I am praying the wrong thing?" And God told me what I should be praying.
Many years ago at a retreat at The Cove God very clearly kept telling me the entire weekend I was to read His Word. Up until that point I had read some books and the Scripture associated with the Bible study I was doing. But I hadn't read the whole thing. I kept saying to God, I will read it. But you know how you say you will do something and then you don't follow through? Well I think I was doing that. At the end of the retreat the planners had gift bags for everyone to take. Each gift bag had a message on it and the messages were on the back side facing the wall. They asked that we pray about which gift bag we got before we took one. The theme of the retreat was Now is the Time. So the gift bags said things like, Now is the Time to Pray/ Now is the Time to Serve/ etc. I prayed not knowing what the gift bags said and chose a gift bag and it said "Now is the Time to Read God's Word." I broke down crying. Sometimes God has to tell me something a gazillion times before I listen! I went home and I read the Bible. It took me awhile, but I purposely plugged away.
More recently I felt God moving me to leave the church I belonged to. I felt God telling me to move on - He had other things planned for me. But I didn't want to leave my church. My friends were there. My women's group. I taught classes there and felt like I was doing His work. And so God and I wrestled about this for probably two years. One day my husband said he wanted to find a new church. And I finally listened to God and obeyed Him.
It took awhile to find a new church. And we landed at a little church. I knew we were at the right place. I could feel the Holy Spirit there. And I knew specifically why God brought me to that church. He had something to teach me/ change in me (which is personal.) But I was lost. I didn't know anyone, I wasn't in a women's group, I didn't see how I could teach at this church and I missed teaching,... I wasn't working at the time and I spent hours each day working on my classes. I was going to develop one on the Reformation and why there are so many denominations. I spent that summer reading 5 books on Christian history. Redoing charts in my other classes. Reorganizing the content. But I was sad. I kept praying about it, but God seemed silent. One day I broke down and kind of ranted at God. "You brought me to this church. For what? What am I supposed to do now?" and God very clearly spoke to me that He had me where He wanted. That I was doing exactly what He wanted - studying the Bible, working on my classes, drawing closer to Him,... He told me to calm down and keep doing what I was doing. He asked me if I would be obedient. Within a couple days I was invited to join a neighborhood women's Bible study group. Within a week of my melt down, the minister at my new church asked me to help him do research for his sermons. He would give me the passage he was going to preach on, and I poured through my reference books coming up with interesting facts on culture and history, etc. Oh how God gave me a purpose in this dry time in my life!
I could give dozens (hundreds?) of other examples on how God has spoken clearly to me. It isn't always in my timing. But it is in His. And I'm not always obedient initially. Sometimes God has to bang me over the head many times before I get it.
Sometimes it is God guiding me in my circumstances. Something I am struggling with will suddenly be made clear by something I read or hear or another believer speaking to me about it.
Sometimes it is just I feel God's presence. I sometimes physically feel the Holy Spirit. I know that sounds weird. The Holy Spirit is in all believers. But we sometimes squash Him - don't let Him do His work in us. Sometimes though I am open to Him and I feel Him. It is like a tingle in my back. A filled up feeling. I know that sounds really strange, but I just felt it as I typed this. When I was visiting churches, I found out there is a lot of good churches in the area where I live. But when I went in that little church, I felt the Spirit swell up in me and I knew that was where we were to land. My husband must have felt the same thing because he said the church was very "authentic."
Sometimes I feel God's presence like a bear hug. You know how when someone wraps you in their arms and holds you tightly? I feel that sometimes. It is like God is engulfing me and no harm can come to me. He comforts me. He makes me feel safe.
But the number one way God speaks to me is through His Word. I have spent enough time reading and studying the Bible to know God's promises and know His Word. I try to memorize Scripture, but often forget the exact words. But I get the gist. Something will happen in my life and one of God's verses comes to my mind. His Word pops in my mind pretty frequently. I may not have the exact wording down pat, or know the exact chapter and verse in the Bible it says that, but I know what God says. "Be strong and courageous." "Stand firm." "Be anxious for nothing." "I will never leave you or forsake you." "My lovingkindness is great toward you." I will cast your sins into the depths of the sea." "I am your refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."... I know Who He is. I know what He expects of me. And I find guidance, comfort, encouragement in His Words.
It isn't only God talking to me though. Satan does too. He tells me I am stupid. No one will love me. I am ugly. I am alone. I am a failure. I can't do anything right. He tells me lies. He deceives me. The longer I have spent in God's Word, I am able to more easily recognize when Satan is talking to me. I tell him to go away. Now!
I have lived with God just in my life in a cursory way - on the fringes, on the outskirts.
And now I live life with God being a part of all of it - the big decisions, the tiny details, the heartaches, the worries, the joy, the laughter, the trials, the moments which take my breath away. He is my BFF.
I feel a peace and a joy and a purpose I just didn't have two decades ago.
Being in an intimate relationship with God is a much better way to live.