Hearing God’s Voice

My first year of college was the defining year of discovering the voice of God. As a child I had always wanted to love Jesus. I shared the gospel with my classmates, I experienced God in worship and my Sunday school teacher even commented to my mother that one day I would be a missionary. But it wasn’t until the end of high school that something finally clicked and I found that following Jesus was thrilling and everything I had ever wanted.

I quickly became friends with a young man named Jackson. I was eager to share with him what God had done in my life, but he wasn’t very interested. I looked for opportunities to love him so that he could know the same God I had found to be so good.

One day I learned that Jackson owed over five hundred dollars in speeding tickets to the state of California. I was shocked that he hadn’t paid his debt and it only continued to increase, with steep interest. In my worldly mind, I wrote him off as irresponsible and forgot about the conversation.

A few weeks later I sat down on my dorm floor to pray before bed. I had been asking God to show me how to love my unbelieving friends and that night I asked the same question. Much to my surprise, I remembered Jackson’s speeding ticket. I put it out of my head and thought, No, that’s crazy. I asked again that God would give me wisdom and show me how to love my unbelieving friends. And again, my whole mind was consumed with this one thought: Pay for Jackson’s ticket. I tried to reason myself out of this ridiculous thought until I realized that maybe God had spoken to me. Hoping to find a different answer I randomly opened my Bible to Proverbs 3:27:

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.

I knew in that moment God was speaking to my heart, but I still wanted to resist. Five hundred dollars is a lot of money, and I had never given away so much. So I opened the Bible randomly again, this time to Matthew 19:21:

If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.

At this point, I knew clearly that God was speaking to me and I had the choice to obey or disobey. I told Him fearfully that I would do it and in response He spoke to my heart: Do not worry, I will provide. So that week I withdrew five hundred dollars from my account and gave it to Jackson in an envelope with a little note. I told him it was a gift from God.

Moments after I gave him the envelope I returned to my dorm room to pray and was overwhelmed with the joy of His presence. I felt on top of the world – I was free from concern and walking in obedience to Jesus! It only took a few minutes until Jackson knocked on my door, unable to believe that “someone else could pay for my mistakes!” I laughed and explained that Jesus did exactly that, and yes, it is unbelievable. Jackson, however, could not accept the money and returned it to my hand. I walked back into the room and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart again: Didn’t you believe that I would provide for you? I felt in that moment that I experienced just a tiny bit of what Abraham experienced the night God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, only to receive him back.

That week was the first time I encountered God’s promise to “lead me into all truth” by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). This was the first time to I realized that God’s story told through the Bible never stopped, and we can be a part of it, if only we would listen.

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion. (Hebrews 3:15)

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash