When You Want to Hear the Voice of God

In 1980, I was born in a little town in the South. It happened in Spring, while the earth turned green and the bees droned and the forsythias bloomed. My birth parents were two very broken people.

We ran away a lot, from the police, and I got dropped off at stranger’s houses and there were foster homes, and I felt lost. But, this is not the story of that. This story is not so much about being lost, as it is about being found.

When I was about three or four, it thundered and rained and I stood in a living room, somewhere scared and asked my birth mom why it was so loud. She told me that God and the devil were up in heaven fighting. The thunder was because one of them was mad. That was my first introduction to God. He is up there. Somewhere. And He’s in charge, kind of.

When I was six, I lived at this foster home and the grandpa of the family sometimes took us kids to church. I have no clue what they taught me in Sunday school. I just know that when we were all sitting still in the pew, and someone prayed out loud, the preacher stood up on the platform, closing his eyes and very fervently cooned, “Yes, God. Amen, God. Yes, Lord. Yes.”

I figured God must be talking to him, personally. I wondered what it was exactly, that God was saying. Whatever it was, the preacher could surely hear Him because he kept repeating, “Yes. Yes, God. Yes.”

I suspected that if you’re really important and special, God will talk to you.

Somewhere in those foster home years (when I was five and six and seven) I had this vivid dream. I had so many vivid dreams in my early years. They were often foreboding. Like, all the times I had dreamt that my birth mom and I were on a cliff, way up high and we were trying to stay on the ledge. But, no matter how hard we tried, eventually we both fell, down, down, down, swirling into this downward spiral of helplessness. When I woke up, my room was spinning.

Later, I realized that I had dreamt this so often because that’s how I felt. Absolute loss of all control. Of everything stable and safe in my life.

But, this one night I had a different kind of dream. It was raining. And thundering. And the ground was parched and cracked. I stood in a yard looking towards an old white farmhouse. As it thundered, I heard a voice coming from the sky. It was strong and firm and yet strangely gentle.

“Magdalene. Magdalene!”

I woke up and knew it was God. God, calling my name.  Now, remember, I knew very little about God. He was just a great big Someone who was somewhere.

When I was seven, me and my little brother were adopted. My mom told me about Christ, while we were driving down the gravel road to our home on the river. In that ordinary moment, with child-like faith, I simply believed and thus began my new life in God’s Kingdom.

Ever since then, God has been real to me. He’s the God who called my name before I knew who He truly was. The God who has rescued me more than once from that downward spiral of helplessness and set my feet upon a solid Rock.

I’ve learned that God isn’t so off, after all, and angrily shouting in heaven. He is here, traveling down the dusty roads with us, and He’s on the street corners, where we stand and He walks down our dark alley ways. You don’t have to be someone special or important to hear Him speak, either. You just have to listen.

I’ve never again heard God’s audible voice, since that childhood dream. But, I’ve come to know the way He talks to me. Always He speaks through His written Word, and there in the quietness of my heart, He beckons. I’ve learned to recognize His tone, daily communicating.

At times, He shouts through thunderstorms and life’s pain, and sometimes He quietly reaches out through the things that He’s made. Things that are especially meaningful to me, like bird nests or the smooth underbelly of seashells. The warmth of my husband’s hand. My children’s raucous laughs.

Now, 38 years since I first sucked air into my tiny lungs, in a little town in Arkansas, this God has become my Haven. My truest home.

The whole world is His megaphone.

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