by Joanie Butman
Learning to hear God is a challenge for anyone because it is unique to each individual. There isn’t a prescribed method of communicating with the Divine, which is why it takes a lot of trial, error, and above all, practice. Plus, it’s also always evolving. I’ve never met anyone who actually hears Him audibly, but that’s not to say they don’t exist. When discussing hearing God’s voice, the most frequently asked question is “How?”
God has a love language for everyone, and the key is determining yours so you can recognize His ‘communications.’ If you haven’t read any of the Godwink books by SQuire Rushnell, they are an excellent (and light-hearted) place to begin learning how to discern the ‘voice’ of God. Rushnell describes the term he coined as:
… what some people would call a coincidence, an answered prayer, or simply an experience where you'd say, ‘Wow, what are the odds of that?!’ What do godwinks mean? Think about when you were a kid and someone you loved gave you a little wink across the dining room table...Mom or Dad or Grandma. You didn't say ‘What do you mean by that?’ You knew. It meant: ‘Hey kid, I'm thinking about you right now.’ That's what a godwink is too: a message of reassurance from above, directly to you, out of six billion people on the planet, saying ‘Hey kid...I'm thinking of you! Keep the faith! You're never alone.’*
I like to think of them as hugs from Heaven and will share my most recent one as an example.
As you know, our house is on the market, and I’ve spent the better part of the past year attending open houses educating myself on the current real estate market. My concern is not that we won’t sell the house, but that we won’t have someplace to go when we do. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve become a house stalker. As such, I have scoped out my favorite homes with the intention of dropping the owners a note to see if they have plans on moving in the near future. Tuesday morning I passed one such house and felt compelled to go home and do a reverse lookup to see if it might belong to someone I knew peripherally. It didn’t, so I sent out a few emails to see if any of my peers recognized the name. Negative.
That tactic may sound overly aggressive or even creepy to someone more timid, but it’s actually not unusual. In fact, that’s how my parents sold their house. On the way home from Florida one year, they prayed for guidance in regard to downsizing. When they arrived home, there was a note in their mailbox with an excellent offer (sight unseen), which they gladly accepted and moved shortly thereafter. THAT is a Godwink.
Anyway, I attended a prayer meeting Tuesday, and for the second time in a week I was put on the spot as the moderator asked us to go around the room verbalizing our prayer requests. We then had to pray for the person on our left. Clearly God is trying to teach me something, because based on my recent prayer blog, it’s no secret that this is not something at which I excel – particularly praying out loud. I grew up Catholic. We don’t do that, unless it’s the rosary of course. Spontaneous prayer leaves me a little tongue-tied. Hard to imagine, I know.
I looked for the nearest exit, but there was no gracious way to escape. As the weakest link in this prayer platoon, I pitied my assigned partner. Listening to everyone else’s eloquent and heartfelt responses, I felt unprepared and obliged to come up with something meaningful. I could either throw out something simple, or I could give them a list a mile long. I went with simplicity and asked for guidance concerning our move. Never gave it a second thought.
The next morning I attended a Pilates class. My partner was not available for our next session so the instructor asked if I would mind being paired with Jane Smith – the name of the person who owns the house I was stalking. Coincidence? I think not. I don’t know how many people live in New Canaan, but I can't imagine any actuary predicting the odds of that particular person being a fill-in as my Pilates partner.
Does this mean she is going to sell me her house? Who knows? I don’t think that was the intended message, which I interpreted as “I heard your request. Relax, I’m on it.” Why do I think that? Because historically, He’s always been my most trusted real estate agent. His answer may be that He wants us to stay put, in which case, no buyer will materialize. Either way, it was His way of confirming once again that He’s got me covered.
I could go on with plenty of other examples, but it’s more fun to discover your own. Once your eye is trained to recognize them, you will be surprised and delighted at their frequency. I invite you to share your Godwink stories at the end of this article. It’s inspirational to read how God works in the lives of others as each account reveals a Father that is intimately involved in every aspect of His children’s lives.
With all that said, God speaks to me most clearly through writing – probably because He knows words are my love language. If you’re a gardener, He might speak to you through nature. If you’re an athlete, He might speak to you through sports. If you’re a musician, music will be your medium. You get the picture. Another good read is Gary Chapman's, God Speaks Your Love Language.
No one can determine your unique relationship and communiqué with God, but I can tell you once you choose to tune into the frequency He’s reserved just for you, it will be well worth the effort as it becomes a life-long conversation.