Stories of God talking to his people abound throughout the Bible, but we usually only get the highlights. We read; “God said; ‘Go to Egypt’”, and then; “Mary and Joseph left for Egypt.” We’re not told how God spoke, how they knew it was him or how they decided to act on what they’d heard.
This is how the blurb of my new book God Conversations reads. When I first read Bible stories about God speaking I thought, it sounds so easy for them – when the reality felt so different. That’s why I set out to write my book. I wanted to show more than the highlights. I wanted to show what really happens behind the scenes when we hear God’s voice.
In this podcast, we talk about how my book on hearing God’s voice is different from others:
It’s all about the stories
For one, it’s all about the stories. The goal is to show you how God speaks rather than tell you. You’ll notice there’s no list of things for you to do; there’s no five steps for you to follow. This was a deliberate style choice.
Have you noticed most of the Bible is stories? Most of Jesus’ teaching is stories. Stories turn principles from black and white to colour. They fill in the abstract and ground truth in reality. So the book is more show than tell – although there is telling involved too. From the feedback I’ve received, people relate most to the stories. They say; “I never thought I could hear from God, but now I realise I always have.”
It gives more than the highlights
We love the Bible, but we need to remember that the Bible only gives the highlights – the best stories. We read, “And God said to Abram; ‘Leave your country and go to a new land’ (Genesis 12:1) then, “So Abram went…” (Genesis 12:4). I often wonder if it was that easy! The Bible gives us nothing of what went on in Abram’s head as he processed what he’d heard. Often the stories were told years later after a long time of editing and reflection. There’s no detail about what went on behind the scenes.
This kind of approach makes sense since the Bible writers had the big picture in mind. They were more concerned about communicating the message than revealing the process. I think that’s partly why God led me to give more detail in the book. He wants us to know that he understands our struggle and that he has answers to the fear and doubt behind it all.
It reflects on contemporary God-conversations in light of ancient ones.
In the book you’ll notice I find myself in the middle of situations seeking to understand them. The first place I turned to was my Bible. Had anyone else had a God-dream like me? Had anyone seen dead bodies used to symbolise lifeless hopes? Had anyone had to trust God’s word for a big geographical move? Had anyone received a funny sign to confirm what God had said?
We need to remember that God has been speaking for a long time and the patterning of his call is the same even though circumstances differ. And of course, people in the Bible are just like us. They make mistakes, they hear what they want to hear, they sometimes disobey and have to face the consequences. So the Bible is like a journal of God-conversations for us to learn from.
That’s why in the book, my story is spliced with the story of the Bible characters. Each chapter starts with a time that God spoke and the questions surrounding it. Then we cut to a God Conversation in the Bible and learn from that. At the end of the chapter, the questions are answered by the resolution of the story. Underlying each story is an important teaching principle about hearing God’s voice and following it.
At heart, we all have the same questions: What does God sound like? How do we know it’s him and how do we respond to what he says? God Conversations invites you on a journey to find the answers.
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